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Fawlty Towers 40 Years A Classic



After his departure from Monty Python following the third series, John Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth raised the bar for situation comedies immeasurably with Fawlty Towers. It was inspired by a stay the Pythons had at a hotel in Torquay called the Gleneagles. Its proprietor was a small man named Mr. Sinclair and Michael Palin noted in his journal that he viewed his guests as a “colossal inconvenience.”

He eventually became so rude (even thinking Eric Idle’s briefcase had a bomb in it) that the troupe decided to move to another hotel without staying a single night. However, this didn’t stop Mr. Sinclair’s large, domineering wife from threatening to bill the group for a two-week stay.

The memory of Mr. Sinclair stuck with Cleese and he used him to create the monstrous Basil Fawlty, the hotelier who certainly does see his guests as an inconvenience. Well, unless they happen to be of a certain social status that will add a luster to the reputation of Fawlty Towers.

Sadly, only twelve episodes were made, but here’s the inside scoop on all of them.

Series 1, Episode 1: A Touch of Class. Wanting desperately to add a little class to his hotel, Basil is ecstatic when one of his guests turns out to be “Lord ” Melbury. What Basil doesn’t realize is this man is a confidence trickster and guess who’s the latest victim? The sign says: Fawlty Towers.

Episode 2,The Builders: Basil’s desire to save some money on repairs by hiring cheap labor comes back to haunt him when the job is botched and he has to face the wrath of Sybil. The sign says: Fawlty Towers, with the L hanging down.

Episode 3, The Wedding Party: A young couple in town for their wedding cause Basil no end of worry about their alleged pre-marital impropriety. Basil gets on his usual high horse but ends up losing face when caught in a compromising situation with Manuel. The sign says: Farty Tower.

Episode 4, Hotel Inspectors: A visit from hotel inspectors puts Fawlty Towers – especially Basil – into an uproar. Basil thinks he knows who the inspector is (and it’s a man he’d been rude to), but is he the actual inspector or just a very demanding customer? The sign says: Fawty Tower.

Episode 5, Gourmet Night: A new chef has Basil hopeful that he can attract a better clientele with a special gourmet night. As usual, though, things go horribly wrong when the chef gets a crush on Manuel and then hits the bottle. The sign says: Warty Towels.

Episode 6, The Germans: Basil is left with sole care of Fawlty Towers when Sybil goes in to have her ingrown toenail removed. He not only has to deal with a group of Germans, but he also has to hang the moose head that eventually knocks Basil out and leaves him with delusions about the war. The sign is not shown at the beginning of this episode.

Series 2, Episode 1: Communications Problems. Basil is trying yet again to keep something from Sybil, and this time it’s his betting on the horses. Polly even tries to help him out, but Basil makes a big mistake when he entrusts his winnings to the absent-minded Major. Sybil finds out, of course, and Basil has some major ‘splaining to do. The sign says: Fawlty Tower, with the L hanging down.

Episode 2, The Psychiatrist: Guests at Fawlty Towers this episode include a psychiatrist who finds Basil a very interesting case study and a debonair man Basil believes is smuggling women up to his room. The sign says: Watery Fowls.

Episode 3, Waldorf Salad: Basil is forced to deal with the stereotyped pushy American tourist who wants dinner after the chef has gone home. Money speaks, however, but Basil tries desperately to keep this fact from Sybil and find the ingredients for a Waldorf salad. The sign says: Flay Otters.

Episode 4, The Kipper and the Corpse: After a guest passes away in his sleep, Basil panics because he thinks it’s due to the kippers the guest was served at breakfast. Not wanting to alarm the other guests, he tries valiantly to hide the body until it can be taken away. The sign says: Fatty Owls.

Episode 5, The Anniversary: Things go terribly awry when Basil tries to plan a surprise anniversary party for Sybil. She, of course, thinks he forgotten. The sign says: Flowery Twats.

