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''Fawlty Towers'' is a British television sitcom written by
John Cleese John Marwood Cleese ( ; born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. Emerging from the Cambridge Footlights in the 1960s, he first achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and ...
and Connie Booth, broadcast on
BBC2 BBC Two is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network owned and operated by the BBC. It covers a wide range of subject matter, with a remit "to broadcast programmes of depth and substance" in contrast to the more mainstream an ...
in 1975 and 1979. Two series of six episodes each were made. The show was ranked first on a list of the
100 Greatest British Television Programmes The BFI TV 100 is a list of 100 television programmes or series that was compiled in 2000 by the British Film Institute (BFI), as chosen by a poll of industry professionals, with the aim to determine the best British television programmes of any ...
drawn up by the
British Film Institute The British Film Institute (BFI) is a film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves film-making and television in the United Kingdom. The BFI uses funds provided by the National Lottery (United Kingdom), National Lot ...
in 2000 and, in 2019, it was named the greatest ever British TV sitcom by a panel of comedy experts compiled by the ''
Radio Times ''Radio Times'' (currently styled as ''RadioTimes'') is a British weekly listings magazine devoted to television and radio programme schedules, with other features such as interviews, film reviews and lifestyle items. Founded in May 1923 by J ...
''.Mattha Busby, 9 April 2019
"Fawlty Towers named greatest ever British TV sitcom"
''The Guardian'', Retrieved 24 May 2019
The series is set in Fawlty Towers, a fictional
hotel A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a ref ...
in the seaside town of Torquay on the English Riviera. The plots centre on the tense, rude and put-upon owner Basil Fawlty (Cleese), his bossy wife Sybil ( Prunella Scales), the sensible chambermaid Polly (Booth) who often is the peacemaker and voice of reason, and the hapless and English-challenged Spanish waiter
Manuel Manuel may refer to: People * Manuel (name) * Manuel (Fawlty Towers), a fictional character from the sitcom ''Fawlty Towers'' * Charlie Manuel, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies * Manuel I Komnenos, emperor of the Byzantine Empire * Manu ...
(
Andrew Sachs Andreas Siegfried Sachs (7 April 1930 – 23 November 2016), known professionally as Andrew Sachs, was a German-born British actor and writer. He made his name on British television and found his greatest fame for his portrayal of the comical Sp ...
). They show their attempts to run the hotel amidst farcical situations and an array of demanding and eccentric guests and tradespeople. The idea of the show came from Cleese after he stayed at the
Gleneagles Hotel Gleneagles Hotel is a hotel near Auchterarder, Scotland. It was commissioned by the Caledonian Railway and opened in 1924. The bandleader, Henry Hall, performed at the hotel before the Second World War during which it served as a military ...
in Torquay,
Devon Devon ( , historically known as Devonshire , ) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in South West England. The most populous settlement in Devon is the city of Plymouth, followed by Devon's county town, the city of Exeter. Devon is a ...
in 1970 (along with the rest of the
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British comedy troupe who created the sketch comedy television show ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'', which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four ...
troupe), where he encountered the eccentric hotel owner Donald Sinclair. Stuffy and snobbish, Sinclair treated guests as though they were a hindrance to his running of the hotel (a waitress who worked for him stated "it was as if he didn't want the guests to be there"). Sinclair was the inspiration for Cleese's character Basil Fawlty. In 1976 and 1980, ''Fawlty Towers'' won the
British Academy Television Award for Best Scripted Comedy British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...
. In 1980, Cleese received the British Academy Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance, and, in a 2001 poll conducted by
Channel 4 Channel 4 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network operated by the state-owned Channel Four Television Corporation. It began its transmission on 2 November 1982 and was established to provide a fourth television service in ...
, Basil Fawlty was ranked second on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters. The popularity of ''Fawlty Towers'' has endured, and it is often re-broadcast. The BBC profile for the series states that "the British sitcom by which all other British sitcoms must be judged, ''Fawlty Towers'' withstands multiple viewings, is eminently quotable (' don't mention the war') and stands up to this day as a jewel in the BBC's comedy crown."


Origins

In May 1970, the
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British comedy troupe who created the sketch comedy television show ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'', which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four ...
comedy group stayed at the now demolished
Gleneagles Hotel Gleneagles Hotel is a hotel near Auchterarder, Scotland. It was commissioned by the Caledonian Railway and opened in 1924. The bandleader, Henry Hall, performed at the hotel before the Second World War during which it served as a military ...
in Torquay,
Devon Devon ( , historically known as Devonshire , ) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in South West England. The most populous settlement in Devon is the city of Plymouth, followed by Devon's county town, the city of Exeter. Devon is a ...
while filming on location in
Paignton Paignton ( ) is a seaside town on the coast of Tor Bay in Devon, England. Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the borough of Torbay which was created in 1998. The Torbay area is a holiday destination known as the English Riviera. Paign ...
.
John Cleese John Marwood Cleese ( ; born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. Emerging from the Cambridge Footlights in the 1960s, he first achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and ...
was fascinated with the behaviour of the owner, Donald Sinclair, later describing him as "the rudest man I've ever come across in my life". Among such behaviour by Sinclair was his criticism of
Terry Gilliam Terrence Vance Gilliam (; born 22 November 1940) is an American-born British filmmaker, comedian, animator, actor and former member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Gilliam has directed 13 feature films, including '' Time Bandits'' (1981), '' ...
's "too American" table
etiquette Etiquette () is the set of norms of personal behaviour in polite society, usually occurring in the form of an ethical code of the expected and accepted social behaviours that accord with the conventions and norms observed and practised by a ...
and tossing Eric Idle's briefcase out of a window "in case it contained a bomb". Asked why would anyone want to bomb the hotel, Sinclair replied, "We've had a lot of staff problems". Michael Palin states Sinclair "seemed to view us as a colossal inconvenience". Rosemary Harrison, a waitress at the Gleneagles under Sinclair, described him as "bonkers" and lacking in hospitality, deeming him wholly unsuitable for a hotel proprietor. "It was as if he didn't want the guests to be there." Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth stayed on at the hotel after filming, furthering their research of its owner. Demolished in 2015, the building was replaced by a new retirement home named Sachs Lodge in memory of
Andrew Sachs Andreas Siegfried Sachs (7 April 1930 – 23 November 2016), known professionally as Andrew Sachs, was a German-born British actor and writer. He made his name on British television and found his greatest fame for his portrayal of the comical Sp ...
who played Manuel in the sitcom and who died in 2016. Cleese was a writer on the 1970s British TV sitcom '' Doctor in the House'' for
London Weekend Television London Weekend Television (LWT) (now part of the non-franchised ITV London region) was the ITV (TV network), ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties at weekends, broadcasting from Fridays at 5.15 pm (7:00&nbs ...
. An early prototype of the character that became known as Basil Fawlty was developed in an episode ("No Ill Feeling") of the third ''Doctor'' series (titled '' Doctor at Large''). In this edition, the main character checks into a small-town hotel, his very presence seemingly winding up the aggressive and incompetent manager (played by Timothy Bateson) with a domineering wife. The show was broadcast on 30 May 1971. Cleese said in 2008 that the first ''Fawlty Towers'' script he and Booth wrote was rejected by the BBC. At a 30th anniversary event honouring the show, Cleese said, Cleese was paid £6,000 for 43 weeks' work and supplemented his income by appearing in television advertisements. He states, "I have to thank the advertising industry for making this possible. Connie and I used to spend six weeks writing each episode and we didn't make a lot of money out of it. If it hadn't been for the commercials I wouldn't have been able to afford to spend so much time on the script."


