One morning when I arrived at work back in 1975, the office was buzzing with chatter about a new sitcom which had been on TV the previous evening - I'd not seen it, as I'd been out and hadn't known it was on. For me, TV sitcoms had taken a dive during the 1970s, as I was never into what most people now view as old classics such as Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and similar. My ears pricked up when I was told that this new sitcom was written by and starred John Cleese, so being as I'd always loved Monty Python's Flying Circus and missed it dreadfully, I vowed to watch the second in the 1975 series of Fawlty Towers, to see if all the appreciative fuss was justified.....and, it was very much more than justified.
Based on a real hotel (in I think it was Torbay as opposed to Torquay as some websites state...unless my memory is failing me, I have taken that information from my recall of an interview with John Cleese which I saw on TV many years ago when he revealed his inspiration for Fawlty Towers) that the Python crew had stayed at some years earlier. John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth put their heads together and wrote what in my opinion is the very best sitcom ever to have been shown on TV....Fawlty Towers.
Fawlty Towers is (fictitious of course) a hotel in Torquay, owned and run by Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese), ably assisted by his very irritating, but nonetheless mostly hard-working wife Sybil (played by Prunella Scales), waitress and general dogsbody Polly (played by Connie Booth) and hapless but very endearing Spanish waiter Manuel (played by Andrew Sachs).
Basil Fawlty is a rather obnoxious man, easily irritated, largely lazy and has absolutely no respect for the guests at his hotel unless they are deemed by him to be 'upper cut' types...and in those rare circumstances, he fawns over who he believes are the elite. Sybil is really the backbone of the hotel in that she is, contrary to Basil, actually polite to the guests, and often has to smooth oil over troubled waters that Basil has created with his rudeness and ineptitude. As a couple, Basil and Sybil are extremely ill-matched, and rarely cohere with one another at all. Basil sees his wife as an air-head tart, and Sybil sees Basil the same as everybody else does....a blot on the landscape of her life which could have been so much happier had she married someone else.
Polly is a struggling artist who works at Fawlty Towers due to never being able to sell any of her paintings. She and Basil have a dubious camaraderie (sometimes!) of sorts, yet they mostly have a fractious boss/employee relationship with one another, especially when Polly is called upon by Basil to help him out of the many difficult situations he finds himself in. Manuel is a Spanish waiter (hence the catchphrase "He's from Barcelona") whose English at times leaves a lot to be desired, and Basil employs him on the cheap. Manuel bumbles through job of waiting on tables in the hotel restaurant, and is the recipient of a good few slaps around the head when Basil decides to blame Manuel for pretty much everything, especially his own (Basil's) cock-ups. Despite being pretty useless at everything, Manuel is actually a very endearing character who you can't help loving.
In the second series of Fawlty Towers, we see a lot of chef Terry, played by Brian Hall....as far as I can remember, nobody plays the part of chef in the first series (apart from a one-off appearance of Andre in the episode entitled 'Gourmet Night'). Terry for the most part quietly gets on with his cooking duties, but occasionally is roped into helping Basil out of trouble.
There are three long stay guests at Fawlty Towers, the first being 'The Major' (played by Ballard Berkeley) - his full name in the programme is Major Gowen, but is always referred to as 'The Major' - who is an elderly ex-military man and somewhat senile. He's a nice old bloke but desperately confused, and Basil frequently takes advantage of The Major's confused state of mind in order to grease himself out of his self-created catastrophes. The other two long stay guests are Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby (played by Gilly Flower and Renee Roberts respectively). Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby are two elderly ladies who I assume are close friends, and are rarely seen in the programme without one another. These ladies, though very pleasant, are a little bonkers and sometimes a great source of irritation to Basil when they go all cutesy on him, usually whilst he's in the middle of a massive crisis.
After having made a point of watching the second programme in the first series of Fawlty Towers as recommended by my work colleagues (I saw the missed first one at a later date when the series was repeated), I found myself living almost just to tune into this hilarious comedy every week, having instantly become a firm fan. Like everybody else, I was disappointed when the series came to an end and was constantly on the lookout for an announcement that a second series was imminent, but we all had to wait another four years.
Only that two series, the first from 1975 and the second from 1979, were ever made of Fawlty Towers, and although in some ways it would have been wonderful if there were more, on the other side of the coin, you can have too much of a good thing, and to have made a third series - or even more - probably would have tarnished what for me is the most precious jewel of all in the whole historic realm of TV sitcoms, spanning six decades.
