Fawlty Towers cast: who starred in original BBC series with John Cleese and Connie Booth, where are they now?

The original cast of BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers included John Cleese, Connie Booth, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, and Ballard Berkeley

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BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers will be revived by its original star and writer, comedian John Cleese - he is set to star alongside his daughter Camilla Cleese in the new series which will the pair play father and daughter owners of a boutique hotel.

It has been more than four decades since the iconic comedy series ended back in 1979 - the show made household names of its stars, all of whom went on to have a long career in film and TV. In the years since the show ended, most of the cast have retired or sadly passed away, although Cleese is still going strong.

This is what the original cast of Fawlty Towers have done since the show ended, and where they are now:

John Cleese

John Cleese wrote and starred in the iconic sitcom, playing the sarcastic, misanthropic, and snobbish hotel owner Basil Fawlty. He starred alongside his own wife in the series, though they divorced between series one and two.

Since the show ended, Cleese has solidified himself as a British comedy icon, appearing in several Monty Python projects including the Meaning of Life, and the now-classic comedy film A Fish Called Wanda. He featured in the Harry Potter franchise as Nearly Headless Nick and Q in several James Bond films.

Where are the cast of Fawlty Towers now?Where are the cast of Fawlty Towers now?
Where are the cast of Fawlty Towers now?

He voiced the King in the Shrek films and recently appeared alongside his daughter, Camilla Cleese, in the comedy Daddy Daughter Trip. He will work with Camilla again in the upcoming Fawlty Towers revival which will see them play father and daughter on screen.

Connie Booth

Booth played the long-suffering hotel maid and waitress Polly Sherman at Basil’s hotel. Usually the voice of reason, she nonetheless finds herself pulled into Basil’s hairbrained plans.

Booth married John Cleese in 1968 and later starred alongside him in Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, which she co-wrote with him, before the pair divorced in 1978 - though she returned for the second series the following year.

Her later roles included appearances as a storyteller on Jackanory and roles in drama series Faith, and The Buccaneers. She retired from acting in 1995 and began working as a psychotherapist. She is now retired and lives with her husband, theatre critic John Lahr, in London.

Connie Booth as Polly in Fawlty TowersConnie Booth as Polly in Fawlty Towers
Connie Booth as Polly in Fawlty Towers

Prunella Scales

Scales played Basil’s disapproving wife Sybil in Fawlty Towers - the pair were shown to sleep in separate beds owing to their cold marital life. Since the show, she has also appeared on several episodes of Jackanory and played Sarah France in the comedy series After Henry.

Her other roles include appearances in the films Howards End alongside Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, Emma, Johnny English, and Horrid Henry: The Movie. She also had small roles in Silent Witness and Casualty.

Scales was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, and retired after 67 years in the business in 2020 due to deteriorating health. She lives with her husband, actor Timothy West.

John Cleese and Prunella Scales as Basil and Sybil in Fawlty TowersJohn Cleese and Prunella Scales as Basil and Sybil in Fawlty Towers
John Cleese and Prunella Scales as Basil and Sybil in Fawlty Towers

Andrew Sachs

Andrew Sachs played the now-iconic character of Manuel, a permanently confused Spanish waiter who is often attacked for his mistakes by his boss, Basil. The actor suffered for his craft and was nearly knocked out filming one episode when Cleese hit him over the head with a real frying pan instead of a rubber prop by mistake.

Sachs’s later roles include appearances on children’s shows William’s Wish Wellingtons, Pirates, and Big Bad. He also starred in Coronation Street in 2009, and played Bobby Swanson in the comedy drama film Quartet.

Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012 and he passed away at his London nursing home in 2016, aged 86. Following his death, Cleese wrote on Twitter: Cleese wrote on Twitter: “A very sweet gentle and kind man and a truly great farceur. I first saw him in Habeas Corpus on stage in 1973. I could not have found a better Manuel. Inspired.”

Andrew Sachs as Manuel in Fawlty TowersAndrew Sachs as Manuel in Fawlty Towers
Andrew Sachs as Manuel in Fawlty Towers

Ballard Berkeley

Berkeley played Major Gowen, a bumbling hotel guest and former soldier who seems to be oblivious to all of Basil’s schemes. He later played Winston, a similar character to the Major, in the radio comedy series Wrinkles.

His later roles included appearances on comedy series The Goodies, The Dick Emery Show, and Fresh Fields. His last screen role was voicing the Head of the Army in the 1989 animated Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG which was released posthumously. Berkeley died in 1988 in London, aged 83.

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