John Cleese is backing a new Basil Fawlty social-distancing campaign.

John Cleese

John Cleese

The 80-year-old comedian has shown his support for Torbay council's use of the slogan "2 metres = 1 Basil Fawlty" in their bid to encourage people to keep their distance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cleese, who is 1.96m tall, tweeted: "Going forward if I see you too close to one another I shall lay down in-between. Social distance! 2 metres = 1 Basil Fawlty."

The council replied saying: "The guidance was a little confusing. So we tried to think of a simple way to explain it. And finally, we think we've got it right, thanks to you!"

However, the campaign has annoyed hoteliers, who are keen to disassociate themselves from Cleese's portrayal of bumbling hotel owner Basil Fawlty.

Helen Brenton, marketing officer for some upmarket flats in Torquay, told The Sun newspaper: "We've spent years as an industry trying to shake off the 'grotty' Fawlty Towers association.

"We should be encouraging visitors to see us as a classy resort with professional and welcoming operators."

Chef Simon Hulstone, who runs The ¬Elephant restaurant, added: "We are meant to be encouraging business and visitors not telling them we don't like them."

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