Although I love each and every one of the twelve Fawlty Towers programmes, I mostly prefer the 1979 second series as I feel they were more polished, and the stories were much more complex and interwoven - that doesn't mean to say I didn't love the first series though. It's very difficult for me to choose an overall favourite single Fawlty Towers episode, but if you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose or else, I'd probably say that my heart ultimately lies with the one entitled 'The Psychiatrist'. I just love the ridiculousness of it, the offshoots from the main story and the desperation of Basil as he tries to prove something to Sybil - she just refuses to listen to him! My least favourite, despite me still loving it, is probably 'The Anniversary', largely because I find it in parts perhaps a bit TOO ridiculous, but it still has some classic hysterical moments within.
The whole 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers for me have a sleek finesse, are hilariously funny in a silly, yet well thought out and intelligent fashion. I particularly love Basil's way of expressing his levels of extreme frustration, especially when situations turn around such that his plans get totally thwarted. I have a list of favourite lines from each of the 12 Fawlty Towers programmes, but I shall spare you them by not listing them in this review...what I will do though is below, just give a very brief rundown of the subject matter of each episode individually...don't worry....I shan't ramble :-)
1) A TOUCH OF CLASS
Things go badly wrong for Basil when he greases all over and cow-tows to Lord Melville who comes to stay at Fawlty Towers.
2) THE BUILDERS
Behind Sybil's back, Basil employs O'Reilly - a cheap and useless builder. Trouble brews when Sybil arrives home from her golfing trip and sees O'Reilly's van outside.
3) THE WEDDING PARTY
Basil really messes up when he suspects that members of a wedding party staying at the hotel are (including Polly) all having it off with one another. He also has problems fending off guest Mrs Pagnoit, a French lady who relentlessly flirts with him.
4) THE HOTEL INSPECTORS
After Sybil hears from one of her friends (and tells Basil) that there are some hotel inspectors in town, Basil trips the light fantastic in a hopeless and hapless effort to make sure that Fawlty Towers can be seen as a well-run hotel.
5) GOURMET NIGHT
Wanting to keep the 'riff-raff' out and thus arranging a special gourmet dinner night with a select few 'pillars of the community' guests, things go very wrong when chef elite Andre falls in love with Manuel, subsequently getting extremely drunk after Manuel refuses his advances.
6) THE GERMANS
Sybil is in hospital having an ingrowing toenail removed, and Basil is left to deal with a group of German guests who come to stay at the hotel - with what I can only describe as frightful results.
1) COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS
When very feisty and hard of hearing Mrs Richards comes to stay at Fawlty Towers, Basil's patience is put through the mangle when, after he's secretly (from Sybil) placed a bet on a winning horse, Mrs Richards reports a substantial sum of money missing from her room.
2) THE PSYCHIATRIST
Basil becomes very uncomfortable when he discovers that a psychiatrist is staying at the hotel. All sorts of communication mix-ups occur and misunderstandings run rife when Basil not only tries to evade what he erroneously sees as probing questions fired at him by the psychiatrist....he also hits many brick walls while trying to prove to Sybil that one of the guests had smuggled a woman into his room one night.
3) WALDORF SALAD
After chef Terry leaves Basil in the lurch by refusing to stay and cook dinner for an American and his wife who've just arrived at the hotel and want a hot meal, Basil gets into all sorts of difficulties when the American guest asks for a Waldorf Salad as a starter....which he (Basil) has never heard of before.
4) THE KIPPER AND THE CORPSE
When one of the guests dies in his sleep, Basil is convinced the death has been caused by the past-their-eat-by date kippers which the guest was served for breakfast.
5) THE ANNIVERSARY
Sybil storms out of the hotel when she believes Basil has forgotten their wedding anniversary yet again. He panics, as he has after all remembered, and has secretly arranged a get-together of their friends to mark the occasion. As the friends begin to arrive and Sybil has made herself scarce, Basil ropes long-suffering Polly into helping him....with disastrous results.
6) BASIL THE RAT
Basil almost has a coronary when he discovers that Manuel has been keeping a pet rat in his room, and this coincides with a public health official paying the hotel a visit to carry out a hygiene inspection.
