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

8 February 2023, 13:21 | Updated: 8 February 2023, 14:19

Where are the Fawlty Towers cast now
Where are the Fawlty Towers cast now. Picture: Alamy

By Alice Bourne

British television staple Fawlty Towers is set to make a return, but what has the cast been doing since the iconic series ended and where they can be found today?

Fawlty Towers is set to return to televisions as John Cleese begins writing a new series with his daughter.

Cleese, 83, will come back to perform the notorious role of Torquay hotelier Basil, as his daughter Camilla plays the role of the daughter he did not realise, until recently, was his.

The original iconic series followed the Hotel operator Basil and his wife Sybil, Prunella Scales.

The series last aired on BBC2 in 1979, in 2019 it was named the greatest ever British TV sitcom by a panel of comedy experts compiled by the Radio Times.

As the show is set to be re-introduced to British screens, we take a look at where the Fawlty Towers actors are now.

John Cleese – Basil Fawlty

John Cleese first achieved fame as a script writer and performer on The Frost Report before he co-founded Monty Python with his wife Connie Booth. In 1980 Cleese turned his hand to Theatre, playing Petruchio in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in the BBC Television Shakespeare series.

Cleese has also shown an interest in politics after turning down an offer by the liberal democrats for a life peerage and in 2022 joining the revivalist Social Democratic Party, speaking at their 2022 party conference.

Last October, it was announced that Cleese will present a news show on GB News in 2023, alongside Andrew Doyle, saying he wanted to promote ‘proper argument’.

John Cleese Fawlty Towers
John Cleese Fawlty Towers. Picture: Alamy

Connie Booth - Polly Sherman

Connie Booth whose career began as a Broadway understudy, met John Cleese while he was working in New York. In Fawlty Towers Booth played waitress and chambermaid Polly. They were married at the time divorcing in 1978.

Booth ended her acting career in 1995. After studying for five years at the university of London she began a career as a psychotherapist. Booth married the writer John Lahr in 2000, now living in North London.

Connie Booth
Connie Booth. Picture: Alamy

Prunella Scales - Sybil Fawlty

Scales’ career began with the early 1960’s sitcom Marriage Lines before achieving fame as wife to Basil Fawlty as Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers. Following her portrayal of queen Elizabeth the second in A Question of Attribution in 1991 she was nominated a Bafta award.

For ten years Scales appeared as Dotty Turnbull in advertisements for Tesco supermarkets from 1995.

Alongside her husband, Scales appeared in Great Canal Journeys for Channel 4 from 2014 for ten series. In 2014 Scales husband revealed that she had been diagnosed with Altzheimers disease, and in 2018 he revealed that her short term memory had severly deteriorated leading to the announcement in 2020 that her 67 year career had come to an end.

Prunella Scales
Prunella Scales. Picture: Alamy

Andrew Sachs - Manuel

Sachs who began his career as in theatre, did three singles after Fawlty Towers.

In 2008 it was announced that Sachs had had been approached to appear in Coronation Street, making his debut on the series in 2009, appearing in 27 episodes and leaving later that year. 2012 saw his last major role as Bobby Swanson in the movie Quartet.

In 2008 Sachs had also been involved with a prank phone call involving Russel Brand and Jonathon Ross in which several explicit messages had been left of Sachs answering machine involving his granddaughter Georgina Baillie. This led to Brand’s resignation Ross’s suspension from Radio 2.

Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012 and he eventually died from the illness in 2016. Later that year BBC one broadcast the Fawlty Towers episode ‘Communications Problems’ in his memory.

Andrew Sachs
Andrew Sachs. Picture: Alamy

Ballard Berkley - Major Gowen

Finding fame in the 1930’s performing regularly in the so ‘quota quickies’, Berkley, who served as a special constable with the metropolitan police during the second world war and witnessing the blitz at first hand, played the role of bumbling Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers.

His last television appearance came in the 1989 film the BFG where he played the head of the army in the animation. He died before the film’s release in January 1988.

Ballard Berkeley
Ballard Berkeley. Picture: Alamy

Brian Hall - Terry

After his role in Fawlty Towers he had several guest starring roles in series such as The Professionals, The Bill London’s Burning, The Sweeney.

Hall died in 1997 after a three-year battle with cancer. A year before his death, Hall told the Mirror: "Cancer is a bully and I hate bullies. This old boy cancer will get about as much change out of me as all the other bullies I've met – nothing."

David Kelly
David Kelly. Picture: Getty

Gilly Flower - Miss Abitha Tibbs

Flower played Miss Tibbs in all twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers. A native of London, Flower had her first film role in 1932 with the advent of the television in Britain. Early in her career, Flower was also a model and seven portrait photographs taken by Bassano, where she models Kembray hats may today be found in the National Portrait Gallery.

David Kelly - Mr O'Reilly

Said to be one of the most recognisable voices and faces of the Irish stage and screen, Kelly went on to play Grandpa Joe in the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Kelly died after a short illness at the age of 82 in 2012. The Irish Times referred to him as the “grand old man of Irish acting”.

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