John Cleese is reportedly in talks to make a surprise return to the BBC, in a sitcom specially written for the comedy legend. His return to the BBC would be a shock to fans as last year he said he would never work for them again, because the corporation’s commissioning editors had “no idea what they’re doing”.

John CleeseJohn Cleese is “in talks” to return to the BBC

But speaking to The Telegraph, the BBC’s head of comedy Shane Allen said Cleese was considering a return. “We’re in discussions about a piece that he might be in. It’s a sitcom and it’s very early days,” Mr Allen said.

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“He’s a comedy god, and the door is always open to him. There are certain people who have earned their badges, who have got the right to do what they want.” Mr Allen was speaking as the BBC prepares to launch revivals of classic sitcoms ‘Porridge’ and ‘Are You Being Served?’

Using the return of Tracey Ullman as an example, Mr Allen added: “Someone said to her, ‘Why have you come back to the BBC after all this time?’ She said, ‘Because they asked me’. That’s the truth. Often times there were a lot of very, very talented elder statesmen, who just don’t get asked.”

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Speaking about the current state of British comedy Mr Allen said: “That idea that there was a golden era of comedy and now it’s over, I think it’s b*******. There are enough brilliant hits now. Somehow comedy is only allowed to be loved and appreciated retrospectively. It’s a nostalgia thing.”