Although of course I could be mistaken, I can't think that there is anybody who has never seen Fawlty Towers, even if just a little clip on somewhere like YouTube. I have only ever met one person in my life who is unimpressed by this collection of twelve programmes that as far as I'm concerned, invokes hysterical mirth via skilful writing, skilful acting and complex storylines/plots. This person is a friend of mine, and she says she can't understand how anybody could possibly find Fawlty Towers even in the remotest bit amusing...but I am certain she's by far in the minority. Still, we can't all like everything!
The humour contained within Fawlty Towers certainly isn't what I'd call 'Pythonesque' - it's not at all surreal, although it definitely is steeped in ridiculousness, and there is an element of slapstick thrown in too. The punchlines largely centre around and arise from huge mix-ups in communication, the wrong thing happening at the wrong time, and Basil's often outrageous way of expressing his dissatisfaction with the world, his life, and everything. I personally view Basil as being, deep down, quite a vulnerable person and he's certainly inadequate, but likes to believe that he's the opposite. His wife Sybil is far more together and sensible, although she does have her moments - she drives Basil to despair with her irritating catchphrase...."Oh, I know!" Despite being the backbone of what keeps Fawlty Towers just about running as a profit-making establishment and being forced by circumstance to clear up and make good of Basil's constant cock-ups, if she were a real, non-fictitious character, I'd class her as being one of the most irritating individuals it were possible to meet.
In summary, and in my opinion, Fawlty Towers stands proud as being the very best sitcom of all time and despite many, many viewings of the two series over the years, it can still make me laugh - a very unusual thing for me because in the normal way, if I've laughed at something the first time I've seen it, I don't laugh at it again on subsequent viewings...with Fawlty Towers, I do, and just that in itself makes it delectably unique.
If there should happen to be anybody out there who's yet to see what Fawlty Towers is all about, you can currently purchase DVDs from Amazon as follows:-
New: From £3.25 to £32.99 (!!!)
Used: From £2.21 to £19.99 (!!! Again!)
Collectible: Two copies available at £14.97 and £20.00
New: From £3.73 to £32.99 (!!!)
Used: From £3.77 to £19.99 (!!! Yet again!)
Collectible: Two copies available at £7.99 and £20.00
A delivery charge of £1.24 should be added to the above costs.
There are many clips taken from all episodes of both the 1975 and 1979 series of Fawlty Towers available on YouTube, and some of the programmes are there in full in three or so instalments, each lasting approximately 10 minutes. There are also a couple of very short clips of Fawlty Towers outtakes and bloopers, which in themselves are true gems and possibly even more hilarious than the whole programme itself.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Apart from Monty Python for which John Cleese will always be remembered as one of that crazy group, for me Fawlty Towers was the best thing that John Cleese appeared in over the years. There have many funny British sitcoms over the years but this one is definately one of my favourites and the worst thing was they only made 12 episodes in total as it was hilarious. It was first broadcast in 1975 and has been repeated many times since.
Fawlty Towers was a make believe hotel that was set in Torquay and the programme followed the daily trials and tribulations of the staff and guests. John Cleese was fantastic as the hotel manage Basil Fawlty. He is portrayed as eccentric and wildly over the top, plus completely miserable and felt everyone was against him. He was constantly being bossed about by his overbearing wife Sybil Fawlty played by Prunella Scales.
He would normally vent his anger brought about through frustration, on his Spanish waiter Manuel played by Andrew Sachs. He was a brilliant character too who would always be messing things up unintentionally and getting on Basil's nerves. He doesn't trust him to do anything and the famous phrase was coined - 'He's from Barcelona'.
In addition to the staff which provide alot of laughs there are regular guests who virtually live in the hotel like the slightly deranged Colonel. Then in various episodes there are other guests that pop up and stay at the hotel. The vast majority leave wondering how they came to stay at at such a badly run hotel.
John Cleese playing Basil Fawlty is by far and away the best character though and without him at the helm this programme would never have been as popular or the success it was. It is the way he can just snap at any moment and then go a bit crazy that is so funny.
If you've never seen this programme you have to watch it as it's good clean comedy at it's best and a great advert for British sitcoms. In my opinion this may never be bettered.