Production

Although the series is set in Torquay, no part of it was shot in South West England. For the exterior filming, the
Wooburn Wooburn is a large village in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located off the A4094 road between Wooburn Green and Bourne End in the very south of the county near the River Thames, about two miles south west of Beaconsfield and four miles east ...
Grange Country Club in
Bourne End, Buckinghamshire Bourne End is a village mostly in the parish of Wooburn, but partly in that of Little Marlow in Buckinghamshire, England. It is about five miles (8 km) south-east of High Wycombe and three miles (5 km) east of Marlow, near the bou ...
was used instead of a hotel. In several episodes of the series (notably " The Kipper and the Corpse", " The Anniversary", and " Basil the Rat"), the entrance gate at the bottom of the drive states the real name of the location. This listed building later served for a short time as a
nightclub A nightclub (music club, discothèque, disco club, or simply club) is an entertainment venue during nighttime comprising a dance floor, lightshow, and a stage for live music or a disc jockey (DJ) who plays recorded music. Nightclubs gene ...
named "Basil's" after the series ended, before being destroyed by a fire in March 1991. The remnants of the building were demolished and a
housing estate A housing estate (or sometimes housing complex or housing development) is a group of homes and other buildings built together as a single development. The exact form may vary from country to country. Popular throughout the United States a ...
was built on the site. Few traces of the original site exist today. Other location filming was done mostly around Harrow: firstly the 'damn good thrashing' scene in " Gourmet Night" in which Basil loses his temper and attacks his broken-down car with a tree branch. It was filmed at the T-junction of Lapstone Gardens and Mentmore Close (). Secondly the episode "
The Germans "The Germans" (named on some releases as "Fire Drill") is the sixth episode of the BBC sitcom '' Fawlty Towers''. In the episode, while suffering the effects of concussion, Basil Fawlty repeatedly offends some German guests. Despite warning ...
", the opening shot is of Northwick Park Hospital. Thirdly "Gourmet Night"'s exterior of André's restaurant was at Preston Road (). It is now a Chinese and Indian restaurant ''Wings'' next to a
launderette A self-service laundry, coin laundry, laundromat, or coin wash is a facility where clothes are washed and dried without much personalized professional help. They are known in the United Kingdom as launderettes or laundrettes, and in the Unit ...
. Both Cleese and Booth were keen on every script being perfect, and some episodes took four months and required as many as ten drafts until they were satisfied. The theme music was composed by
Dennis Wilson Dennis Carl Wilson (December 4, 1944 – December 28, 1983) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the Beach Boys. He is best remembered as their drummer and as the middle brother of bandmates Brian and Carl Wilson. ...
. It was recorded by the highly respected
Aeolian Quartet The Aeolian Quartet was a highly reputed string quartet based in London, England, with a long international touring history and presence, an important recording and broadcasting profile. It was the successor of the pre-War Stratton Quartet. The q ...
, who were asked by director John Davis to perform the piece badly, although in the end they did not.


Plot directions and examples

The series focuses on the exploits and misadventures of short-fused hotelier Basil Fawlty and his acerbic wife Sybil, as well as their employees: waiter
Manuel Manuel may refer to: People * Manuel (name) * Manuel (Fawlty Towers), a fictional character from the sitcom ''Fawlty Towers'' * Charlie Manuel, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies * Manuel I Komnenos, emperor of the Byzantine Empire * Manu ...
, Polly Sherman, and, in the second series, chef Terry. The episodes typically revolve around Basil's efforts to "raise the tone" of his hotel and his increasing frustration at numerous complications and mistakes, both his own and those of others, which prevent him from doing so. Much of the humour comes from Basil's overly aggressive manner, engaging in angry but witty arguments with guests, staff and, in particular, Sybil, whom he addresses (in a faux-romantic way) with insults such as "that golfing
puff adder The puff adder (''Bitis arietans'') is a viper species found in savannahs and grasslands from Morocco and western Arabia throughout Africa except for the Sahara and rainforest regions.U.S. Navy. 1991. ''Venomous Snakes of the World''. US Govt ...
", "my little
piranha A piranha or piraña (, , or ; or , ) is one of a number of freshwater fish in the family Serrasalmidae, or the subfamily Serrasalminae within the tetra family, Characidae in order Characiformes. These fish inhabit South American rivers, fl ...
fish" and "my little nest of vipers". Despite this, Basil frequently feels intimidated, Sybil being able to cow him at any time, usually with a short, sharp cry of "Basil!" At the end of some episodes, Basil succeeds in annoying (or at least bemusing) the guests and frequently gets his comeuppance. The plots occasionally are intricate and always
farcical Farce is a comedy that seeks to entertain an audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, ridiculous, absurd, and improbable. Farce is also characterized by heavy use of physical humor; the use of deliberate absurdity or ...
, involving coincidences, misunderstandings, cross-purposes and meetings both missed and accidental. The innuendo of the bedroom farce is sometimes present (often to the disgust of the socially conservative Basil) but it is his eccentricity, not his lust, that drives the plots. The events test to the breaking point what little patience Basil has, sometimes causing him to have a near breakdown by the end of the episode. The guests at the hotel typically are comic foils to Basil's anger and outbursts. Guest characters in each episode provide different characteristics (working class, promiscuous, foreign) that he cannot stand. Requests both reasonable and impossible test his temper. Even the afflicted annoy him, as for example in the episode "Communication Problems", revolving around the havoc caused by the frequent misunderstandings between the staff and the hard-of-hearing Mrs. Richards. Near the end, Basil pretends to faint just at the mention of her name. This episode is typical of the show's careful weaving of humorous situations through comedy cross-talk. The show also uses mild black humour at times, notably when Basil is forced to hide a dead body and in his comments about Sybil ("Did you ever see that film, '' How to Murder Your Wife''? ... Awfully good. I saw it six times.") and to Mrs Richards, ("May I suggest that you consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea? Or preferably in it."). Basil's physical outbursts are primarily directed at Manuel, an emotional but largely innocent
Spaniard Spaniards, or Spanish people, are a Romance ethnic group native to Spain. Within Spain, there are a number of national and regional ethnic identities that reflect the country's complex history, including a number of different languages, both ...
whose confused English vocabulary causes him to make elementary mistakes. At times, Basil beats Manuel with a frying pan and smacks his forehead with a spoon. The violence towards Manuel caused rare negative criticism of the show. Sybil and Polly, on the other hand, are more patient and understanding toward Manuel; everyone's usual excuse for his behaviour to guests is, "He's from
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within c ...
"; Manuel even once used the excuse for himself. Basil longs for a touch of
class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analytical concept used differentl ...
, sometimes playing recordings of classical music. In the first episode he is playing music by
Brahms Johannes Brahms (; 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the mid- Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, he spent much of his professional life in Vienna. He is sometimes grouped w ...
when Sybil remarks, after pestering him asking to do different tasks: "You could have them both done by now if you hadn't spent the whole morning skulking in there listening to that racket." Basil replies, with exasperation, "Racket?? That's Brahms! Brahms' Third Racket!" Basil often displays blatant snobbishness as he attempts to climb the social ladder, frequently expressing disdain for the " riff-raff", " cretins" and " yobbos" that he believes regularly populate his hotel. His desperation is readily apparent as he makes increasingly hopeless manoeuvres and painful faux pas in trying to curry favour with those he perceives as having superior social status. Yet he finds himself forced to serve those individuals that are "beneath" him. As such, Basil's efforts tend to be counter-productive, with guests leaving the hotel in disgust and his marriage (and sanity) stretching to breaking point.


