‘Fawlty Towers’ set to re-open as a boutique hotel

John Cleese as hotelier, Basil Fawlty, in Fawlty Towers. Photo: BBC

THE classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers is being revived and developed by Castle Rock Television with original series co-writer and star John Cleese and his daughter Camilla Cleese set to write and star. Filmmaker Rob Reiner, Michele Reiner, Matthew George,  and Derrick Rossi will executive produce the series.

According to early reports, the new FT will explore how the over-the-top, cynical and misanthropic Basil Fawlty navigates the modern world and will explore the relationship between Basil and a daughter he has just discovered he had, as the two tempt fate and team up to run a boutique hotel together.

While John Cleese called their first meeting there “..one of the best creative sessions I can remember”, it was an excited Rob Reiner, who is also working on a sequel to This is Spinal Tap, that gushed: “John Cleese is a comedy legend. Just the idea of working with him makes me laugh.

For those few that have never heard of or seen the original series, Cleese and then wife, Connie Booth, put a monumental effort into each script which is immediately evident from start to finish with some episodes taking up to four months to write and required as many as ten drafts until they were satisfied. Series 1 premiered on September 19, 1975 and series 2 some four years later in 1979 following the couple’s divorce a year earlier.

Admittedly, it will be hard to think of a ‘new’ Fawlty Towers that will be without the love that Basil and Sybil had for each other. To Basil, Sybil was “a rancorous coiffeured old sow” while Sybil called Basil “an ageing brilliantined stick insect“.

And, one has to hope that the writing of the new effort lives up to the likes of, “Don’t mention the war. I did once but I think I got away with it.” Or, there’s the time when one of the hotel guests asked if there was anywhere ‘they do French food’ prompting Basil to respond with, “Yes, France, I believe. They seem to like it there. And the swim would certainly sharpen your appetite. You’d better hurry, the tide leaves in six minutes.

The original Fawlty Towers was nothing short of comedic brilliance as proved by science. Dr. Helen Pilcher, a British molecular neurobiologist by day and stand-up comic by night, set out to prove this with her team of research scientists by analyzing almost two decades’ worth of British comedies and actually came up with a mathematical expression for success, and failure.

It really is quite simple.  A sitcom is a success if it scores high marks when applied to the following formula…

[((R x D + V) x F)+ S]/A

Where’s the simple part, your asking?  Pilcher explains: “Comedic value is determined by multiplying the recognizability of the main character (R) by their delusions of grandeur (D).  This is added to the verbal wit of the script (V), and the total is multiplied by the amount someone falls over or suffers physical injury (F).  The difference in social status between the highest- and lowest- ranking characters (S) is added.  Finally, the total is divided by the success of any scheme or stratagem in the show (A). Each term in the formula is assigned a value up to a maximum of 10 to give an overall scientific score.

So, whatever the broadcast or streaming outlet is for the 21st Century iteration of Fawlty Towers, try thinking of Dr. Helen Pilcher and, in the name of science, apply the formula [((R x D + V) x F)+ S]/A and give it a thumbs up or down.

In: Comedy