This programme was written about the bad service John Cleese received when staying in a hotel Torquay. Although most of the programmes were shot in a studio. The hotel is still in existance and operating as The Best Western Gleneagles hotel in Torquay. They run many a theme weekend on the back of the programme. The hotel was bought for a couple of million a few years back. The television programes were John Cleese on his best form as this strange hotel manager which he had experianced staying at this hotel. His wife featured in the programme as his wife. The best one was with the germans and it is interesting as alot of germans visit Torquay because of the Agatha Christie connection. Manuel was extreamly funny who played the useless spanish waiter. The actor who played Manuel has just appeared in coronation street and you would not of known this was Manuel. I still laugh at many of these eposides as it is classic and british comedy. It is worth watching
I recently wrote a review on Father Ted, calling it the greatest British sitcom ever made... HOW did I forget about the wonderful Fawlty Towers?!?!?
As I sit here writing this, The Germans episode is currently playing on G.O.L.D. - could I have happened to stumble upon a more appropriate episode to remind me of the show's greatness?
Written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, the story is about a hotellier named Basil Fawlty, and his long suffering wife Sybil, accompanied by the dithering waiter-come-manservant Manuel, who hails from Barcelona and speaks very poor english, and the intelligent Polly, who generally covers up for all of Basil's mistakes.
The genius behind the comedy, is Basil Fawlty's innate Englishness, and his self appointed upperclass standing, when he is anything but. The funniest jokes tend to arise out of Fawlty's immense frustration when things don't go his way, portrayed amazingly funnily by the legend that is John Cleese.
The writing is top notch - an example being from this German episode I am watching, where Fawlty has had a knock on the head and is suffering from concussion. Some germans are staying in the hotel, and he is determined 'not to mention the war!', except he can't do anything but. The germans get very annoyed at this, and an argument breaks out.
One of the germans asks Fawlty to stop mentioning the war - "You started it!" Basil exclaims. "No we didn't!!!" the german argues back.
"Yes you did!! You invaded Poland!!!"
Fawlty Towers has to be one of the best and most original sitcoms ever made from the comedy genius that is John Cleese also co written by Connie Booth who was his wife in real life during the first series and they later divorced which delayed the second series but none the less it was worth the wait. They only made two series and there were only 12 episodes in total. It may sound strange to say but I'm glad they stopped there as it would have been so easy to ruin the whole concept. It was made in the seventies and was about a couple who own a small private hotel in Torquay and their staff and guests. To start with I will take you through the main characters:
John Cleese- Basil Fawlty the main character and joint owner of the hotel. He is a complete snob and thinks very highly of himself. He is ruled over by his fierce wife who he is scared of. He is also one of the most prudish people around. To see him in action the hotel guests are just a nuisance unless they are upper class or attractive females.
Prunella Scales- Sybil Fawlty, she is Basils wife and very much wears the trousers in the operation. She bullies her poor husband and you get the impression that they married young and are still together for no other reason than to torture Basil. But I think deep down she really loves him. She has the world's most annoying laugh and I believe this was actually based on Connie Booth's real life laugh.
Andrew Sach's- Manuel, he is from Barcelona and can hardly speak a word of English but he is hired because he is cheap. You get the impression that even without the language barrier he's not the brightest. Basil takes out most of his anger and aggression on the poor Manuel. Basil bullies him just because he's there. A loveable character.
Connie Booth- Polly the waitress and general dog's body. She's young and pretty and seems to get caught in the middle of Basil and Sybil and more often than not she ends up covering for Basil.
There are also some other characters like the Major who stays in the hotel on a permanent basis and is completely senile there are also two old sisters and I cant remember their names but again they live in the hotel and are both fairly senile. Very funny characters.
I'll run through the different episodes and give a few points about each without giving to much away.
A Touch of Class: Lord Melbury is a guest at the hotel and as he's Lord Basil is all over him and every other guest goes right down the scale. Lord Melbury is not what he appears to be and a low life cockney comes to Basil's aid. Very funny when Basil's looking for revenge.
The Builders: Basil and Sybil disagree on what builders to use. Basil goes behind Sybil's back and hires O'reilly the Irish builder who's the skinniest man I've ever seen and has never finished a single job in his life. The work gets done when Sybil and Basil are away for the weekend. Polly and Manuel are left in charge and disaster strikes. The funniest bit is Sybil venting her full anger on Mr O'reilly with an umbrella.
The Wedding Party: Basil's sexually repressed nature really comes out in this one as he's totally convinced there is an outbreak of huge immorality in his hotel. You really see his nature in this one. Once again he makes a complete fool of himself.
