'Fawlty Towers' reunion, a 'Fish Called Wanda' musical (and a little bonus Bea Arthur)
From the U.K.’s Daily Mail we learned of the unlikely sight at left: The cast of the classic ’70s British comedy FawltyTowers (from left, Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth, and Andrew Sachs) gathered to promote two documentaries airing on the British comedy channel G.O.L.D. starting this weekend (see G.O.L.D.’s clip about the Fawlty reunion event). What makes it a particular surprise is that, as the Mail article reports, series cowriter and costar Booth (she played hotel maid Polly) — a former Mrs. Cleese — ”has previously refused to talk about Fawlty Towers and yesterday left as soon as the photos were taken.” Good times! But the mood figures to be a little more upbeat in the Fawlty Towers: Reopened doc (airing on Sunday in the U.K.), which she did participate in. The second doc, Basil’s Best Bits (May 17 on G.O.L.D. in the U.K.), features Cleese revealing his favorite scenes. Can we have these shipped over to this side of the Atlantic, please?
Separately, the Daily Mail also provides another tidbit for Cleese fans: He’s working on a musical theater version of A Fish Called Wanda with his daughter Camilla, but says progress is delayed because he needs to take paying gigs to keep up with alimony payments (to an ex-wife who is neither Connie Booth nor Camilla’s mother). More good times!
Meanwhile, with all the recent honors bestowed on the late Bea Arthur, getting into a Fawlty frame of mind reminded me of one project of hers I haven’t seen mentioned much — Amanda’s, the attempt to do an American knockoffof Fawlty Towers on ABC in 1983, with the late TV icon in the John Cleese/Basil Fawlty role. Golden Girls, it was not. Sadly, the only video proof of its existence I could find is this split ABC promo (you’ll see our Bea on the Hollywood sitcom version of a Torquay inn starting 18 seconds in, after the pitch for a short-lived McLean Stevenson series called Condo — good times cubed!).
So many questions from all this: Is it comforting to see a reunion of actors from a beloved series together again 30 years down the road, or a little unnerving? Any cast members of older series you’d like to see gather (if your answer is Saved By the Bell, go help Jimmy Fallon)? Are you pumped for the Cleeses to finish a Wanda musical? And who remembers Amanda’s (or Condo)? Have at it, PopWatchers!