John Cleese, Alison Steadman, Jason Watkins To Team Up In BBC Comedy 'Edith'

It's been a while.

John Cleese will be making his first foray into BBC comedy since he mastered the genre all those years ago.

The ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Monty Python’ legend will be teaming up with ‘Abigail’s Party’ super-host Alison Steadman and ‘Line of Duty’s Jason Watkins for a brand new six-parter to appear on BBC One.

‘Edith’ - played by Alison Steadman - is a widow for whom life is pretty good. Her children visit regularly, and she is courted by an old boyfriend Phil (Mr Cleese) who lives very nearby.

John Cleese in 'Fawlty Towers', which finished in 1979
John Cleese in 'Fawlty Towers', which finished in 1979

However, his plans to make an honest woman of his old flame are disrupted when, on the very day the pair decide to put a ring on it, there’s a knock on the door… it’s her son Roger (Jason Watkins), announcing he’s left his wife, children and job, all in an attempt to find his lost happiness again. Cue chaos.

John Cleese explained why he has been tempted back after all these years:

“These are the most enjoyable scripts I’ve been sent in the last 100 years. It will also be particularly nice to work with Alison again since we joined forces in Clockwise all that time ago.”

Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning says: “If you had carte blanche on your fantasy BBC One comedy cast then you’d not be far off the Edith line-up. It’s also a huge pleasure to welcome John Cleese back to the land of BBC sitcom - his last one did alright. This is the cream of British talent giving the BBC One audience the very best comedy on television.”

“We got the emotions right, people loved it,” he said of his 1975 masterpiece, that never seems to date like other comedies, and still stands up to repeated viewing.

“You wanted it to be as good as possible, and it’s done and you’re proud of it, and then you suddenly realise that the bar has now got too high.

“If I ever tried to do Fawlty Towers-type sitcom again, everyone would say, “Well, it’s got its moments, but it’s not as good as Fawlty Towers”, so there’s not much point in doing that.

“About 20 years ago, I realised what a dreadful thing it was for Orson Welles to have made ‘Citizen Kane’ so young. All he did was make a masterpiece, but people are always judged by the masterpiece. So you have to do different things.” (Read the full interview here)

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