Episode 6, Basil the Rat: Manuel wants to keep his beloved pet mouse (or is it a Siberian hamster?), but Basil knows the health inspector who’s coming to visit will have a very different view of this. The sign says: Farty Towels.

regular cast
Basil Fawlty…John Cleese
Sybil Fawlty…Prunella Scales
Polly…Connie Booth
Manuel…Andrew Sachs
The Major…Ballard Berkeley
Miss Tibbs…Gilly Flower
Miss Gatsby…Renee Roberts



Hazell: Hazell and Hyde (ITV 7 June 1979, with Maev Alexander)




Hazell Nicholas Ball

In Hazell and Hyde James is asked to find a young woman, Claudine, who has apparently joined a group of squatters. When Hazell tracks down the group he is told that they had forced her to move on – her drug use was causing big problems. When a body turns up it looks like Hazell has found her, and an identification by her father seems to confirm it. However Choc Minty quickly arrives on the scene and makes it plain the dead girl is not the Claudine he is looking for but a woman who had apparently crossed Claudine in some way.

Claudine actually turns out to be something of a psychopath and having killed once has decided to make her next target our intrepid hero.

Meanwhile Jim has finally found himself somewhere else to live, his old flat having been reclaimed by the fellow he lent him the use of it.

It’s definitely something of a walk on the seedier side of life for Hazell. Maev Alexander, wjho plays the disturbed Claudine, is best known for her role as Christine Russell in the first couple of seasons of Sutherland’s Law.

production details
UK / ITV – Thames / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Thursday 7 June 1979

Writer: P.J. Hammond / Production Design: Robin Parker / Director: Baz Taylor

Series: Hazell Season 2 Episode 8

Nicholas Ball as Hazell
Maev Alexander as Claudine
Peter Bourke as Graham Morris
Myrtle Devenish as Old lady singer
Christopher Godwin as Claw-Hammer
Betty Hardy as Mrs. Gladys Hazell
Michael J. Jackson as Squatter
Norman Lumsden as Old man singer
Ronald Mayer as Pianist / Singer
Roddy McMillan as ‘Choc’ Minty
Desmond McNamara as Cousin Tel
Yvonne Nicholson as Squatter
Mark Penfold as Mortuary attendant
John Rapley as Mr. Clive
Katherine Stark as Annie

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Hazell: Hazell and the Suffolk Ghost (ITV 31 May 1979, with Meg Davies)




Hazell and the Suffolk Ghost

In Hazell and the Suffolk Ghost our intrepid hero pays a visit to the seaside when an accountant, Peter Harlow, calls him in over a cottage he has been left in a will. He has no idea why he has been left the cottage but since he has taken over ownership more than a few strange things have been happening.

Hazell stays at the cottage for a few days and manages to find no small amount of comfort when Harlow’s wife Stephanie turns up (Harlow himself is in New York). Although there is clearly something spooky going on it’s definitely man made and it doesn’t take Hazell too long to work it out.

The episode was a rare outing outside of London for the series, it was filmed in the East Anglian village of Walberswick and surrounds. Although all the interiors were filmed in studio of coure.

classic quote
I may be common but I’m not stupid

production details
UK / ITV – Thames / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Thursday 31 May 1979

Writer: Richard Harris / Production Design: Philip Blowers, Peter Elliot / Director: Mike Vardy

Series: Hazell Season 2 Episode 7

Nicholas Ball as Hazell
Michael Gaunt as Peter Harlow
John Woodnutt as Vicar
Desmond Llewellyn as Bell
Richard Simpson as Weaver
Meg Davies as Stephanie Harlow
Desmond McNamara as Tel
Peter Woodward as Gregory Summers
Joy Steward as Mrs Summers

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Hazell: Hazell Gets The Boot (ITV 10 May 1979, with Billy Murray)




Hazell Gets The Boot

In Hazell Gets The Boot Hazell finds himself more or less coerced into taking on a supposedly simple job for villain Dave Castle. His Bently has been stolen and he wants James to get it back for him. Hazell’s investigation leads him to a scrap yard where the car is being hidden. He gets more than he bargained for when two of the Connell gang ambush him and give him a thorough going over.

Meanwhile Hazell’s love life is also going through a troublesome patch. Patsy Flanagan is spending some time at his flat after having a dust up with her husband. Hazell is keen for the arrangement to be just a night or two of pleasure but Patsy is keen on a more permanent arrangement.

production details
UK / ITV – Thames / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Thursday 10 May 1979

Writer: Willis Hall / Director: Carol Wilks

Series: Hazell Season 2 Episode 4

James Hazell as Nicholas Ball
Billy Murray as Big Dave
Pauline Delaney as Sister
Peter Bourke as Graham Morris
Liz Crowther as Cynthia
Betty Hardy as Mrs Gladys Hazell
Cindy O’Callaghan as Patsy Flanagan

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