Inside Camilla Cleese's childhood drug hell… & how Fawlty Towers dad saved her after waking up in pool of blood in jail | The Sun

IT'S been 44 years since iconic sitcom Fawlty Towers came to an end after just 12 episodes.

So it came as a welcome surprise to many fans this week when it was announced a reboot is in the pipeline.

John Cleese – who co-wrote the show with his first wife Connie Booth, 82, and starred as haphazard hotel manager Basil – is masterminding the new project, alongside daughter Camilla Cleese.

At 39, London-born Camilla – whose mum is John's second wife, the late US actress Barbara Trentham – wasn't even born when the original aired.

Raised predominantly in America, Camilla had a turbulent childhood and battled drug addiction – but, with the help of dad John, 83, has turned it around and is now an up and coming comedian.

Here we take a look at her rollercoaster life.


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Growing up Camilla – who now lives a very glam life in LA – has fond memories of her dad, who she describes as "witty and sharp".

Speaking to the Guardian, Camilla revealed: “If I was misbehaving in public, the way he’d get me to behave was to act like a gorilla, literally get on all fours.

"I’d get so embarrassed I’d immediately shut up. He doesn’t have an embarrassment gene. He just doesn’t give a f***."

John and Barbara separated in 1987 – after six years of marriage – and divorced three years later.

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Aged nine, Camilla moved to America with her mum, and it was there her life began to spiral out of control.

'I hid drugs in my dorm room'

Aged 11, Camilla tried her first glass of wine for a dare.

As a teenager she got into cocaine, admitting: "I started to run with the fast crowd. We drank, smoked and hung out with older boys.

"My new persona was the popular wild-child bad girl and my parents thought the answer was to send me to boarding school.

"Life was one long party. There was cocaine, weed, ecstasy and a lot of drinking. I hid drugs in the ceiling of my dorm."

In her teens and early twenties, Camilla was in and out of rehab "five-ish" times for drug and alcohol addiction, including a stint at Promises, a £30,000-a-month clinic in Malibu.

I started using drugs because I was insecure and wanted to be cool. It nearly killed me

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2008, Camilla – who by that point had been clean nearly two years – said: "I started using drugs because I was insecure and wanted to be cool.

"It nearly killed me and I know how lucky I am to be here today."

While studying at university and pursuing a career as an equestrian her problem worsened.

"Eventually, my face was bloated from the alcohol and I started having panic attacks from the cocaine," she explained.

"I would wake up and not be able to breathe. My body shook from withdrawal symptoms.

"I’d feel suicidal pangs of depression, and use drink and drugs to get rid of those feelings."

Woke up 'covered in blood and vomit'

After numerous brushes with the law, including two drink-driving convictions, Camilla's lowest point came after a wedding.

A passerby called police after seeing her and her pals doing cocaine in a hotel room – and Camilla refused to go quietly, lashing out while being arrested.

She recalled: "I woke up the next morning on the cold cell floor, covered in my own blood and vomit, and wearing only my underwear.

"I was coming down off coke, shaking and crying. I was packed off to a psychiatric ward to detox and then to a rehab clinic."

In 2006 dad John froze her bank accounts and refused to take her calls.

I woke up the next morning on the cold cell floor, covered in my own blood and vomit, and wearing only my underwear

Camilla says: "I lived in a friend’s walk-in closet, sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I got a couple of bar-tending jobs.

"I felt for sure Dad would crack and get in touch. But he had been told that tough love was the only thing that would save my life."

They were estranged for a while, until she eventually called him asking for help in April 2007 – a move that turned her life around.

She says: "I cried my heart out. The most painful thing in my life was Dad not talking to me.

"That was what made me realise, eventually, that I needed to sober up."

'I don't look like him – thank f*****g God'

After getting clean, Camilla began pursuing a career in comedy as a performer, producer and writer.

Fawlty Towers won't be the first time the father-daughter duo have teamed up; Camilla wrote for his 2011 show The Alimony Tour, and she has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

While 6ft 1in Camilla, who dated Entourage and Mr Selfridge star Jeremy Piven in 2008, takes after her father in many ways, she insists she doesn't look like him.

"Thank f*****g God," she told The Guardian. "He’s a good-looking guy but the underbite, the moustache, would not be a good look.

"But I got his height."

Now Camilla and her dad share a loving and harmonious relationship – with John telling the Daily Mail: "She is my greatest joy and her being sober is the most wonderful gift anyone has ever given me".

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But they do enjoy a joke at each other's expense; Camilla said: "He nicknamed me sabre-toothed daughter which he soon shortened to STD.

"Someone calling ‘STD!’ in public is not something you want to be responding to!"

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