The Hotel Inspectors: The hotel awaits a secret inspection from a professional group. Basil becomes the most paranoid man ever. Bernard Crivens is the man who is mistaken for the inspector and naturally Basil is all over him until he realises he mistake. Crivens is hilarious and could be the most annoying guest ever. Basil's revenge on him in the end is brilliant really funny and he even works with Manuel to deal with him. Naturally the inspectors do arrive.
Gourmet Night: Basil organizes a special night and invites only the best society has to offer. I think on the invites he actually puts the phrase "no riff raff". He hires a new chef who has a drink problem. When the new chef has an attraction to Manuel and Manuel spurns his advances the chef gets blind drunk. Basil is forced to order food from another restaurant and drive across town to pick it up. This goes unsurprisingly wrong and leads to the famous scene of Basil screaming and his red Mini because it's broken down then swearing at it and thrashing it with a branch. Sheer brilliance. Needless to say the guests are getting really impatient by this time. The rest of the staff tries to keep them amused.
The Germans: One of the funniest episodes. There are Germans staying at the hotel and Basil is a little obsessed about not mentioning the war in front of them so they don't cause offence. This is fine until Basil gets concussed and can't stop mentioning the war and he even goes as far to demonstrate how the Nazi's used to March, which is a bit of a throw back to the Monty Python days. Really funny.
Communication problems: A guest arrives called Mrs Richards who is an old deaf lady and one of the most awkward gusts to have ever been in a hotel. She has a hearing aid but never turns it on because it runs the battery down. The other story line that inter mingles with it is that Basil puts a bet on a horse and wins. This is against the rules with his wife and the two story lines twist together with the help of Polly and Manuel.
The Psychiatrist: Basil doesn't trust or like them and thinks that everything the psychiatrists talk to him about is to do with his sex life or to get into his head. I can't remember too much about this one. Sorry.
Waldorf salad: An arrogant American arrives late for dinner one night with his wife. Basil is too cheap to pay the chef to stay later than normal and tries to sort things himself. All the American wants is a Waldorf salad and Basil being Basil won't admit that he doesn't have a clue. Basil is really intimidated by the American and in a rather normal meltdown for Basil he explodes and criticises all the guests and tries to throw them all out. Sybil is particularly funny at the end which I won't spoil for you.
The kipper and the corpse: A hotel guest dies in his sleep through natural causes and the mayhem that follows is brilliant especially between Manuel and the doctor absolutely classic.
The Anniversary: This is my least favourite episode but it's not bad. It's the Fawlty's wedding anniversary and Basil pretends he's forgotten when really he has friends coming over. Sybil is so incensed by all of this that she storms out and Polly steps in to pretend she is Sybil in bed ill. Not the funniest but still worth a watch.
Basil the rat: Manuel has a pet rat that he lets out for a run around; the rat is named Basil after his beloved employer. Hardly surprising but it's the same day as the health inspector arrives its brilliant. The rat itself has to be one of the worst props ever conceived by the BBC especially when it turns up in the biscuit tin but this just makes it even funnier, don't ask me how.
That's the full two series and I have left a lot out so I don't spoil it to much. Some of the funniest things in the series are the comments Basil makes behind his wife's back and the guests for that matter like when he is commenting on what Sybil's packed for a weekend away he is running through a list and just as she goes out of earshot the last item he mentions is a knuckle duster. I know it doesn't sound much but the timing is brilliant. Sybil is asked at one point if a guest can cancel a pudding of fruit salad and her reply is "it's a little tricky as chef has just opened the tin" so good.
The show was actually based on a real hotel called the Torbay where all the guys from Monty Python were staying at while they were filming a film or show and Basil Fawlty is based on the manager called Donald Sinclair. It really is a classic British comedy and I think every household in Britain should own a complete set. Just don't mention the war!
Fawlty Towers is another great British comedy. First broadcast int he 1970's on the BBC. Even tho there was only 2 series made and only 12 episodes made (6 in each series) it is seen as one of the best. The show is set in the sea side town of Torquay, in a hotel called Fawlty Towers. The owners of the hotel Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) and his wife Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales), other characters include Polly Sherman (Connie Booth) she is the waitress but also does many other duties in the hotel, she usually gets dragged into ridiculous situatuions by Basil when he has messed up or made a mistake that he doesnt want Sybil to find out about, so Polly is in a way loyal to Basil and trys to fix basils mistakes without Sybil finding out. Manuel is a waiter, he is also Spanish and the main object of Basils frustration and anger, he is regularly physically assaulted by Basil and unfairly treated by him.
