What has John Cleese been up to since the days of Fawlty Towers?
Fawlty Towers fans are celebrating the news today that the iconic sitcom is returning to British television screens after more than four decades.
But for John Cleese, the decision to write new episodes with his 39-year-old daughter Camilla is likely to be more pragmatic than sentimental, as the 83-year-old is forced to repeatedly revisit past glories after a series of costly divorces.
Fawlty Towers was redone three times in the US: in 1979 as Chateau Snavely, in 1983 as Amanda’s, and in 1999 as Payne. But it all fell through, and in 2009, Cleese, 69, said the cast would never try again because they were “too old and tired.”
In the latest reboot, the comedian will reprise his role as Basil Fawlty with Camilla as the hotelier’s daughter. The couple decide to re-enter the industry and open a boutique property, only for things to inevitably end in disaster.
Cleese is said to be worth £8 million. But he often talks about the need to replenish his savings after splitting with his third wife, psychotherapist Alyce Faye Eichelberger, in 2008 after 15 years together.
The classic comedy Fawlty Towers saw John Cleese play the inept hotel manager Basil Fawlty. He appears alongside Polly Sherman (Connie Booth) and Manuel (Andrew Sachs)
The comedian has overhauled his back catalog in recent years after a series of costly divorces. He was seen here in 2014 with Michael Palin doing the famous ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’ during a live Monty Python show at the 02 Arena.
Cleese toured the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa with his Alimony Tour in 2011 to raise money for his deal with ex-wife Alyce Faye Eichelberger.
The divorce ended up costing her a staggering £12 million after alimony payments of £650,000 a year.
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the new Fawlty Towers
He made his final payment to Eichelberger in 2015 but is still suffering from a financial hangover, as he revealed last year.
“There are so many books I want to read, but the divorce wiped me out completely because I never had the kind of money that people who worked in American television had,” she told LBC’s Full Disclosure podcast.
“He cleaned me out, so I’m still working and I’m almost 83. And I’m still working and I don’t really have any savings.”
The comedian described himself as “comfortably well off” before his divorce from Eichelberger, but has previously said he thinks she is richer than he is now.
“I was comfortably off before my divorce from Alyce Faye Eichelberger. I never knew how much she really had, I was just comfortable, ”he told the German magazine Spiegel in 2016.
‘But now I have been working for seven years to pay alimony. She is much better than me. So you could stay bitter about it. Or you may just think it’s completely ridiculous.
Cleese traveled the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa with his alimony trip in 2011 to raise money for his settlement with Eichelberger.
He also admitted that the divorce law was one of the main motivations for him to rejoin the Pythons for a series of live shows.
The star remarried in 2012 to Jennifer Wade, with whom he appears in a photo during an event at Tiffany & Co in London in 2013.
The star was married to his Fawlty Towers co-star Connie Booth from 1968 to 1978 and then to American actress Barbara Trentham from 1981 to 1990.
Cleese separated from his third wife, American psychotherapist Alyce Faye Eichelberger, in 2008 after 15 years together. They are photographed together in Los Angeles in 2004.
John teamed up with his comedian daughter Camilla Cleese, 39, to write the new episodes of Fawlty Towers (she is pictured in 2018)
In 2021, he starred in the film Clifford the Big Red Dog playing Mr. Bridwell.
His other work includes a 2010 ad campaign with AA, where he played a man who believed the company couldn’t help him after a series of disasters, including water spilling from his roof.
‘The oh? Why faulty showers? he said.
In 2013, Cleese starred in the Israeli crime comedy Hunting Elephant and that same year he appeared as himself in filmmaker Gracie Otto’s 2013 documentary The Last Businessman.
He joined Eric Idle in 2015 and 2016 for a tour of North America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
He has also written a number of plays, including Big Bang! – an adaptation of the French play Monsieu Chasse! by Georges Feydeau.
This year, Cleese will appear in Roman Polanski’s film The Palace, and was recently signed up to present a news program on GB News alongside journalist Andrew Doyle.
He is likely to use the show to make further attacks on the ‘woke’ culture, which he blames for stifling creativity.
The star remarried in 2012 to Jennifer Wade in the exotic location of Mustique, and even though she’s 28 years his junior, he still worries about losing touch with what’s relevant as he gets older.
He said: ‘One of the things about getting older is that you lose touch with the contemporary scene. I find it quite amusing that I still managed to make a living even though I have no idea why anyone would use Facebook.
Cleese was married twice before her union with Eichelberger.
He was married to his Fawlty Towers co-star Connie Booth from 1968 to 1978 and then to American actress Barbara Trentham from 1981 to 1990.
Cleese’s recent comments suggest money is still on his mind, with the star joking with photographers last year about the cost of a meal he had to celebrate a friend’s 80th birthday.
“The food was good, but it’s very expensive,” he said as he climbed into a taxi outside the trendy private members’ Oswald’s bar on London’s Albemarle Street in August.
Fawlty Towers has been redone three times in the US, including in 1979 as Chateau Snavely
Amanda’s, a second Fawlty Towers remake that appeared in 1983
Payne, which aired in 1999, was the final reboot but, like the other two, it flopped.