John Cleese reveals the two ideas which started A Fish Called Wanda

Virgin Radio

16 May 2024, 10:09

Credit: Virgin Radio / IMDB

John Cleese has spoken about how acclaimed British movie A Fish Called Wanda came about.

The Monty Python legend joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar to talk about the new Fawlty Towers stage show, when talk turned to another of his big hits, the 1988 slapstick heist comedy movie, A Fish Called Wanda.

John told Chris that he is still working on the musical version of Wanda with his daughter, Camilla Cleese, after it was first reported on well over a decade ago. “I'm writing a musical version of A Fish Called Wanda,” he said. “Camilla and I have been working on the book of that for ages.”



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Recalling creating the film in the 80s with director Charles Crichton, John said: “It was lovely, because I used to make those management training films and he used to direct them. And I said, ‘Charlie, we have to have to make a film one day.’ And then we sat down, and the first meeting about Wanda, he said, ‘What ideas have you got, old boy?’ and I said, ‘Well, I want to have a scene where someone with a terrible stutter is trying to get a piece of information out that is really important and really urgent. And he can't say a word, he can't get a word out.’

“And Charlie said: “I want to run someone over with a steamroller.” And that was how we started, with those two ideas.”

The movie, which starred John alongside Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin was nominated for - and indeed won - multiple awards. It follows a gang of diamond thieves who double-cross one another to recover stolen diamonds hidden by their jailed leader.

Speaking about having a “silly” sense of humour, the comedy icon told Chris: “I've married to one of the silliest women in the world, which helps a lot. It helps to keep you young.

“I came in yesterday, and I wondered where she was. And I was wandering around our tiny little flat off Sloane Square. And suddenly she jumps out at me from a cupboard. She's been hiding in the cupboard for at least 10 minutes!”

Speaking more about his homelife, John said: “My wife and I have three cats. And one of them is so large now that we're having a saddle made for it, so that my wife can move around the flat without having to walk!”

John is married to Jennifer Wade, his fourth wife. “All my lows have been to do with women, haven’t they?” he said when talking about his high and lows in life. “Three divorces. Those three cost me 25 million. The last one was 20 million, and it was worth every penny!”

Fawlty Towers is at London’s Apollo Theatre. For tickets, visit

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.