Back in 1970 John Cleese and the Monty Python crew booked a stay in a Torquay hotel named Gleneagles, expecting nothing more a few short uneventful days whilst they did some location filming. Instead they saw the manager assault a guest with a bus timetable, hide Eric Idle's suitcase because he thought it was a bomb, and accused American-born Terry Gilliam of not being 'British' because of his table manners. From that moment on, Basil Fawlty was born.
Fawlty Towers revolves around a dysfunctional Torquay hotel of the same name (although the sign is often amusingly rearranged by the local paperboy), infamous for its incompetent staff and the sharp but insulting wit of Basil Fawlty, everyone's favourite short-tempered hotelier. Aided, but more frequently hindered, by his overbearing wife, a smart but slightly put-upon waitress, and a Spanish waiter with a two-foot thick language barrier, we follow Basil through the trials and tribulations of hotel management, usually made all the more complicated by his snobbish attitude and a severe case of bad karma. Throughout the series we see the hotel in a variety of bizarre situations, the most memorable being the buildings near structural failure courtesy of O'Reily's builders, trying to conceal a particularly troublesome corpse, and tracking down Manuel's escaped 'Siberan pedigree hamster,' a.k.a Basil the rat, during a routine health inspection. It's a wonder hoteliers don't break down more often really.
Despite only being 12 episodes long Fawlty Towers remains one of the most iconic sitcoms in British TV history. Of course, with John Cleese on the team we expected nothing short of brilliance, and brilliance was exactly what we got. Cleese's patented brand of piercing wit made Basil Fawlty a truly unforgettable character, my favourite line being his explanation of Manuel's 'Siberian hamsters' real identity. Despite being with such a comedy heavyweight the rest of the cast rose to the occasional spectacularly. Prunella Scales was excellent as Basil's long suffering, yet razor tongued, wife Sybil, and Andrew Sach's immortal catchphrase 'que?' will always have a fond spot in my memory.
Part of Fawlty Tower's charm is the way they deal with not just the inner-workings of a hotel, but also the daily problems of modern life, all with blend of amazing incompetence and sheer bad luck. Although Basil Fawlty is a snotty, rude, bad tempered miser, you often can't help but feel sorry for him. Partly because he seems about two steps from a nervous breakdown, but mainly because some of the customers he has to deal with are genuinely infuriating. To me Fawlty Towers will always remain a comedy classic, and something I watch over and over again without ever becoming bored.
Fawlty Towers is the brain child of John Cleese who is in many peoples opinions a comic genius and this is maybe his finest hour. In Fawlty Towers Cleese came up with a hilarous show based on Basil Fawlty and wife Sybil who run there own hotel with the assistance of Manuel, Polly and chef Terry who work together and end up making everyones stay at Fawlty Towers an experience they will never forget. This show is from the 70's and so some of the fashions look dated but to me I think the show is so funny that things like that and a very cheap set (where the entire wall shakes with the slightest touch) don't detract from how hilarous this show actually is. Cleese and Manuel have the main slapstick comedy in the show and play it to perfection. If you have never seen this show then you have to see it and if you have then you will never tire of watching it.
There are lots of reviews on this site that give you the episode listings so I have only given you a nutshell summary and then an insight into why I love this programme.
This programme is based in the Torquay hotel owned by Basil Fawlty and his wife Sybil. They are helped by a spanish waiter and a waitress called Polly.
Is it still funny?
This programme was made in the seventies so some of the fashions are a little outdated and the monetary amounts can seem a bit low. However the comedy works as well now as it did back then.
Why is it funny?
This programme has a good element of slapstick running through and this never dates and it doesn't matter how old you are someone hitting a car that is not working is always going to be funny!! We can all relate to many of the situations that the series throws at us, which is not soemthing that can be said of all 70's sitcoms, whether is is something not working, not wanting to admit something, or generally annoying people.
My children love this programme and laugh out loud at it - there are a couple of bits they find odd but last year when they went to Torquay for the week all I heard about the trip was "we saw fawlty towers - but its all burnt down now!"
if a comedy can last this long then it must be good.
Fawlty Towers is a truely cassical British Comedy, full of comic moments and entertainment. John Cleese plays a hotel manager Basil Fawlty, who owns a hotel in Torquay with Prunella Scales as his wife Sybil. Other characters which made the show a huge success include workers, Paulie, a young waitress who enjoys winding up Basil, and Manuel, a barely English speaking man from Barcelona, who causes immense stress to Basil, providing fantastic hilarity to viewers.
