John Cleese, Specsavers Bring Back Basil Fawlty

By Erik Oster 

John Cleese resurrects his Basil Fawlty character for the first time since Fawlty Towers’ 1979 conclusion in a new spot for Specsavers, created in-house.

The spot pays homage to a classic Fawlty Towers scene and sees Cleese frustrated when his car won’t start (with that premise given a modern twist). He attempts to enact revenge, but finds his eyesight has betrayed him and things have gone horribly awry. It makes for a memorable spot that should appeal to fans of Fawlty Towers and Cleese, while managing to tie the joke to the product in a memorable way. 

Cleese explains in an interview that he was impressed with the in-house copywriters at Specsavers and that they seemed to understand how to use the character. “A lot of people have sent me Fawlty Towers scripts, or Basil scripts, and they were always absolutely awful,” he explained. “But these people had an idea, and I have to say—I’ve met them, they’re all very nice—and within 20 minutes we’d written the script…I think it’s genuinely funny. Because it’s funny, it’s OK. But I can’t tell you how many times I’d said no, because most people trying to write it didn’t know how to write it.”


Client: Specsavers
Creative agency: Specsavers Creative
Creative director: Graham Daldry
Creative team: Graham Daldry, Simon Bougourd, Neil Brush, John Cleese
Agency producer: Sam Lock
Production company: Blink
Director: Tim Bullock
Production company producer: Ewen Brown
Post production: MPC
Editor: Mark Burnett, Whitehouse Post