The ‘Fawlty Towers’ star tells Radio Times how it all started:
“I always thought he was an awful creep,so I pretended that I hadn’t seen him in a restaurant but it didn’t work.
“He then asked me when I was going to be funny again. I just didn’t want to have an encounter with him and since then he’s been after me and I’ve been after him.”
The pair kicked off their public feud in June 2015, with Piers asking “When are you going to be funny again?” It’s been decades.” and John responding: “When are you going to be talented? It’s been a lifetime.”
John Cleese has taken to Twitter like a duck to water, after being persuaded by an early champion in Stephen Fry:
“Stephen said to me, ‘You silly man, don’t you realise that if you have a Twitter following you don’t have to communicate with the public via the newspapers?’
“Because in the old days, to get publicity for something you’d done you’d have to get a deal and a newspaper would come and do a profile and they’d vaguely describe what an undesirable, selfish, bad-tempered and bitter old man you were. Now I simply vault over that because if I’m doing something I put it on Twitter and the fans can come along.”
Stephen Fry has frequently changed his mind about the value of the platform, quitting Twitter in February 2016 after describing it as a once secret bathing pool now “stagnant, frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish”. However, by August he was back on board, although a lot less frequently, saying he would use it only to promote his own business, and point to causes he was interested in.
John Cleese, meanwhile, is set to return to the BBC both on TV - in sitcom ‘Edith’ co-starring Alison Steadman - and on radio, after more than half a century away from the latter. He explains:
“I met a young fellow [radio producer James Peak] – well, he seems young to me, he’s about 55 – who is very enthusiastic about radio and he said I could come and do silly things and it didn’t matter too much what they were. That’s always a very enticing invitation, so I took him up on it and we made five 15-minute shows together. He’s edited them and apparently the BBC like them.”
Read the full interview with John Cleese in next week’s Radio Times, on sale now.