Characters


Basil Fawlty

Basil Fawlty, played by
John Cleese John Marwood Cleese ( ; born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. Emerging from the Cambridge Footlights in the 1960s, he first achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and ...
, is a cynical and snobbish
misanthrope Misanthropy is the general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species, human behavior or human nature. A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word's origin is from the Greek words μῖσ ...
who is desperate to belong to a higher social class. He sees a successful hotel as a means of achieving this, yet his job forces him to be polite to people he despises. He is intimidated by his wife Sybil Fawlty. He yearns to stand up to her, but his plans frequently conflict with her demands. She is often verbally abusive (describing him as "an ageing, brilliantined stick insect") but although he towers over her, he often finds himself on the receiving end of her temper, verbally and physically (as in " The Builders"). Basil usually turns to Manuel or Polly to help him with his schemes, while trying his best to keep Sybil from discovering them. However, Basil occasionally laments the time when there was passion in their relationship, now seemingly lost. Also, it appears he still does care for her, and actively resists the flirtations of a French guest in one episode. The penultimate episode, " The Anniversary", is about his efforts to put together a surprise anniversary party involving their closest friends. Things go wrong as Basil pretends the anniversary date does not remind him of anything though he pretends to have a stab at it by reeling off a list of random anniversaries, starting with the
Battle of Agincourt The Battle of Agincourt ( ; french: Azincourt ) was an English victory in the Hundred Years' War. It took place on 25 October 1415 ( Saint Crispin's Day) near Azincourt, in northern France. The unexpected English victory against the numeri ...
, for which he receives a slap from Sybil, who becomes increasingly frustrated and angry. He continues guessing even after Sybil is out of earshot, and mentions other anniversaries (none of which happened on 17 April), including the
Battle of Trafalgar The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval engagement between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the War of the Third Coalition (August–December 1805) of the Napoleonic Wars (18 ...
and Yom Kippur, just to enhance the surprise. Sybil believes he really has forgotten, and leaves in a huff. In an interview in the DVD box set, Cleese claims this episode deliberately takes a slightly different tone from the others, fleshing out their otherwise inexplicable status as a couple. In keeping with the lack of explanation about the marriage, not much is revealed of the characters' back-stories. It is known that Basil served in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces along with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. , the British Army comprises 79,380 regular full-time personnel, 4,090 Gurkhas ...
and saw action in the
Korean War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Korean War , partof = the Cold War and the Korean conflict , image = Korean War Montage 2.png , image_size = 300px , caption = Clockwise from top:{{ ...
, possibly as part of his
National Service National service is the system of voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription is mandatory national service. The term ''national service'' comes from the United Kingdom's National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939. The ...
. (John Cleese himself was only 13 when the Korean War ended, making the character of Basil at least five or six years older than he.) Basil exaggerates this period of his life, proclaiming to strangers, "I killed four men." To this Sybil jokes that "He was in the Catering Corps. He used to poison them." Basil often is seen wearing regimental and old boy-style ties, perhaps spuriously, one of which in the colours of the Army Catering Corps. He also claims to have sustained a shrapnel injury to his leg; it tends to flare up at suspiciously convenient times. The only person towards whom Basil consistently exhibits tolerance and good manners is the old and senile Major Gowen, a veteran of one of the
world war A world war is an international conflict which involves all or most of the world's major powers. Conventionally, the term is reserved for two major international conflicts that occurred during the first half of the 20th century, World WarI (1914 ...
s (which one is never specified, though he once mentions to Mrs Peignoir that he was in France in 1918) who permanently resides at the hotel. When interacting with Manuel, Basil displays a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish (Basil states that he "learned classical Spanish, not the strange dialect he [Manuel] seems to have picked up"); this knowledge is also ridiculed, as in the first episode in which a guest, whom Basil has immediately dismissed as working-class, communicates fluently with Manuel in Spanish after Basil is unable to do so. Cleese described Basil as thinking that "he could run a first-rate hotel if he didn't have all the guests getting in the way" and as being "an absolutely awful human being" but says that in comedy if an awful person makes people laugh they unaccountably feel affectionate towards him. Indeed, he is not entirely unsympathetic. The " Hotel Inspectors" and " Gourmet Night" episodes feature guests who are shown to be deeply annoying, with constant and unreasonable demands. In "Gourmet Night" the chef gets drunk and is unable to cook dinner, leaving Basil to scramble in an attempt to salvage the evening. Much of the time, Basil is an unfortunate victim of circumstance.


Sybil Fawlty

Sybil Fawlty, played by Prunella Scales, is Basil's wife. Energetic and petite, she prefers a working wardrobe of tight skirt-suits in shiny fabrics and sports a tower of permed hair augmented with hairpieces and wigs and necessitating the use of overnight curlers. She often is a more effective manager of the hotel, making sure Basil gets certain jobs done or stays out of the way when she is handling difficult guests. Typically when Basil is on the verge of meltdown due to a crisis (usually of his own making), it is Sybil who steps in to clear up the mess and bring some sense to the situation. Despite this, she rarely participates directly in the running of the hotel. During busy check-in sessions or meal times, while everyone else is busy working, Sybil is frequently talking on the phone to one of her friends with her phrase "Oohhh, I knoooooooow" or chatting to customers. She has a distinctive conversational tone and braying laugh, which Basil compares to "someone machine-gunning a seal". Being his wife, she is the only regular character who refers to Basil by his first name. When she barks his name at him, he flinchingly freezes in his tracks. Basil refers to her by a number of epithets, occasionally to her face, including "that golfing puff-adder", "the dragon", "toxic midget", "the sabre-toothed tart", "my little kommandant", "my little piranha fish", "my little nest of vipers" and "you rancorous, coiffured old sow". Despite these nasty nicknames, Basil is terrified of her. The 1979 episode " The Psychiatrist" contains the only time he loses patience and snaps at her (Basil: "Shut up, I'm fed up." Sybil: "Oh, you've done it now."). Prunella Scales speculated in an interview for ''The Complete Fawlty Towers'' DVD box set that Sybil married Basil because his origins were of a higher social class than hers.


