John Cleese is threatening legal action against an Australian theatre company who he claims are ‘ripping off’ his classic TV show ‘Fawlty Towers’.
The ‘Faulty Towers Dining Experience’ is due to perform at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival starting from April 12 and is one of nine versions of the show being staged globally by Interactive Theatre International (ITI), according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Copyright [James Morgan/Getty Images]
John claims the company did not get permission - or even try to get permission - to use the characters, situations and the show’s name from him, and that neither he nor his ex-wife and Fawlty Towers co-writer Connie Booth have received any royalties or compensation.
He reportedly told Fairfax: “I had absolutely no idea this was going on until about a year ago. I think people will find that very hard to believe, but if people don’t tell you, how do you know?
“If they’ve been going for 20 years without paying us a penny, they could well owe us a very significant amount.”
He added: “These people are completely brazen, utterly shameless. The awful thing about our society is that shameless people get away with things - look at [Donald] Trump. They take our concepts, they take our characters, they take our characters’ names and then they change the W to a U and say it’s got nothing to do with our show.”
John Cleese with Stephen Hall, who will play the role of Basil Fawlty. Copyright [James Morgan/Getty Images]
He allegedly said that he was considering legal action to protect the interests of those investing in the own stage version of his show, ‘Fawlty Towers Live’.
He also spoke about how ironic it was the ‘Faulty Towers the Dining Experience’ have a ‘legal page’ on their website, warning of the action they’ll take against other companies that may brand similar shows.
John said: “These people are shamelessly ripping off Connie Booth and myself, and they are publishing aggressive threats against anyone else who would seek to rip them off in the same way. It’s absolutely wonderful!“
ITI founder, Alison Pollard-Mansergh, has defended the company, saying in a statement: “We do not know if his comments were intended to be directed at our show, which has been running for nearly 20 years.
“If his comments were directed at us we reject them – they are misleading and inaccurate. We are huge fans of his work and wish him all the best with his new show.”