John Cleese channels Basil Fawlty as he urges people of Basildon to follow Covid rules

12 December 2020, 17:12 | Updated: 12 December 2020, 17:22

We asked John Cleese if he would mind making us a quick video to encourage everyone in Basildon and indeed Essex to...

Posted by Essex Coronavirus Action on Friday, December 11, 2020

By Joe Cook

John Cleese has channeled his inner Basil Fawlty in an entertaining Facebook video as he urged the people of Basildon in Essex to follow coronavirus rules.

The video, posted by Essex Coronavirus Action, comes as Basildon recorded 500 cases per 100,000 people in the week to December 7, making it the third worst affected area in England.

Mr Cleese, who starred as Basil Fawlty in the hit 1970s comedy series Fawlty Towers, said he had been asked to make a video "encouraging Basildon people to start following Covid rules, please".

"Now this is a slightly unusual request, because they want me to do sort of Basil Fawlty and I did Basil Fawlty rather well in the 70s. But I'm now incredibly old, I'm nearly dead, I am 81 years of age and I don't have the energy to do Basil Fawlty," the comedian said.

However he later treated viewers to classic lines from the series: "Basil! Let me do, no, no I'll do it dear, don't you worry about me!"

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Switching to a more serious note, he urged people to be careful and follow the rules: "Listen, nice people from Basildon, just be careful. We are talking about your lives here, you know? I know it's a bore, but you're dealing with reality here, not with people trying to order you around.

"If you take this personally, it's like taking traffic lights personally and saying, 'Well, I don't like that traffic light because it just went red.'

"So there are some things that we need to control and we need to control people's behaviour during this horrible phase of this horrible Covid.

"The great news is we do have a vaccine, the light is at the end of tunnel. So dear people in Basildon, please be careful from now on and hand wash, distance, masks and we'll get through it. Good luck."

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The Monty Python star also revealed that he believes he had coronavirus in March, describing it as "like having the worst case of flu I've ever had".

Although he has recovered well, Mr Cleese added: "You never know if it is going to be mild or nasty."

"After all, we are playing with people's health here, even if the death rate is relatively small. The damage that can be done to the lungs is absolutely terrible because it cannot be properly healed."