John Cleese credits the advertising industry for the greatness of Fawlty Towers
Advertising is reviled, ridiculed, derided, sneered at and spat upon perhaps more than any other profession. So when advertising has made something truly wonderful possible, we should take a moment to recognize the fact. In an article in the Coventry Telegraph, John Cleese confessed that Fawlty Towers, which without question one of the three or four funniest programs ever to appear on television, would not have been nearly as good had he not been able to supplement his income by appearing in television commercials while he was writing and filming the show:
“The 69-year-old Monty Python star, who now lives in California, also claimed he had to support himself by appearing in commercials due to the low wage the BBC paid him for making Fawlty Towers.
“Cleese said: ‘I have to thank the advertising industry for making this possible. Connie and I used to spend six weeks writing each episode and we didn’t make a lot of money out of it.
‘This will amuse you but in 1975 when I did Fawlty Towers for the first time we made six shows. Well, it took six weeks to make each show, so that’s 36 weeks, one week to film them – 37 weeks – and six weeks to actually tape them in the studio so that’s 43 weeks’ work, for which I was paid for writing and performing and filming, £6,000.
‘So that meant that I was able to subsidise my writing time by doing commercials.’If it hadn’t been for the commercials, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to spend so much time on the script.’ I would like to personally extend my gratitude to the dog food manufacturers, anti-perspirant companies and purveyors of toilet paper in the U.K. who made it possible for Cleese to make Basil so extraordinarily horrible and funny.