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John Cleese to Star in a British Sitcom for First Time in Nearly 40 Years

Variety logo Variety 4/11/2017 Robert Mitchell
© Provided by Variety

John Cleese is set for a return to a BBC sitcom for the first time since “Fawlty Towers,” the broadcaster said Tuesday. The “Monty Python” legend will co-star alongside actress Alison Steadman in new six-part comedy series “Edith,” which has been commissioned for BBC One.

Created and written by Charles McKeown, who was Oscar-nominated for 1985’s “Brazil” directed by Cleese’s fellow Python Terry Gilliam, “Edith” will also star Jason Watkins, Jessica Hynes, Anne Reid, Rosie Cavaliero, James Cosmo and Peter Egan. The show re-teams Cleese and Steadman, who played husband and wife in Christopher Morahan’s 1986 film “Clockwise.”

“If you had carte blanche on your fantasy BBC One comedy cast then you’d not be far off the ‘Edith’ line-up,” said Shane Allen, controller of comedy commissioning at the BBC. “It’s also a huge pleasure to welcome John Cleese back to the land of BBC sitcom – his last one did all right.”

Cleese’s last BBC sitcom was “Fawlty Towers,” the farcical hotel-set show he co-created with former partner Connie Booth. “Fawlty Towers” originally ran for just two seasons in 1975 and 1979, and has become a comedy classic.

Cleese has since had guests spots on such American sitcoms as “Will and Grace,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and “Entourage.”

Of “Edith,” Cleese said: “These are the most enjoyable scripts I’ve been sent in the last 100 years. It will also be particularly nice to work with Alison again since we joined forces in ‘Clockwise’ all that time ago.”

Steadman stars as the eponymous “Edith,” a widow who enjoys daily visits from an old boyfriend, Phil (Cleese), who now lives across the street. Just as Phil finally convinces Edith to marry him and move abroad to a sunnier climate, her 50-year-old son (Watkins) announces that he’s moving back home after having left his job and family, which puts Edith and Phil’s dreams on hold.

A BBC Studios productions, “Edith” was commissioned by Allen and Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content. Sandy Johnson will direct the six-part series, which is produced by Humphrey Barclay. Moira Williams and Chris Sussman will serve as executive producers.

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