John Cleese may pop up in U.S. comedies from time to time, with guests spots on shows like Will & Grace, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and Entourage, but it’s been 38 years since he’s starred in a British sitcom.
That all looks set to change though, with the BBC announcing yesterday (April 11) that the Monty Python legend would star in new six-part comedy Edith.
He’ll play Phil, who lives opposite the titular character played by his Clockwise co-star Alison Steadman. After a long pursuit, widowed Edith agrees to marry Phil and they plan to follow the sun and move abroad — until, that is, her 50-year-old son Roger (Taboo‘s Jason Watkins) unexpectedly moves back home. To Edith’s dismay, and to Phil’s fury, all dreams are on hold.
The set-up certainly has all the ingredients for some Basil Fawlty-esque blow-ups, meaning any cars parked nearby should expect to get a thrashing at some point soon.
Here’s that classic Fawlty Towers clip we’re alluding to:
Putting up with Phil’s inevitable ire is a veritable who’s who of British comedy. There’s Jessica Hynes (Spaced) as Roger’s abandoned wife Wendy, Anne Reid (Last Tango in Halifax) as the interfering housekeeper Mrs Gale, Rosie Cavaliero (A Young Doctor’s Notebook) as Roger’s money-driven sister Sandra, James Cosmo (Trainspotting) as Edith’s troublesome ex-boyfriend Bob and Peter Egan (Downton Abbey) as the confrontational local resident Mr Dugdale.
Cleese expressed his delight at reuniting with Steadman, and also gushed over the show’s excellent writing, calling the scripts the “most enjoyable” he’d been sent “in the last 100 years.”
They’re penned by Charles McKeown, who co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen with John’s fellow Python Terry Gilliam, and acted in some of the Python movies. He also appeared in Fawlty Towers, playing the man discovered blowing up an, uh, inflatable doll when Basil and Manuel entered his room carrying a corpse.
So, all in all, the stage is set for a very funny show. And, in the immortal words of BBC comedy commissioner Shane Allen, in a reference to John’s last outing on the BBC, “his last one did alright.”
There’s no arguing with that!
Edith is expected to air later this year in the U.K., and we’ll keep our eyes peeled for a U.S. air date.
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