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Comedy fans are in for a rare treat when John Cleese comes to Exeter to talk about his glittering career at a special charity fundraiser for the Northcott Theatre.
The legendary comedian’s first work for the stage, Bang Bang! – a new adaptation of Monsieur Chasse by Georges Feydeau – will embark on a new tour in 2020 after a premiere at the Northcott on 6 February.
Cleese will sit down with Artistic Director and Chief Executive Daniel Buckroyd on Sunday, 9 February to discuss a career which has spanned six decades and raise money for the theatre.
The conversation will be intercut with clips from some of his most famous scenes, including anecdotes from the classic series Fawlty Towers and Monty Python.
The event, at the University of Exeter’s Great Hall, will raise money to help support the Northcott and its programme to create opportunities through creative learning and talent development.
Daniel Buckroyd, who will direct Bang Bang!, says he is a huge fan of the writer and comic, who rarely performs in the UK.
He added: “I grew up hanging onto the coat tails of Fawlty Towers and then later got to know Monty Python so John has been a hero of mine for a long time.
“Interviewing him is a slightly daunting prospect but it will also be great fun, full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes from a long and eventful life.
“I have found John to be a very instinctive, open and generous collaborator – also someone who finds humour in almost anything.
“He is just back from touring across Europe but this show is rarely seen in the UK. Some of the questions and chat takes the audience into more philosophical areas around the difference between humour and laughter and insights into the nature of comedy. It really will be a rare treat.”
Cleese, 80, has been a leading figure in British comedy since making his debut with the Cambridge Footlights Revue show A Clump of Plinths in 1963.
The huge popularity of Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and films including A Fish Called Wanda has made him a global comedy icon.
He has described Bang Bang! as “a delicious combination of French Farce and Fawlty Towers”.
The Northcott, a registered charity, runs a creative learning department which works with schools and local organisations as well as a Young Company with more than 60 members.
More than £8,000 was raised to offer free panto tickets to families who would otherwise not be able to attend the theatre through a new Pay It Forward scheme.
A new work and talent development programme, Exeter Futures, has also recently been launched.
Money from the fundraiser will enable the theatre to continue its work, bringing excellent productions to Exeter, making quality work in Devon, offering vital support to emerging artists and life-changing opportunities to young people.