Only two series of six episodes were created in 1975 to 1979, which is a great shame, as it leaves you begging for more, and the show does not seem complete.
The 12 episodes that were made are very entertaining, watching Basil attempt to run his chaotic hotel almost single handedly, dealing with irritable guests, his wives constant nagging, and the sheer incompetence of Manuel. Basil leaves most guests calling his hotel one of the worst they have ever stayed in, which further raises his already firey moods into burst of anger and despair.
There are only two comedy shows that can actually have me literally crying with laughter. One is Only Fools and Horses and the other is Faulty Towers. The videos I have for both shows are extremely worn, due to excess usage. My wife can't understand how I can watch the same program 50 times and still laugh so loudly. Simple both shows have fantastic actors/actresses and superb script writers. As this review is on Faulty Towers I'll focus directly on that.
Faulty Towers first came on the BBC when I was five years old in 1975. The second series was later in 1979. It was the latter series that I first started watching. I guess the first series I must have watched as a repeat. I mean it was on the bbc:-) It is hard to believe that the show itself only had 2 series - each with only 6 episodes. The episodes lasted for about 30 minutes each - so we are talking about 6 hours of pure laughter!!
The Fawlty Towers hotel was situated in Torquay. Very few people actually are aware that two of the main characters John Cleese and Connie Booth wrote the script. At that time they had a lot less to worry about in relation to political correctness and they certainly used their artistic license to create some fantastic one liners and clips. The German Episode springs to mind when I say this. Although I find it hilarious I wonder if it would be written in a script today - I think not! The other main actors are Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs. I used to think that Connie Booth (who played Polly) was really sexy. I guess she must be getting on now - I mean I'm no spring chicken myself anymore.
Although the series is set in Torquay most of the filming was done in a country club in Buckinghamshire. It was later to be a nighclub called Basils until it was burnt down.
So what made it so special. Well in my mind it was certainly the way that the two main characters bounced off each other. Basil Fawlty being the main man (or so he would like to think) against his wife Sybil Fawlty who took any opportunity to humiliate him. The hotel was run like a complete shambles. The more they tried to make it into a high class hotel, the worse things happened.
At the beginning of each show you would see the sign Fawlty Towers fall down and show two new completey different words - out of the same letters. Some of the words were quite raw and wouldn't pass to go on the bbc today.
If anybody hasn't ever seen these programmes please please buy the disc or watch UK Gold. You really will find yourself laughing so much.
Fawlty Towers is an iconic British Television situation comedy first aired in 1975.
In a British Film Institute poll of 2000 it was voted the best television programme in British Television History.
It stars John Cleese (of Monty Python Fame), Prunella Scales (married To Actor Timothy West), Connie Booth (who co wrote it with John Cleese and used to be married to him) and Andrew Sachs (who Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross apologise to, to the max.)
The series ran for just 12 episodes but most people are under the impression that it was far more. This is probably because each episode was so great with so much gripping comedy content and has been repeated literally thousands of times over the years. The episodes also have a very diverse set of plots.
The central theme running through all of the episodes is that bungling Torquay, England hotel proprietor Basil Fawlty runs a shambles of a hotel whilst at the same time looking down his nose at poor, common or working class people but fawning all over well to do or well spoken guests.
He is always messing things up or dealing with natural disasters in a hap hazard stupid way and has to try to hide all of his mishaps from his wife Sybil, played by Prunella scales. He also leches over any pretty women guests which also gets him into a pickle.
There is also the hapless and unfortunate waiter, Manuel (from Barcelona) who is usually blamed for everything by Fawlty and poked in the eye and slapped by him into the bargain.
Polly (played by Connie Booth) a waitress, tends to at least help Basil keep the truth from Sybil and smooth things over.
There are some other regular characters with cameo roles such as Terry the chef and The Major who is a permanent guest at the hotel.
The Basil Fawlty character is now itself iconic in television history as to a lesser degree are the characters of Sybil Fawlty and Manuel.
Much of the programme is shot inside the hotel but there are some occasional scenes just outside the hotel or in the nearby town/village.
Each episode is absolutely hilarious and a brilliant piece of iconic television sitcom genius in its own right.
This review is also posted on www.ciao.co.uk
under my user name bella6789
107 reviews to date shows the sheer popularity of this classic British sitcom.
A Little History...
