The BBC calls it the British sitcom by which all other British sitcoms must be judged. First broadcast in 1975 and 1979, Fawlty Towers can easily give any modern era ensemble comedy a riotously funny run for its money.
With inspiration taken from an actual encounter with an extremely rude hotelier while on the road with the Monty Python crew, the inimitable John Cleese brought the uppity, awkward situation-prone Basil Fawlty to legendary life for a mere twelve, hilarious episodes and we’re running them all back-to-back. Basil is a much put-upon, hard-working hotel manager whose life is plagued by dead guests, hotel inspectors and riff-raff. Of course his biggest headache is his ‘little nest of vipers’ – his nagging wife Sibyl. Together they run their hotel, Fawlty Towers, with a little help from the unflappable Polly, and Manuel, the trainee waiter from Barcelona with marginally more intelligence than a monkey.
Everyone loves Fawlty Towers – except the poor, abused guests. Since that memorable evening in the mid 1970s when the hotel opened its doors to the public, it has become cult viewing in 61 countries worldwide. And despite being screened again and again, the programmes haven’t lost their appeal – Basil and Sybil’s insults to each other, Manuel’s plaintive “Que?”, and “Don’t mention the war” from The Germans have been absorbed into everyday speech.
Fawlty Towers co-star, Connie Booth (Polly), also Cleese’s wife at the time, co-wrote this classic comedy gem, which came in at number one on the British Film Institute’s 2000 list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of all time. The series has been honoured with three BAFTA Awards, countless glowing reviews and Best Comedy on DVD from the Quality Street Awards.
John Cleese – Basil Fawlty
Prunella Scales – Sybil Fawlty
Connie Booth – Polly
Andrew Sachs – Manuel
Ballard Berkeley – Major Gowen
Brian Hall – Terry
Gilly Flower – Miss Tibbs
Renee Roberts – Miss Gatsby
Fawlty Towers Series 1: Ensemble
Fawlty Towers Series 1: Polly (Connie Booth), Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 6: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 6: Basil (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 5: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 5: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 2: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 1: (l to r) Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Manuel (Andrew Sachs)
Fawlty Towers Series 1, Ep. 1: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1: (clockwise l to r) Manuel (Andrew Sachs), Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), Polly (Connie Booth), Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales)
Fawlty Towers Series 1: Polly (Connie Booth)
Fawlty Towers Series 1: Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales)
Fawlty Towers Series 1: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)
Fawlty Towers Series 1: Manuel (Andrew Sachs)
Fawlty Towers - Series 1: (l to r) Andrew Sachs (Manuel), John Cleese (Basil Fawlty), Connie Booth (Polly), Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty)
SERIES 1 EPISODES
#1-1: A Touch of Class
Wednesday, Apr. 9 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Basil Fawlty is delighted when Lord Melbury checks into his hotel. At last a guest with class, and much better than the rough diamond Sybil is fawning over. He pays for his snobbery when Melbury asks him to cash a cheque. Guest stars Michael Gwynn as Melbury and Robin (Poldark) Ellis as Danny Brown.
#1-2: The Builders
Wednesday, Apr. 16 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Sybil has picked a professional firm to make structural alterations to the hotel. But Basil prefers O’Reilly, the cowboy outfit who can do it on the cheap…Guest stars David Kelly as O’Reilly and James Appleby as Stubbs.
#1-3: The Wedding
Wednesday, Apr. 23 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Basil is outraged by an outbreak of promiscuity at his hotel and engages in a losing battle to stop unmarried couples sleeping together. His efforts are hampered by the fact that they are Polly’s friends – and by Manuel’s birthday celebrations. Guest stars Yvonne Gilan as Mrs Peignoir, Conrad Phillips and Diana King as Mr and Mrs Lloyd,Trevor Adams as Alan and April Walker as Jean.
#1-4: Hotel Inspectors
Wednesday, Apr. 30 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Basil is terrified by the news that hotel inspectors are in the area. The awful probability occurs to him that the eccentric guest to whom he has been so appallingly offensive may be one of them. His ranting turns to pathetic fawning, but has he got the right man? Guest star Bernard Cribbins as Mr. Hutchinson.
#1-5: Gourmet Night
Wednesday, May 7 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
It is Gourmet Night at Fawlty Towers, some prestigious guests are booked in at the restaurant, and it seems that Basil’s long-cherished dream of running a high-class establishment will be realised. But the chef lies drunk on the floor. Guest stars André Maranne (André), Steve Plytas (Kurt), Allan Cuthbertson and Ann Way (Colonel & Mrs Hall), Richard Caldicot and Betty Huntley-Wright (Mr & Mrs Twitchen), Jeffrey Segal and Elizabeth Benson (Mr & Mrs Heath)
#1-6: The Germans
Wednesday, May 14 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Sybil is in hospital for an ingrowing toenail, but is still nagging Basil by telephone. During a chaotic fire drill, the moose’s head knocks him out, giving him concussion. But he escapes from hospital to deal tactfully with a group of German tourists. Guest stars Brenda Cowling as the ‘ugly’ Sister, and Willy Bowman, Nick Kane, Lisa Bergmayr and Dan Gillan as the Germans.
SERIES 2 EPISODES
#2-1: Communications Problems
Wednesday, May 21 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
A nearly deaf and very difficult Mrs Richards arrives at the hotel.When she loses a large sum of money, she demands that the police be called. Basil, meanwhile, is doing his best to hide his gambling winnings from a disapproving Sybil. Guest star Joan Sanderson as Mrs Richards.
#2-2: The Psychiatrist
Wednesday,May 28 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Basil is certain one of the guests has smuggled a girl into his room and sets out to investigate. Instead, he is caught by Sybil in a compromising situation with a pretty Australian girl.“There’s enough material here for an entire conference,” says the psychiatrist, observing the hotel manager’s antics. Guest stars Nicky Henson as Mr. Johnson, Luan Peters as Raylene Miles, Basil Henson and Elspeth Gray as Dr & Mrs Abbott.
#2-3: Waldorf Salad
Wednesday, June 4 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
An American guest pays Basil to keep the kitchen open late, but the chef has left for the day. Basil steps in, but he meets his Waterloo when the guest requests a Waldorf Salad. Guest stars Bruce Boa and Claire Nielson as Mr & Mrs Hamilton.
#2-4: The Kipper and The Corpse
Wednesday, June 11 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
Chaos reigns as one of the guests – with total disregard for Basil’s blood pressure – is found dead in bed. Doubtless the kippers (which should have been thrown out weeks ago) were responsible. Basil attempts to conceal the body, but reckons without Miss Tibbs. Guest stars Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) as Dr Price.
Wednesday, June 18 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
After an ear-bashing last year, Basil has actually remembered their wedding anniversary. Sybil has no idea he has planned a surprise party and invited all their friends. She thinks he has forgotten again, and storms off to play golf. When the guests arrive, Polly has to impersonate Sybil, who according to Basil is ill in bed. Guest stars Ken Campbell as Roger, Una Stubbs as Alice, Robert Arnold as Arthur, Pat Keen as Virginia, Roger Hume as Reg, Denyse Alexander as Kitty, Christine Shaw as Audrey.
Wednesday, June 25 at 8:30pm ET/5:30 PT
In this episode the Health Inspector visits; Manuel’s pet rat “Basil” runs loose and there is confusion over some poisoned veal.