John Cleese may sue Fawlty Towers 'rip-off'

English comedic actor John Cleese Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption British actor John Cleese says a dinner-theatre adaptation of his show Fawlty Towers is running without his permission

Actor John Cleese says he may sue an Australian theatre company for its "shameless rip-off" of Fawlty Towers.

The actor said on Twitter that the Faulty Towers Dining Experience did not seek permission to use the show's title, themes or characters.

He said he had not received royalties from the show, which reportedly makes almost A$2m ($1.4m; £1m) a year.

But the production company behind the tribute show said Cleese had known of its existence for years.

The British actor tweeted that he was unaware of Faulty Towers' "astonishing financial success".

"Seems they thought that by not asking, and by changing the 'w' to a 'u', they'd be in the clear! Hilarious," he wrote.

The dinner-and-performance show has been staged in Sydney, London and other destinations around the world for two decades.

Production company Imagination Workshop said it had made "nothing like" the revenues reported by Fairfax newspapers in Australia.

"We are staggered by John Cleese's vitriol towards us and our tribute show," it said in a statement to the BBC.

"We are not an unauthorised rip-off show - anyone who knows the law in this area will understand that we do not require authorisation to use the concept of Fawlty Towers.

Image caption Cleese wrote Fawlty Towers with his first wife Connie Booth

"We are not the bad guys he is painting us to be. It is a shame he has chosen to air his frustrations so publicly rather than contacting us directly about this matter."

Cleese told Fairfax he was amused by the irony of the production company publishing tough legal language on its website, warning off imposters.

"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 reportedly said.

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