It’s an old story, but one worth re-telling. You’re an actor/actress targeted for life for a role done a lifetime ago. A legion of fans worldwide don’t want to let go. It’s something that every actor worries about. In the world of British comedy alone, just ask Patricia Routledge (Hyacinth Bucket), John Cleese (Basil Fawlty) or Felicity Kendal (Barbara Good).
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those that embrace that one role and recognize the doors that is may have opened up for future endeavors or roles, whatever they might be (i.e. John Inman). Somewhere in the middle, there are those like Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), who bail on a role before it gets to that point where a role can overshadow a career of work.
Life After Polly
Whichever the case, the downside is the same. A lifetime of shaking loose that one role that you have to endlessly talk about while you build a successful career. For Connie Booth (Fawlty Towers), however, there was a fourth option — completely void oneself from a lifetime in which she co-created, co-wrote and co-starred in one of the most brilliant British comedies of all-time. There is “Life after Polly” for Connie Booth. When one reads and understands the level of trauma, anxiety and effort that went into being a part of what many consider the greatest British comedy of all-time, you recognize the toll that it took on both a personal and professional life. While it seems implausible to the Fawlty Towers fan, that complete change-of-heart void is just that, complete. No acting since 1995 and a steadfast silence regarding her earlier life in the British comedy world.
This is something that we experienced first hand back in 2005 during the creation of Fawlty Towers Revisited for PBS. Repeated inquiries to involve Connie, given the fact she was so integral to the success of the series, were politely turned aside. Perplexing to us at the time and a shame for viewers that would have loved hearing the insights she might share when the show premiered on public television in 2005 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the series, it’s totally understandable.
Connie Booth in the 21st Century
Since 2000, Booth has been working as a successful psychotherapist in north London, where she has been involved with a project helping single mothers. A long-term relationship resulted in a 2000 marriage to John Lahr, theatre critic of The New Yorker magazine and son of Bert Lahr, who played the cowardly lion in the classic film The Wizard of Oz.
From all of us involved with Fawlty Towers Revisited and from Fawlty Towers fans worldwide, thank you, Connie Booth, for providing us with some of the greatest comedic moments that still exist today some 30+ years after it began.