Polly Sherman

Polly Sherman, played by Connie Booth, is a
waitress Waiting staff (British English), waitstaff (North American English), waiters (male) / waitresses (female), or servers (North American English), are those who work at a restaurant, a diner, or a bar and sometimes in private homes, attending ...
and general assistant at the hotel with artistic aspirations. She is the most competent of the staff and the voice of sanity during chaotic moments, but is frequently embroiled in ridiculous masquerades as she loyally attempts to aid Basil in trying to cover a mistake or keep something from Sybil. In " The Anniversary" she snaps and refuses to help Basil out when he wants her to impersonate Sybil in the semi-darkness of her bedroom in front of the Fawltys' friends, Basil having dug himself into a hole by claiming Sybil was ill instead of admitting she had stormed out earlier in annoyance with him. Polly finally agrees, but only on condition that Basil lends her money to purchase a car, which he has previously refused to do. Polly generally is good-natured but sometimes shows her frustration, and has odd moments of malice. In " The Kipper and the Corpse", the pampered shih-tzu dog of an elderly guest bites Polly and Manuel. As revenge, Polly laces the dog's sausages with black pepper and Tabasco sauce ("bangers à la bang"), making it ill and eventually killing it. Despite her part-time employment (during meal times), Polly frequently is saddled with many other duties, including as manager in "
The Germans "The Germans" (named on some releases as "Fire Drill") is the sixth episode of the BBC sitcom '' Fawlty Towers''. In the episode, while suffering the effects of concussion, Basil Fawlty repeatedly offends some German guests. Despite warning ...
" when Sybil and Basil are incapacitated. In the first series, Polly is said to be an art student who, according to Basil, has spent three years at college. In " Gourmet Night", she is seen to draw a sketch (presumably of Manuel), which everyone but Basil immediately recognises and she sells to the chef for 50p. Polly is not referred to as a student in the second series, although in both series she is shown to have a flair for languages, displaying ability in both Spanish and German. In "The Germans", Basil alludes to Polly's polyglot inclination by saying that she does her work "while learning two Oriental languages". Like Manuel, she has a room of her own at the hotel.


Manuel

Manuel Manuel may refer to: People * Manuel (name) * Manuel (Fawlty Towers), a fictional character from the sitcom ''Fawlty Towers'' * Charlie Manuel, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies * Manuel I Komnenos, emperor of the Byzantine Empire * Manu ...
, a waiter played by
Andrew Sachs Andreas Siegfried Sachs (7 April 1930 – 23 November 2016), known professionally as Andrew Sachs, was a German-born British actor and writer. He made his name on British television and found his greatest fame for his portrayal of the comical Sp ...
, is a well-meaning but disorganised and confused
Spaniard Spaniards, or Spanish people, are a Romance ethnic group native to Spain. Within Spain, there are a number of national and regional ethnic identities that reflect the country's complex history, including a number of different languages, both ...
from
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within c ...
with a poor grasp of the English language and customs. He is verbally and physically abused by his boss. When told what to do, he often responds, "¿Qué?" ("What?"). Manuel's character is used to demonstrate Basil's instinctive lack of sensitivity and tolerance. Every episode involves Basil becoming enraged at Manuel's confusion at his boss's bizarre demands and even basic requests. Manuel is afraid of Fawlty's quick temper and violent assaults, yet often expresses his appreciation for being given employment. He is relentlessly enthusiastic and is proud of what little English he knows. During the series, Sachs was seriously injured twice. Cleese describes using a real metal pan to knock Manuel unconscious in " The Wedding Party", although he would have preferred to use a rubber one. The original producer and director, John Howard Davies, said that he made Basil use a metal one and that he was responsible for most of the violence on the show, which he felt was essential to the type of comical farce they were creating. Later, when Sachs's clothes were treated to give off smoke after he escapes the burning kitchen in "
The Germans "The Germans" (named on some releases as "Fire Drill") is the sixth episode of the BBC sitcom '' Fawlty Towers''. In the episode, while suffering the effects of concussion, Basil Fawlty repeatedly offends some German guests. Despite warning ...
", the corrosive chemicals ate through them and gave Sachs severe burns. Manuel's exaggerated Spanish accent is part of the humour of the show. In fact, Sachs's original language was German; he emigrated to Britain as a child. The character's nationality was switched to Italian (and the name to Paolo) for the Spanish dub of the show, while in
Catalonia Catalonia (; ca, Catalunya ; Aranese Occitan: ''Catalonha'' ; es, Cataluña ) is an autonomous community of Spain, designated as a ''nationality'' by its Statute of Autonomy. Most of the territory (except the Val d'Aran) lies on the nort ...
and France, Manuel is a Mexican.


