As one of the funniest men on the planet who was partly responsible for creating some of the funniest movies and TV shows of all time, John Cleese understandably has had little interest in trying to top himself career-wise in the last 30 years. While the Monty Python vet has definitely appeared on the big and small screen in that time, usually through voice work, Cleese will finally return to his former home at the BBC for Edith, his first TV comedy gig since Fawlty Towers ended back in 1979.
Before everybody goes off silly-walking willy nilly, let's talk about what we can expect to see with Edith, whose titular character will be played by Alison Steadman, John Cleese's co-star in his 1986 comedy Clockwise. A widow whose children have been all grown for decades, Edith spends her days carrying on a friendship with her old boyfriend Pete (played by Cleese), who lives just across the street. Pete has dreams of whisking Edith away in matrimony, but she always denies his offers. Until one day...
Yes, there comes a time when Edith actually does decide to relent and offer Pete her hand, but it unfortunately coincides with the arrival of her 50-year-old son Roger, played by Taboo star and British TV mainstay Jason Watkins. Roger has just left his wife and his children, not to mention he's also quit his bank job, and it's all in the name of returning home and attempting to recapture a lost sense of happiness. That would be HIS happiness, of course, since Roger's presence is quite a hindrance for both his mother and Pete.
Edith's cast also includes such talents as Spaced's Jessica Hynes as Roger's wife Wendy, Coronation Street's Anne Reid as the nosy housekeeper Mrs. Gale, Jane Eyre's Rosie Cavaliero as Roger's greedy sister Sandra, Game of Thrones' James Cosmo as Edith's problematic ex Bob, and Downton Abbey's Peter Egan as a shit-stirring local named Mr. Dugdale. (Close to "Dinsdale," amirite?) The comedy will be written by Charles McKeown, the Oscar-nominated writer who worked with John Cleese's Monty Python cohort Terry Gilliam on Brazil, Baron Munchausen, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. And in the announcement, Cleese humorously commented on McKeown's work.
These are the most enjoyable scripts I've been sent in the last 100 years.
Considering John Cleese used to write most of the scripts that he'd star in, we're assuming he's left himself out of that joke. And while he's written for lots of different projects over the years, the last legitimate TV comedy he penned was the still utterly brilliant Fawlty Towers, which was also his last starring role in the medium. (A show so memorable, it got a reference in Deadpool.) If Edith comes anywhere near Basil Fawlty's life in terms of quality, this could be the best new show of the year.