New John Cleese sitcom Hold The Sunset is ratings success

Wendy (Rosie Cavaliero), Sandra (Joanna Scanlan), Phil (John Cleese), Edith (Alison Steadman), Roger (Jason Watkins), Mrs Gale (Anne Reid)
Wendy (Rosie Cavaliero), Sandra (Joanna Scanlan), Phil (John Cleese), Edith (Alison Steadman), Roger (Jason Watkins), Mrs Gale (Anne Reid)
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John Cleese's first sitcom since Fawlty Towers, Hold The Sunset, has been the most successful comedy launch on BBC One in more than three years.

According to overnight data, the first episode of the series saw an average of 6.2 million viewers and a peak of 7.2 million tune in when it debuted on Sunday night.

It marks the highest-rated comedy launch on BBC One since Still Open All Hours, starring Sir David Jason, began in December 2014, with consolidated ratings of 6.8 million viewers.

Shane Allen, controller of comedy commissioning, said: "This is a superb launch for a show that is awash with comedy acting royalty and cements the BBC's unique ongoing commitment to delivering mainstream popular comedy on BBC One."

Hold The Sunset is veteran actor Cleese's first sitcom appearance since he starred in his self-penned series nearly 40 years ago as the hilariously neurotic hotel owner Basil Fawlty.

The Monty Python star plays Phil, who is keen to move abroad with his ex-partner and neighbour Edith, played by Alison Steadman.

After months of her turning him down, Edith - who has been widowed for some time - finally says yes to Phil's pleas for a new life together, but their plans are scuppered when her 50-year-old son Roger knocks on her door and announces he has left his wife and children.

Hold The Sunset was written by Charles McKeown, and also stars Jason Watkins, Anne Reid, Rosie Cavaliero, Joanna Scanlan and James Cosmo.