Other regular characters and themes

* Terry Hughes, played by Brian Hall, appears in only the second series of episodes. He is the sly, somewhat shifty
Cockney Cockney is an accent and dialect of English, mainly spoken in London and its environs, particularly by working-class and lower middle-class Londoners. The term "Cockney" has traditionally been used to describe a person from the East End, or bo ...
chef at Fawlty Towers. Though apparently a competent chef ("I 'ave been to catering school!"), Terry's cooking methods are somewhat casual, which frustrates and worries the neurotic Basil. He used to work in Dorchester (not at The Dorchester, as a guest wrongly infers). In " The Anniversary" Terry and Manuel come to blows since Terry doesn't like anyone else cooking in his kitchen, so he proceeds to sabotage the paella Manuel is making for Sybil, leading to fisticuffs at the end of the episode. Cleese himself told Hall to portray Terry as if he were on the run from the police. * Major Gowen, played by Ballard Berkeley, is a slightly senile, amiable old soldier who is a permanent resident of the hotel. He is one of the few guests whom Basil seems to like. This is because he has the
establishment Establishment may refer to: * The Establishment, a dominant group or elite that controls a polity or an organization * The Establishment (club), a 1960s club in London, England * The Establishment (Pakistan), political terminology for the milita ...
status that Basil craves. He usually wears the
Royal Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is one of two regiments that make up the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises t ...
jagged-striped tie, and once mentions to Mrs. Peignoir being in France in 1918. He often is introduced as their "oldest resident" and in the episode "Waldorf Salad" Basil reveals that the Major has lived there for seven years. He enjoys talking about the world outside, especially the cricket scores and workers' strikes (the frequent strikes at
British Leyland British Leyland was an automotive engineering and manufacturing conglomerate formed in the United Kingdom in 1968 as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd (BLMC), following the merger of Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings. It was partl ...
during the time of the series' original transmission were often mentioned), and is always on the lookout for the newspaper. In the episode "
The Germans "The Germans" (named on some releases as "Fire Drill") is the sixth episode of the BBC sitcom '' Fawlty Towers''. In the episode, while suffering the effects of concussion, Basil Fawlty repeatedly offends some German guests. Despite warning ...
" he shows he has trouble forgiving the Germans because of the wars. The best he can say is that German women make good card players. In the same episode, he also demonstrates his outdated racial attitudes when he comments about the ethnic difference between " wogs" and "
niggers In the English language, the word ''nigger'' is an ethnic slur used against black people, especially African Americans. Starting in the late 1990s, references to ''nigger'' have been progressively replaced by the euphemism , notably in cas ...
". Despite his good intentions, the Major can cause Basil's plans to go awry, notably in the episode " Communication Problems" in which Basil tries his best to keep the money he won in a bet a secret from Sybil. * Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby, played by Gilly Flower and Renee Roberts, are the other two permanent residents. Seemingly inseparable, these sweet-natured, dotty spinsters appear to have taken a fancy to Basil, feeling that they need to take care of him. In response, Basil vacillates between superficial charm and blunt rudeness during his conversations with them. * Audrey is Sybil's lifelong best friend, and is mostly acknowledged during gossipy telephone calls. Talking with her is a refuge for Sybil. When times get tough for Audrey, who has a dysfunctional relationship with her husband George, Sybil will offer solutions and guidance, often resulting in the catchphrase "Ohhh, I knowwww..." when she tries to commiserate with Audrey's problems. In Audrey's one on-screen appearance, in "The Anniversary", she is played by actress Christine Shaw. Basil tells Major Gowen that he thinks she is a "dreadful woman". * A
running gag A running gag, or running joke, is a literary device that takes the form of an amusing joke or a comical reference and appears repeatedly throughout a work of literature or other form of storytelling. Though they are similar, catchphrases are not ...
throughout the two series is the rearranged letters of the "Fawlty Towers" hotel sign which is shown at the beginning of every episode except "The Germans", when a hospital exterior is used as an
establishing shot An establishing shot in filmmaking and television production sets up, or establishes, the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects. It is generally a long or extreme-long shot at the beginning of ...
. The paperboy, though rarely seen, is revealed at the beginning of "The Psychiatrist" in the second series to be the prankster who rearranges the letters on the sign to sometimes crude phrases. * Terence Conoley appears in two episodes as entirely different characters. In "A Touch of Class" he plays Mr. Wareing, and in "Waldorf Salad" he portrays Mr. Johnston.


Episodes

The first episode of ''Fawlty Towers'' was recorded as a pilot on 24 December 1974, the rest of the series being recorded later in 1975. It was then originally broadcast on 19 September. The 12th and final episode was first shown on 25 October 1979. The first series was directed by John Howard Davies, the second by Bob Spiers. Both had their premieres on
BBC2 BBC Two is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network owned and operated by the BBC. It covers a wide range of subject matter, with a remit "to broadcast programmes of depth and substance" in contrast to the more mainstream an ...
. When originally transmitted, the individual episodes had no on-screen titles. The ones in common currency were first used for the VHS release of the series in the 1980s. There were working titles, such as "USA" for "Waldorf Salad", "Death" for "The Kipper and the Corpse" and "Rat" for "Basil the Rat", which have been printed in some programme guides. In addition, some of the early BBC audio releases of episodes on vinyl and cassette included other variations, such as "Mrs. Richards" and "The Rat" for "Communication Problems" and "Basil the Rat" respectively. It has long been rumoured that a 13th episode of the series was written and filmed, but never progressed further than a rough cut. Lars Holger Holm, author of the book ''Fawlty Towers: A Worshipper's Companion,'' has made detailed claims about the episode's content, but he provides no concrete evidence of its existence. On the subject of whether more episodes would be produced, Cleese said (in an interview for the complete DVD box set, which was republished in the book ''Fawlty Towers Fully Booked'') that he once had the genesis of a feature-length special – possibly sometime during the mid-1990s. The plot, never fleshed out beyond his initial idea, would have revolved around the chaos that a now-retired Basil typically caused as he and Sybil flew to
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within c ...
to visit their former employee Manuel and his family. Of the idea, Cleese said:
We had an idea for a plot which I loved. Basil was finally invited to Spain to meet Manuel's family. He gets to Heathrow and then spends about 14 frustrating hours waiting for the flight. Finally, on the plane, a terrorist pulls a gun and tries to hijack the thing. Basil is so angry he overcomes the terrorist, and when the pilot says, 'We have to fly back to Heathrow' Basil says, 'No, fly us to Spain or I'll shoot you.' He arrives in Spain, is immediately arrested, and spends the entire holiday in a Spanish jail. He is released just in time to go back on the plane with Sybil. It was very funny, but I couldn't do it at the time. Making 'Fawlty Towers' work at 90 minutes was a very difficult proposition. You can build up the comedy for 30 minutes, but at that length there has to be a trough and another peak. It doesn't interest me. I don't want to do it.
Cleese also may have been reticent because of Connie Booth's unwillingness to be involved. She had practically retreated from public life after the show finished (and had been initially unwilling to collaborate on a second series, which explains the four-year gap between productions). The decision by Cleese and Booth to quit before a third series has often been lauded as it ensured the show's successful status would not be weakened with later, lower-quality work. Subsequently, it has inspired the makers of other shows to do likewise.
Ricky Gervais Ricky Dene Gervais ( ; born 25 June 1961) is an English comedian, actor, writer, and director. He co-created, co-wrote, and acted in the British television sitcoms ''The Office'' (2001–2003), '' Extras'' (2005–2007), and '' An Idiot Abroad' ...
and
Stephen Merchant Stephen James Merchant (born 24 November 1974) is an English comedian, actor, director, presenter and writer. Alongside Ricky Gervais, Merchant was the co-writer and co-director of the British TV comedy series ''The Office'' (2001–2003), an ...
refused to make a third series of either '' The Office'' or '' Extras'', citing ''Fawlty Towers' '' short lifespan.
Rik Mayall Richard Michael Mayall (7 March 1958 – 9 June 2014) was an English actor, stand-up comedian and writer. He formed a close partnership with Ade Edmondson while they were students at Manchester University and was a pioneer of alternative ...
,
Ben Elton Benjamin Charles Elton (born 3 May 1959) is an English comedian, actor, author, playwright, lyricist and director. He was a part of London's alternative comedy movement of the 1980s and became a writer on the sitcoms '' The Young Ones'' and '' B ...
and Lise Mayer, the writers behind '' The Young Ones'', which also ran for only two series (each with six episodes), used this explanation as well. Victoria Wood also indicated this influenced her decision to limit '' dinnerladies'' to 16 episodes over two series. The origins, background and eventual cancellation of the series would later be humorously referenced in 1987's '' The Secret Policeman's Third Ball'' in a sketch in which
Hugh Laurie James Hugh Calum Laurie (; born 11 June 1959) is an English actor, comedian, writer, and musician. He first gained recognition for his work as one half of the comedy double act Fry and Laurie with Stephen Fry. The two men acted together in a ...
and
Stephen Fry Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957) is an English actor, broadcaster, comedian, director and writer. He first came to prominence in the 1980s as one half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, alongside Hugh Laurie, with the two starrin ...
present Cleese — whom they comically misname "Jim Cleese" — with a Dick Emery Lifetime Achievement Award ("Silver Dick") for his contributions to comedy, then launch into a comical series of questions regarding the show, including Cleese's marriage and divorce from Booth, innocently ridiculing Cleese and reducing him to tears, to a point at which he gets on his knees and crawls off the stage while crying.