Fawlty Towers aired on BBC2 in 1975 and had only 12 episodes ever made, spread over two series. In this short time the show managed to get such a following that in 2000 it was placed at number 1 of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes (as voted by industry professionals). - source Wikipedia
What Is 'Fawlty Towers'
The setting is the hotel of Fawlty Towers, set in Torquay (Devon) run by Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) and his wife Sybil (Prunella Scales) with hotel workers Manuel (Andrew Sachs) and Polly (Connie Booth) helping to keep the place running smoothly.
Basil - totally over the top Basil is first to blame Manuel for just about anything that goes wrong whilst trying to avoid 'the dragon' he calls his wife
Sybil - desperately trying to put up with Basil and his inconsideration for things
Polly - the maid who often ends up helping Basil to fix the mistakes he made
Manuel - "he's from Barcelona" - a spaniard who's come to work in England and learns his English from a book. Without a total grasp on the language he is often used as a scape goat by Basil.
Every episode of this is a classic with the comedy being primarily driven by Basils short fuse and complete cock-ups whilst they all try to keep the appearance of a smoothly ran hotel.
The most outstanding episode and one always featured on classic comedy moment shows is that of "The Germans" whereby Basil, after a strike to the head, tries to talk to a group of German people who are staying at the hotel without mentioning the war. In his unstable condition he looses control and ends up with his index finger across his top lip (imitating Adolf Hitler) and marching shouting German doing what he calls "the walk".
In a nutshell the show is off the wall, laugh out loud, classic British comedy at its best.
British comedies really don't get much better than this. In fact, comedy as a whole doesn't get better than this. Many would accuse the series of being wholly over-rated but I would disagree. 12 episodes were made, and each one was a comic gem. The scripting, the acting and the characters all entwined to produce one of the finest comedy series ever.
Cleese, naturally is reponsible for the masterpiece and should take full credit. His character is so instantly recognisable, so instantly British, that you can't help but laugh at the mere presence of him. You feel for his enduring wife Sybill and guffaw at the slapstick of Manuel.
The humour is distinctive in perhaps a similar way to The Office. In other words, the Americans wouldnt get it. The appeal of Fawlty Towers is seen by many as the not-so obvious class struggle going on, representative of Britain at the time. I would tend to agree with this.
I have always been a big fan of old comedies like the young ones and some mothers do have them etc.... I was given the box set of "Faulty towers" a few years back and found it excellent. I was quite surprised that I like it really as I never liked the Monty Python films and as this also starred John Cleese I thought it may be rather similar but this surprised me and I love it.
Faulty towers was written by John Cleese and his wife at the time Connie Booth in 1975. These both were main characters in the TV show and were married at the time. John Cleese came up with the idea of Faulty Towers after visiting a hotel while on holiday in Torquay and becoming fascinated with the owner. There were only 12 episodes of Faulty towers which seems very strange to me as there always seems to be more. Recently in a pole for the 100 best comedies of all time Faulty towers came in at first place which I though was well deserved as it is a complete classic.
The programme is about a man and wife called Basil ( John Cleese) and Sybil ( Prunella Scales) who run a hotel called (obviously) Faulty Towers. There maid is called Polly (Connie Booth) and Manuel(Andrew Sachs) the waiter.
The characters in Faulty towers are great. Basil is the over the top owner who can't help but get himself into tight spots. He is ruled by his wife who will always get her own way in the end. Basil is forever planning things behind his wife's back. Basil usually turns to Manuel or Polly to help him with whatever scheme he has planned, while trying his best to prevent Sybil from finding out. This seems pointless as she does always find out what her husband is up to. Basil is rather bossy to Manuel. He pronounces his name as "Man-well" Manuel comes from Spain and has a very poor English vocabulary which gets him in all sorts of trouble as he can't understand what is being asked of him, which usually results in the accessional slap on the head from Basil. Polly is a lovely maid who is also an artist. She is forever getting Basil out of trouble and is always on hand when something goes wrong and needs sorting out.
The hotel has many visitors who usually leave very disappointed at the service they have received. There are regulars that are always in the hotel like major and the two elderly ladies. Basil cant help himself when it comes to upsetting his guests. Im one episode he insults a lady resident called "Mrs small and says " haha You are rather short aren't you"
I really like Faulty Towers not one episode has left me disappointed and I will always watch it. Its great for all the family and is suitable for children. I would recommend Faulty towers to anyone.