John Cleese blasts Australia for ‘rip off’

English actor John Cleese is usually an easy-going man, ready to have a laugh and crack a joke for his
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: John Cleese attends the Monty Python Press Conference during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theater on April 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)

English actor John Cleese is usually an easy-going man, ready to have a laugh and crack a joke for his audience.

It seems he won’t be having a laugh in Australia anytime soon though, after lashing out at a local theatre company for “ripping off” some of his most famous work.

Mr Cleese only recently discovered that the Faulty Towers Dining Experience, a theatre show about the characters of Faulty Towers, has been running in Australia for 20 years and he is nothing short of furious.

“I had absolutely no idea this was going on until about a year ago,” Cleese told Fairfax.

“If they’ve been going for 20 years without paying us a penny, they could well owe us a very significant amount.

“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.”

Mr Cleese says he is strongly considering taking legal action against the theatre group.

Meanwhile the producers of the Faulty Towers Dining Experience have come back saying they have done nothing wrong.

Mr Cleese is currently putting the finishing touches on his own stage version of his hit show, called Fawlty Towers Live, which will make its world premier in Sydney in August.

Despite his anger over the issue, Mr Cleese eventually conceded he was able to see the funny side the the issue.

“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,” he said.

“It’s absolutely wonderful!”

Did you used to watch Faulty Towers on TV? Are you a fan of John Cleese? Do you think he is right about this issue?

  1. Barrie Sadler  

    Fawlty Towers ( please note spelling) is a British institution. Fabulously funny,superb dialogue,great actors.
    Recently saw John Cleese & Eric Idle in Sydney,still riotously comical. Looking forward to Aussie version of Fawlty Towers.

  2. Sandra  

    I saw Dining Experience in London, so it is not just here in Australia.

    • Magdalene Csibi  

      Yes, we took part in a Faulty Towers Dining on the Isle of Wight, England, last year and the show apparently travels on a cruise ship and worldwide….John Cleese….buggar off

  3. Delys Saunders  

    Is the dining experience known as Faulty or Fawlty? Makes a difference it he’s planning to sue?

  4. Hugh Marshall  

    Yes John is entitled to be paid for the use of his programme

    • Rubbish,he should have taken out a patent on the show /concept/name if he didn’t want that to happen,he has always been very precious,atm reading his autobiography ” So Anyway “

  5. June Whitehouse  

    I went to the Faulty Towers Dining experience here in Australia, they have basically just taken a very OLD TIRED idea and turned it into a very funny dining entertainment.. I cannot sit through a single episode of Fawlty Towers now, it’s too dated and ridiculous, but I would happily return for the dining experience. If these people have been going for 20 years without John Cleese knowing about it, then they obviously haven’t done him any harm. John Cleese made his money out of it and obviously still is if it’s going on stage, so let the other people alone, they are doing you no harm

    • Chris Beckett  

      Strikes me he is just being greedy. The public adored him, in the day, and he made a fortune from it. The fact that he is still appreciated, ought to be a matter of personal pride for him, not an excuse to grab more money. I always thought he was a gentleman; I’m now revising my opinion!

  6. It’s simply really. The creator of a work is entitled to be asked permission and to receive a licence fee from those who would base new works on that creation. It’s not rocket science and it’s amazing how little sympathy the general public have for artists. You spend your life creating original works and putting them out there and others just happily steal them without conscience. This is why the music business is royally screwed. An entire generation of consumers raised to believe that taking someone’s intellectual and creative property without paying is somehow ok.

  7. colin  

    a tired old Hack trying to make money out of a tired old comedy. Faulty Tower Dining has been around for decades. what is he going to sue the students unions at Universities also, His last show was tired and boring. I have no interest in seeing him and his ancient comedy again. He is probably just jealous he did not think of it previously. He ha been to London an Melbourne before so would have been aware of these events but he needed the publicity this time, that is all it really is.

    • Kerrie Crawford  

      How can you say such vicious things about a British icon? John Cleese lives on you fool. He should sue and possibly you for your cruel words.

    • Robyn McLeod  

      Totally agree since breaking up with his wife he has turned into a negative horrid old man, perhaps that is why she left him

  8. Rikda  

    Sadly, “intellectual property” can be so suffocated with entitlement, much of which is conceived from real people doing it first, that it is often a contradiction in terms.
    They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I’d just be taking that John.

  9. Rick PAIN  

    Wait on, isn’t this the greatest form of flattery so it can only be GREED motivated, intellectual property or not this is so UGLY, so American, so disappointing !

  10. I went to a comedy show at the Opera House a few years ago, the other comedians were extremely funny. John Cleese was just a whinger, whinging about his divorce & ex wife, this was supposed to be a nice night out but he spoilt it. And now he is whinging about this restaurant! I am sorry John Cleese you are past your use by date, retire gracefully!!

  11. Jeannie Bliss  

    totally agree with John Cleese he has produceda wonderful quality of work and brilliantin my bok. Actors do not have a ‘steady job’ if ou knw what I mean so should be pid or credited for work they have done as in this case Faulty Towers, should be paid if shown here. Same as DVD pirating it is illegal as industry as whole looses same with use of movies so with tv shows should be payable for or made illegal to do without concent of person involved. Thank you John for all the wonderful humour you have xhared all the best

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