Series 1 (1975)


Series 2 (1979)

The second series was transmitted three-and-a-half years later, with the first episode being broadcast on 19 February 1979. Due to an industrial dispute at the BBC, which resulted in a strike, the final episode was not completed until well after the others, being finally shown as a one-off instalment on 25 October 1979. The cancelled episode on 19 March was replaced with a repeat of "Gourmet Night" from series 1. In the second series the anagrams were created by Ian McClane, Bob Spier's assistant floor manager.


Reception


Critical reaction

At first, the series was not held in particularly high esteem. ''
The Daily Mirror ''The'' () is a grammatical article in English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers, or speakers. It is the definite article in English. ''The'' is the m ...
s review of the show in 1975 had the headline "Long John Short On Jokes". Eventually though, as the series began to gain popularity, critical acclaim followed. Clive James writing in '' The Observer'' said the second episode had him "retching with laughter." On Rotten Tomatoes, Fawlty Towers has an aggregate score of 100% based on 13 critic reviews. The website’s consensus reads: "''Fawlty Towers'' looms large over British comedy with John Cleese's impeccably hapless performance and an endless array of exuberant slapstick -- making for a supremely stimulating chuckler." One critic of the show was
Richard Ingrams Richard Reid Ingrams (born 19 August 1937 in Chelsea, London) is an English journalist, a co-founder and second editor of the British satirical magazine '' Private Eye'', and founding editor of '' The Oldie'' magazine. He left the latter job ...
, then television reviewer for '' The Spectator'', who wrote a caustic piece, condemning the programme. Cleese got his revenge by naming one of the guests in the second series "Mr. Ingrams", who is caught in his room with a blow-up doll. In an interview for the "TV Characters" edition of
Channel 4 Channel 4 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network operated by the state-owned Channel Four Television Corporation. It began its transmission on 2 November 1982 and was established to provide a fourth television service in ...
's 'talking heads' strand 100 Greatest (in which Basil placed second, between
Homer Simpson Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the American animated sitcom '' The Simpsons''. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared, along with the rest of his family, in ''The Tracey Ullman Show'' short ...
and Edmund Blackadder), TV critic
A. A. Gill Adrian Anthony Gill (28 June 1954 – 10 December 2016) was a British journalist, critic, and author. Best known for his food and travel writing, he was also a television critic, was restaurant reviewer of ''The Sunday Times'', wrote for ''Vani ...
theorised that the initially muted response may have been caused by Cleese seemingly ditching his label as a comic revolutionary – earned through his years with
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British comedy troupe who created the sketch comedy television show ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'', which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four ...
– to do something more traditional. In a list of the
100 Greatest British Television Programmes The BFI TV 100 is a list of 100 television programmes or series that was compiled in 2000 by the British Film Institute (BFI), as chosen by a poll of industry professionals, with the aim to determine the best British television programmes of any ...
drawn up by the
British Film Institute The British Film Institute (BFI) is a film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves film-making and television in the United Kingdom. The BFI uses funds provided by the National Lottery (United Kingdom), National Lot ...
in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, ''Fawlty Towers'' was placed first. It was also voted fifth in the "
Britain's Best Sitcom ''Britain's Best Sitcom'' was a BBC media campaign in which television viewers were asked to decide the best British situation comedy. Viewers could vote via telephone, SMS, or BBC Online. This first round of voting was conducted in 2003, aft ...
" poll in 2004, and second only to ''
Frasier ''Frasier'' () is an American television sitcom that was broadcast on NBC for 11 seasons. It premiered on September 16, 1993, and ended on May 13, 2004. The program was created and produced by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee (as Gr ...
'' in The Ultimate Sitcom poll of comedy writers in January 2006. Basil Fawlty came top of the ''Britain's Funniest Comedy Character'' poll, held by Five on 14 May 2006. In 1997, "
The Germans "The Germans" (named on some releases as "Fire Drill") is the sixth episode of the BBC sitcom '' Fawlty Towers''. In the episode, while suffering the effects of concussion, Basil Fawlty repeatedly offends some German guests. Despite warning ...
" was ranked No. 12 on
TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, ...
. Named in ''
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". The center of the empire (sometimes referred to as the metropole) ex ...
'' magazine's 2016 list of the greatest TV shows of all time, the entry states,


Awards and accolades

Three
British Academy Television Awards The BAFTA TV Awards, or British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the BAFTA. They have been awarded annually since 1955. Background The first-ever Awards, given in 1955, consisted of six categories. Until ...
(BAFTAs) were awarded to people for their involvement with the series. Both of the series were awarded the BAFTA in the category Best Scripted Comedy, the first being won by John Howard Davies in 1976, and the second by Douglas Argent and Bob Spiers in 1980. In 1980, Cleese received the BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance. In a list drawn up by the
British Film Institute The British Film Institute (BFI) is a film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves film-making and television in the United Kingdom. The BFI uses funds provided by the National Lottery (United Kingdom), National Lot ...
in 2000, voted by industry professionals, ''Fawlty Towers'' was named the best British television series of all time.


Legacy

John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 19408 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist who achieved worldwide fame as founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of ...
was a fan of the show. He said in 1980: "I love ''Fawlty Towers''. I'd like to be in that. t'sthe greatest show I've seen in years... what a masterpiece, a beautiful thing." Kate Bush stated, "I still think ''Fawlty Towers'' is the best sitcom ever." Filmmaker
Martin Scorsese Martin Charles Scorsese ( , ; born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and actor. Scorsese emerged as one of the major figures of the New Hollywood era. He is the recipient of many major accolades, incl ...
has remarked he is a great fan of ''Fawlty Towers'' and named "The Germans" as his favourite episode. He described the scene with Basil impersonating Hitler as "so tasteless, it's hilarious".


