Fawlty Towers (BBC Sitcom, John Cleese, Prunella Scales)

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In this classic sitcom, manic proprietor Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) owner of Torquay hotel Fawlty Towers manages to cause chaos all about him as well as making the life of his Spanish bellboy, Manuel (Andrew Sachs), a misery.

Often sited as one of the pinnacles of British Sitcom the show really does contain some superb moments (Basil beating up on his car, the entire Germans episode to name but two of many). Cleese is supposed to have based Fawlty on a hotel owner he encountered whilst filming Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie or working on the script for an episode of Doctor Of Large depending on which legend you believe although the Doctor At Large is most likely as the episode in question does feature something of a proto Basil Fawlty.

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Each week the sign outside the Fawlty Towers hotel changed to a different funny name each week (Fatty Owls etc). In Spain when Fawlty Towers was first shown Manuel was changed into an Italian.

The final episode (“Basil The Rat”) was not shown until 7 months after the rest of the second season. Its original scheduled broadcast was delayed because of a BBC strike and the unmarked original tape then went missing and was only recovered by chance.

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A 100 minute celebration of the show aired on satellite/cable channel G.O.L.D. on 10 May 2009 featuring contributions from everyone involved on the show and celebrity fans.

Cast: JOHN CLEESE as Basil Fawlty; PRUNELLA SCALES as Sybil Fawlty; ANDREW SACHS as Manuel; CONNIE BOOTH as Polly Sherman; BALLARD BERKELY as Major Gowen; GILLY FLOWER as Miss Tibbs; RENEE ROBERTS as Miss Gatsby; BRIAN HALL as Terry (Season 2)

Writers: John Cleese, Connie Booth / Producer: John Howard Davies, Douglas Argent

UK / BBC Two / 12×30 minute episodes / 19 September – 24 October 1975 and 19 February – 25 October 1979

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.