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Cleese experiments with Fawlty Down Under

AAP logoAAP 19/08/2016 Danielle McGrane

John Cleese has chosen to premiere his Fawlty Towers stage show for the first time in Australia because of the country's optimistic outlook.

The Monty Python member, star and co-writer of the original Fawlty Towers TV series from the 1970s is also, essentially, using the show's tour of Australia as a test run before bringing his adaptation to the rest of the world.

"I wasn't sure it would work and I thought it would be embarrassing if it doesn't," Cleese told AAP on Friday.

The live theatre production will open in Sydney this weekend for a four-week run before it hits Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and New Zealand with an eventual plan to wind back up in his own country.

"I would assume that we would tour it in England if it's a success here," Cleese said.

"Having seen the (preview) audiences I think it is going to work. I can't see something suddenly changing."

The comedian has also said recently that the British press don't like him, another reason for opening in Australia first.

"I love this place because there's a positive atmosphere here and not a negative one," he said.

He also prides himself on having discovered the talent in Australian theatre long before the rest of the world took notice.

"I used to go and see little shows when I came here in the 70s. The quality of the acting was absolutely marvellous ... so I thought the main thing of getting this right was actually to get the casting right and I thought we'd probably do that in Australia as well," he said.

Cleese and his team have assembled an all-Australian cast for the tour including Melbourne actor Stephen Hall in the role of Basil, while former Home and Away actress Blazey Best takes on the part of his long-suffering wife Sybil, originally played by Prunella Scales.

Cleese has been over to Australia throughout the last year to work on the show which he adapted form the TV series.

It will feature a selection of familiar gags from the original TV series and familiar characters such as Manuel, Polly, Major and Agatha Tibbs.

But there will be some new jokes and moments in there to keep it fresh for die-hard fans.

"I've written several jokes in there that I'm rather proud of that nobody knows that they weren't in the original," Cleese said.

The legendary actor, comedian and writer is confident this live show will be a success.

"From the time I arrived I found in rehearsals that I was laughing out loud and I thought, 'Well, that's got to be a guide.'"

*Fawlty Towers runs from August 19 - September 18 at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney

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