Remakes, adaptations and reunions

Three attempted
remakes A remake is a film, television series, video game, song or similar form of entertainment that is based upon and retells the story of an earlier production in the same medium—e.g., a "new version of an existing film". A remake tells the s ...
of ''Fawlty Towers'' were started for the American market, with two making it into production. The first, ''Chateau Snavely'' starring Harvey Korman and
Betty White Betty Marion White (January 17, 1922December 31, 2021) was an American actress and comedian. A pioneer of early television, with a television career spanning almost seven decades, White was noted for her vast work in the entertainment indus ...
, was produced by
ABC ABC are the first three letters of the Latin script known as the alphabet. ABC or abc may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Broadcasting * American Broadcasting Company, a commercial U.S. TV broadcaster ** Disney–ABC Televisi ...
for a pilot in 1978, but the transfer from coastal hotel to highway motel proved too much and the series never was produced. The second, also by ABC, was ''
Amanda's ''Amanda's'' (also known as ''Amanda's by the Sea'') is an American sitcom television series based on the 1970s British sitcom ''Fawlty Towers'' that aired on ABC from February 10 to May 26, 1983. The series starred Bea Arthur as Amanda Cartwri ...
,'' starring
Bea Arthur Beatrice Arthur (born Bernice Frankel; May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American actress and comedian. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Arthur began her career on stage in 1947, attracting critical acclaim before achievin ...
, notable for switching the sexes of its Basil and Sybil equivalents. It also failed to pick up a major audience and was dropped after ten episodes had been aired, although 13 episodes were shot. A third remake, called '' Payne'' (produced by and starring
John Larroquette John Bernard Larroquette (; born November 25, 1947) is an American actor. He is known for his starring roles in the NBC military drama series '' Baa Baa Black Sheep'' (1976–1978), the NBC sitcom ''Night Court'' (1984–1992; for which he recei ...
), was produced in 1999, but was cancelled shortly after. Nine episodes were produced of which eight aired on American television (though the complete run was broadcast overseas). A German pilot based on the sitcom was made in 2001, named ''Zum letzten Kliff'' (To the last cliff), but further episodes were not made after its first series. The popular sitcoms '' 3rd Rock from the Sun'' and ''
Cheers ''Cheers'' is an American sitcom television series that ran on NBC from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993, with a total of 275 half-hour episodes across 11 seasons. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions in association w ...
'' (in both of which Cleese made guest appearances) have cited ''Fawlty Towers'' as an inspiration, especially regarding its depiction of a dysfunctional workplace "family". Arthur Mathews and
Graham Linehan Graham Linehan () (born 22 May 1968) is an Irish television writer and anti-transgender activist. He created or co-created the sitcoms ''Father Ted'' (1995–1998), ''Black Books'' (2000–2004) and ''The IT Crowd'' (2006–2013). He has also ...
have cited ''Fawlty Towers'' as a major influence on their sitcom ''
Father Ted ''Father Ted'' is a sitcom created by Irish writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews and produced by British production company Hat Trick Productions for Channel 4. It aired over three series from 21 April 1995 until 1 May 1998, including ...
.'' ''
Guest House A guest house (also guesthouse) is a kind of lodging. In some parts of the world (such as the Caribbean), guest houses are a type of inexpensive hotel-like lodging. In others, it is a private home that has been converted for the exclusive use o ...
'' on Pakistan's PTV also resembled the series. Several of the characters have made other appearances, as spinoffs or in small cameo roles. In 1981, in character as Manuel, Andrew Sachs recorded his own version of the Joe Dolce cod-Italian song " Shaddap You Face" (with the B-side "Waiter, There's a Spanish Flea in My Soup") but the record was not released because Joe Dolce took out an injunction: he was about to issue his version in Britain. Sachs also portrayed a Manuel-like character in a series of British TV advertisements for life insurance. Gilly Flower and Renee Roberts, who played the elderly ladies Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby in the series, reprised their roles in a 1983 episode of '' Only Fools and Horses.'' In 2006, Cleese played Basil Fawlty for the first time in 27 years, for an unofficial England
2006 World Cup The 2006 FIFA World Cup, also branded as Germany 2006, was the 18th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which had won the right to host the ...
song, "
Don't Mention the World Cup "Don't Mention the World Cup", also titled "Don't Mention the War", is a 2006 song written by Dean Whitbread and Ashley Slater and performed by The First Eleven with John Cleese. Released to coincide with the 2006 FIFA World Cup, it was intended ...
", taking its name from the phrase, "Don't mention the war," which Basil used in the episode "
The Germans "The Germans" (named on some releases as "Fire Drill") is the sixth episode of the BBC sitcom '' Fawlty Towers''. In the episode, while suffering the effects of concussion, Basil Fawlty repeatedly offends some German guests. Despite warning ...
". In 2007, Cleese and Sachs reprised their roles for a six-episode corporate business video for the Norwegian oil company
Statoil Equinor ASA (formerly Statoil and StatoilHydro) is a Norwegian state-owned multinational energy company headquartered in Stavanger. It is primarily a petroleum company, operating in 36 countries with additional investments in renewable energy. ...
. In the video, Fawlty is running a restaurant called "Basil's Brasserie" while Manuel owns a Michelin-starred restaurant in London. In November 2007, Prunella Scales returned to the role of Sybil Fawlty in a series of sketches for the BBC's annual '' Children in Need'' charity telethon. The character was seen taking over the management of the eponymous hotel from the BBC drama series '' Hotel Babylon,'' interacting with characters from that programme as well as other 1970s sitcom characters. The character of Sybil was used by permission of John Cleese. In 2007, the Los Angeles Film School produced seven episodes of ''Fawlty Tower Oxnard'' starring Robert Romanus as Basil Fawlty. In 2016, Cleese reprised his role as Basil in a series of TV adverts for
High Street High Street is a common street name for the primary business street of a city, town, or village, especially in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. It implies that it is the focal point for business, especially shopping. It is also a metonym ...
optician An optician, or ''dispensing optician'', is a technical practitioner who designs, fits and dispenses lenses for the correction of a person's vision. Opticians determine the specifications of various ophthalmic appliances that will give the nec ...
chain
Specsavers Specsavers Optical Group Ltd is a British multinational optical retail chain, which operates mainly in the UK, Ireland, Australasia and the Nordic countries. The chain offers optometry and optician services for eyesight testing and sells glasse ...
. The same year, Cleese and Booth reunited to create and co-write the official theatrical adaptation of ''Fawlty Towers'', which premiered in Melbourne at the Comedy Theatre. It was critically well received, subsequently embarking on a successful tour of Australia. Cleese was intimately involved in the creation of the stage version from the beginning, including in the casting. He visited Australia to promote the adaptation, as well as oversee its success. Melbourne was chosen to premiere the adaptation due to ''Fawlty Towers' '' enduring popularity in Australia, and also because it has become a popular international test market for large-scale theatrical productions in recent years, having recently been the city where the revised '' Love Never Dies'' and the new ''
King Kong King Kong is a fictional giant monster resembling a gorilla, who has appeared in various media since 1933. He has been dubbed The Eighth Wonder of the World, a phrase commonly used within the franchise. His first appearance was in the novelizat ...
'' were also premiered. Cleese also noted he did not believe the London press would give the adaptation fair, unbiased reviews, so he deliberately chose to premiere it elsewhere.


