Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chris Is Brave to a Fawlty

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chris Is Brave to a Fawlty

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sam Wonfor

It's a brave man who will attempt to bring a small-screen national treasure to the stage ... but it's something Chris Johnson is becoming rather used to, as Sam Wonfor finds out.

Funny walks and eye-poking fingers at the ready folks ( Basil Fawlty is back.

It's only been a couple of weeks since John Cleese confessed to no longer being able to contemplate having a crack at that walk due to a hip replacement -- but never fear because Whitley Bay Theatre Company are here.

The return of one of British comedy's most iconic characters is coming courtesy of the ambitious amateur dramatics group who relish nothing more than a comedic mountain to climb.

Previous productions have seen them scale the giggle-filled heights of 'Allo 'Allo, Are You Being Served? and Dad's Army ( but 2006 surely takes the biscuit tin in its entirety.

Four of the 12 legendary episodes of Mr Cleese's classic BBC comedy series, Fawlty Towers are to be recreated on the stage at The Whitley Bay Playhouse next week.

Gourmet Night; The Kipper and the Corpse; Communication Problems; and (of course) The Germans will all be tackled head on by the committed cast and crew.

"Fawlty Towers is a show I have wanted to do for a while," says director and WBTC chairman, Chris Johnson. "It's always been a great favourite of mine. It is the kind of thing you can watch again and again and it never loses its humour."

Although first unveiled on TV in 1975, the show has only recently been released to the amateur stage -- and Chris was quick to pounce.

"WBTC has grown and grown over the last few years and we do comedy productions very well. Running the company is a bit of a juggling act, so we may set out our production for the next coming year then discover something has been released that we would like to do instead, as happened here.

"We were able to change our programme to be among the first to bring it (Fawlty Towers) to the amateur stage, certainly the first in the North-East, I believe."

Although obviously confident that he, and the rest of the company can pull off the challenge they've set themselves, Chris is the first to admit that the bar has been somewhat raised by the 2006 production selection. …

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