Fawlty Towers, 1975
A timeless classic that remains funny no matter how many times you watch it. Broadcast on BBC 2 over two series of six episodes each, the first in 1975 and the second in 1979, Fawlty Towers has become a British Comedy Institution.
During a visit to Torquay, during his time with the Pythons, they stayed at the ‘Gleneagles’ Hotel.
It was here John Cleese observed the customer service skills of the hotel manager. It was his eratic behaviour that inspired Cleese to create his immortal Basil Fawlty Character.
The first series (1975) was produced and directed by John Howard Davies, the second four years later was produced by Douglas Argent and directed by Bob Spiers.
The series focuses on the exploits and misadventures of the short-fused Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil, Spanish waiter Manuel, maid Polly. In the second series chef Terry also becomes part of the comings and goings.
The episodes typically revolve around Basil’s efforts to succeed in ‘raising the tone’ of his hotel which usually fail with hilarious consequences.
Much of the humour comes from Basil’s overly aggressive manner, engaging in angry but witty arguments with guests, staff and in particular his formidable wife Sybil. Despite his many little pet names for her (such as “my little nest of vipers” or “my little piranha fish”) Sybil usually manages to avert complete disaster by stopping Basil in his tracks with a cry of “BASIL !” Despite his best intentions and willing assistance from Polly, Basil usually ends up coming off worse.
Basil Fawlty – John Cleese
Sybil Fawlty – Prunella Scales
Manuel – Andrew Sachs
Polly – Connie Booth
Channel: BBC 2
Written By: John Cleese and Connie Booth
Original Transmission Dates:
Series 1 – 19th September 1975 – 24th October 1975
Series 2 – 19th February 1979 – 25th October 1979
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION !
Although the series is set in Torquay in Devon, none of it was shot in South West England. For the exterior filming, the Wooburn Grange Country Club was used as the hotel and that was situated in Buckinghamshire. This was later used as a nightclub named “Basil’s” for a short time after the series ended, before being destroyed by a fire in March 1991. The remnants of the building were demolished and the site was bought by developers.
Other location filming was done mostly around Harrow, Middlesex. In the episode “The Germans”, the opening shot was of Northwick Park Hospital. In the episode “Gourmet Night”, the exterior of Andre’s restaurant was filmed on Preston Road in the Harrow area. The launderette next door to the restaurant still exists today and Andre’s is now a Chinese restaurant called “Wings”.