''Fawlty Towers: Re-Opened''

In 2009, Tiger Aspect Productions produced a two-part documentary for the digital comedy channel
Gold Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79. This makes it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. It is a bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile meta ...
, called ''Fawlty Towers: Re-Opened.'' The documentary features interviews with all four main cast members, including Connie Booth, who had refused to talk about the series for 30 years. John Cleese confirmed at the 30-year reunion in May 2009 that they will never make another episode of the comedy because they are "too old and tired" and expectations would be too high. In a television interview (shown in Australia on Seven Network and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) on 7 May 2009, Cleese also commented that he and Booth took six weeks to write each episode.


Overseas

In 1977 and 1978 alone, the original TV show was sold to 45 stations in 17 countries and was the BBC's best-selling overseas programme for that year. ''Fawlty Towers'' became a huge success in almost all countries in which it aired. Although it initially was a flop in Spain, largely because of the portrayal of the Spanish waiter Manuel, it was successfully resold with the Manuel character's nationality changed to Italian except in Spain's Catalan region where Manuel was Mexican. To show how badly it translated, Clive James picked up a clip containing Manuel's "¿Qué?" phrase to show on '' Clive James on Television'' in 1982. The series also briefly was broadcast in Italy in the 1990s on the satellite channel Canal Jimmy, in the original English with Italian subtitles. In Australia, the show originally was broadcast on ABC Television, the first series in 1976 and the second series in 1980. The show then was sold to the Seven Network where it has been repeated numerous times.


Home media and merchandise


Audio releases

Four albums were released by BBC Records on vinyl LP and cassette. These consisted of the original television soundtracks with additional voice-over from Andrew Sachs (in character as Manuel) describing scenes which relied on visual humour. The first album, simply titled ''Fawlty Towers'', was released in 1979 and contained the audio from "Communication Problems" (as "Mrs Richards") and "Hotel Inspectors". The second album, titled ''Second Sitting'', was released in 1981 and contained audio from "Basil the Rat" (as "The Rat") and "The Builders". ''At Your Service'' was released in 1982, and contained the audio from "The Kipper and the Corpse" (as "Death") and "The Germans" (as "Fire Drill"). Finally, ''A La Carte'' was released in 1983, and contained the audio from "Waldorf Salad" (as "The Americans") and "Gourmet Night". The albums were re-released as double-cassette packs under the titles ''Fawlty Towers 1'' and ''Fawlty Towers 2'' in 1988. The remaining four episodes did not get an audio-only release until they were released on audio cassette as ''Fawlty Towers 3'' in 1994. The first CD release of the audio versions was in a box set in 2003, titled ''Fawlty Towers – The Collector's Edition'', which included spoken introductions to each episode by John Cleese, and an interview with Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs. The four vinyl records were re-released in a limited edition box set, along with the remaining four episodes on vinyl for the first time, for Record Store Day in 2021.


Home media

''Fawlty Towers'' was originally released by BBC Video in 1984, with three episodes on each of four tapes. Each tape was edited with the credits from all three episodes put at the end of the tape. A
LaserDisc The LaserDisc (LD) is a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium, initially licensed, sold and marketed as MCA DiscoVision (also known simply as "DiscoVision") in the United States in 1978. Its diameter typicall ...
containing all episodes spliced together as a continuous episode was released in the U.S. on 23 June 1993. It was re-released in 1994, unedited but digitally remastered. It also was re-released in 1998 with a special interview with John Cleese. ''Fawlty Towers – The Complete Series'' was released on DVD on 16 October 2001, available in regions 1, 2 and 4. A "Collector's Edition" is available in region 2. The original DVD release contained a slightly edited version of "The Kipper and the Corpse", in which Basil's line "Is it your legs?" (said to Mr Lehman when asking why he wants breakfast in bed) is missing. This line was restored in subsequent remastered releases of the DVDs. Series one of the show was released on UMD Video for PSP. In July 2009, BBC America announced a DVD re-release of the ''Fawlty Towers'' series. The DVD set was released on 20 October 2009. The reissue, titled ''Fawlty Towers Remastered: Special Edition,'' contains commentary by John Cleese on every episode as well as remastered video and audio. All episodes are available as streamed video-on-demand via
Britbox BritBox is an online digital video subscription service, founded by BBC Studios and ITV plc, operating in nine countries across North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
,
Netflix Netflix, Inc. is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service and production company based in Los Gatos, California. Founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California, it offers a fil ...
and
Amazon Prime Video Amazon Prime Video, also known simply as Prime Video, is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming and rental service of Amazon offered as a standalone service or as part of Amazon's Prime subscription. The service pri ...
. Additionally, both series are available for download on
iTunes iTunes () is a software program that acts as a media player, media library, mobile device management utility, and the client app for the iTunes Store. Developed by Apple Inc., it is used to purchase, play, download, and organize digital mu ...
. In 2021 all episodes were made available on the
BBC iPlayer BBC iPlayer (stylised as iPLAYER or BBC iPLAYER) is a video on demand service from the BBC. The service is available on a wide range of devices, including mobile phones and tablets, personal computers and smart televisions. iPlayer services del ...
.


Computer game

A ''Fawlty Towers'' game was released on PC in 2000 and featured a number of interactive games, desktop-customizing content and clips from the show.


Books

The original scripts of the series were released in a hardback book by Methuen, titled ''The Complete Fawlty Towers'', in 1988.


Notes


References


Further reading

* Apter, Michael J. (1982), first published online in 2004. "Fawlty Towers: A Reversal Theory Analysis of A Popular Television Comedy Series". ''The Journal of Popular Culture'' (Blackwell Publishing) 16 (3): 128–138. * Bright, Morris; Robert Ross (2001). ''Fawlty Towers: Fully Booked''. London: BBC Books. . * Cleese, John; Connie Booth (1988). ''The Complete Fawlty Towers''. London: Methuen. . * Dalla Costa, Dario (2004). ''The Complexities of Farce: With a Case Study on Fawlty Towers ''. Unpublished Master's thesis, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. Retrieved from http://research-repository.uwa.edu.au/files/3238761/Costa_Dario_Dalla_2004.pdf * Holm, Lars Holger (2004). ''Fawlty Towers: A Worshipper's Companion''. London: Leo Publishing. . *


External links

* * *
''Fawlty Towers''
at the
British Film Institute The British Film Institute (BFI) is a film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves film-making and television in the United Kingdom. The BFI uses funds provided by the National Lottery (United Kingdom), National Lot ...
*
''Fawlty Towers''
at the MBC's Encyclopedia of Television * *
Fawlty Towers Guest Characters
{{Authority control 1975 British television series debuts 1979 British television series endings 1970s British sitcoms 1970s British workplace comedy television series BAFTA winners (television series) BBC television sitcoms English-language television shows Fictional hotels Television series by BBC Studios Television series about marriage Television series set in hotels Television shows set in Devon Works by John Cleese