John Cleese teams up with Alison Steadman for BBC sitcom return

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty
John Cleese as Basil Fawlty

John Cleese is to star in his first BBC sitcom since Fawlty Towers ended nearly four decades ago.

The Monty Python legend will appear alongside Alison Steadman in comedy series Edith after vowing to never work with the BBC again.

Bafta-winning actor Jason Watkins will also star in the six-part series, the broadcaster announced on Tuesday.

Cleese, 77, 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."

Cleese has frequently criticised the broadcaster and has not held the lead spot in one of its sitcoms since Fawlty Towers ended in 1979.

In November 2015, he told ShortList magazine: "There's no way I want to work in TV, especially at the BBC. I have a nasty feeling a large proportion of the commissioning editors have no idea what they're doing.

"I said this the other day, and a younger comic said, 'No, there's one at the BBC.' Just the one."

Shane Allen, BBC's comedy commissioning controller, praised his return.

He said: "It's also a huge pleasure to welcome John Cleese back to the land of BBC sitcom - his last one did alright."

The series, penned by Oscar-nominated writer Charles McKeown, is the story of Phil, played by Cleese, and his love interest Edith, portrayed by Steadman.

After a long-pursuit, widowed Edith agrees to marry Phil and they plan to follow the sun and move abroad.

However, their dreams are dashed when Edith's 50-year-old son Roger, played by The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies actor Watkins, turns up after losing his job and leaving his wife.

Spaced and Shaun of the Dead actor Jessica Hynes will play Roger's abandoned wife Wendy.

Steadman, much loved for her performances in Abigail's Party and Gavin & Stacey, said: "I'm thrilled to be in Edith and working with such an amazing cast."