Veteran comedy actor John Cleese recently reprised a scene from the popular British comedy Fawlty Towers in a commercial for Specsavers. However, it turns out not everyone was happy at the idea, including the husband of Basil Fawlty’s screen wife in series, Prunella Scales, who played Sybil Fawlty.
The Specsavers ad was inspired by a classic scene from the 1970s comedy show Fawlty Towers, which sees the hotel owner, Basil Fawlty, thrashing his car with a tree branch after it fails to start (included end of article).
You can watch the latest version of that famous scene in the video below, showing veteran actor John Cleese having problems with his much more modern car and ending up bashing a police car with a branch by mistake, proving, naturally, that he should have gone to Specsavers.
However, the real husband of Basil’s long-suffering wife Sybil in the series is not happy about the situation. According to actor Timothy West, 81, husband of Prunella Scales, 83, it was a mistake to recreate such a classic scene from the show.
West has accused Cleese of doing the ad to make money to pay for his three divorces and also quoting the fact that now Cleese has a fourth wife to support.
Reportedly, in a recent interview, West told the Mirror Online, “I felt very sad that John pinched that very good scene from the show.”
According to West, the advert showed that John Cleese is a “bit pushed” for cash saying, “He has the divorce and now he has got the new one.”
“I think he has lost his way.”
As reported by the Inquisitr, John Cleese reportedly blames his mother’s “ecotistical impulses” for his many failed marriages and the divorces are costing him plenty. Cleese reportedly said in his new book that his mother, Murial, had “utterly egotistical impulses,” and added that he lacked any affection from her as he grew up.
Back in 2008, Cleese divorced his third wife, Alice Faye Eichelberger, a U.S. psychotherapist, and was ordered to pay her £12 million ($17.5 million), which includes an annual payment of £600,000 ($870,000) for seven years. The Fawlty Towers comedian was so upset about the divorce settlement, he even reportedly named a live performance tour his “Alimony Tour.”
His Monty Python co-stars have also reportedly joked that they managed to persuade him to take part in their 2014 life reunion show merely because he needed to finance his divorce.
— Banjo Hfuhruhurr III (@BanjoHfuhruhur) February 5, 2016
Despite criticism of the Fawlty Towers scene in the new Specsavers commercial, John Cleese – who married his fourth wife Jennifer Wade in 2012 – has defended his decision, saying many people had sent him Fawlty Towers scripts or Basil scripts in the past and that they were always “absolutely awful.”
According to the Western Daily Press, John Cleese said he can’t tell you how many times he has said no, “because most people trying to write it did not know how to write it.”
Cleese said that the scriptwriters always started with Basil being angry, but that if you watch the Fawlty Towers shows, you will know Basil becomes angry during the course of the show. “He does not start angry. It is quite a slow process.”
He went on to say that Specsavers had an idea and he met with them. “They were all very nice and within 20 minutes we had written the script. It was kind of obvious and I thought, ‘This will work.'”
“I think it is genuinely funny.”
Fawlty Towers fans, what do you think of the new Specsavers ad? Do you think John Cleese was wrong to recreate the scene or is it just plain funny?
For reference, view the original scene in the Fawlty Towers series in the video included below:
[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival]