Comedian and prolific opponent of so-called “cancel culture” John Cleese has once again proven just how devastating being ‘cancelled’ can be by rebooting his classic sitcom Fawlty Towers – which he once implied couldn’t be made today because of a “fear” around numbers and viewing figures.
The Monty Python star, who’s also been given a presenting job and platform on GB News to talk about free speech and “cancel culture” (no, the irony isn’t lost on us), is reportedly developing a reboot of the programme with daughter Camilla and Spinal Tap filmmaker Rob Reiner.
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According to Deadline, the new series will “explore how Cleese’s over-the-top, cynical and misanthropic Basil Fawlty navigates the modern world”, as well as the wacky hotelier’s relationship “with a daughter he has just discovered he had”.
Celebrating executive producer Matthew George’s “understanding of the ‘creative process", Cleese said his first meeting with him was “one of the best creative sessions I can remember”.
Twitter users, meanwhile, are remembering Cleese’s past comments, and are arguing the comedy actor isn’t exactly being “cancelled” when he’s landed this particular opportunity:
\u201cFine can John Cleese shut the fuck up about cancel culture now\u201d— Bec Shaw (@Bec Shaw) 1675804468
\u201c@guardian I thought he was cancelled? Didn't @JohnCleese spend several weeks going from broadcaster to broadcaster to let the nation know of his cancellation? I wonder what changed, to provoke this decancellation?\u201d— The Guardian (@The Guardian) 1675803745
\u201cJohn Cleese got "cancelled", did a show about how awful it is to be "cancelled" and is now rebooting a show that he said "couldn't be made these days" while filming that show about being "cancelled".\n\nGood for @JohnCleese\u201d— Jamie Biddle \ud83d\udc0e \u2708\ufe0f (@Jamie Biddle \ud83d\udc0e \u2708\ufe0f) 1675807525
\u201cBut remember, no one wants to hear from him anymore and he\u2019s silenced. All the way to the commissioning office.\u201d— @AlasdairStuart (@@AlasdairStuart) 1675805572
\u201c'Course, I wouldn't be able to make Fawlty Towers nowadays thanks to the woke mob'\nhttps://t.co/0NnLSWLREV\u201d— Ian McDougall (@Ian McDougall) 1675804717
Speaking to the Express back in 2009, Cleese indicated Fawlty Towers – which aired in the 70s - couldn’t be made today.
He told the outlet: “We were so lucky to be working in television when we did back then. It was wonderful because there wasn’t the fear.
“I used to think that Britain had the least bad TV in the world in the 70s and 80s but I don’t think that now. It’s all about numbers and you can miss great writing that way.
“The moment people get anxious, they tighten up and the moment they tighten up, they start counting things. They want figures to tell them whether to do things or not.
“What works wonderfully is if people who know what they’re doing are allowed to trust their guts. That’s when you get interesting television.”
And this isn’t the only comment from Cleese to be undermined by irony, or even just basic facts.
Back in December he complained about the BBC no longer airing Monty PythonMonty Python, tweeting: “Can anyone (including BBC employees) tell me why the BBC has not shown Monty Python for a couple of decades?”
What he failed to recognise was that rights to the very show he played a part in creating had been sold to streaming giant Netflix and TV channel That’s TV, so the BBC obviously can’t broadcast it.
Forgive us if we’re not expecting much from the reboot, John…
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