Mention the name of Fawlty Towers to anyone and they will instantly think of a hotel in Torquay, run by a man who would rather not have guests cluttering up the place, and a Spanish waiter whose vocabulary consists mainly of Que?! This is probably one of the most enduring television comedies of all time, and repeats always seem to bring it high in the ratings (far higher than most of the new comedies!). Written by John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth, it sprang from Cleese staying at a hotel and being treated in a similar fashion to how Basil treats his guests, with almost contempt. With his aspirations to granduer, his know it all manner, and a wife from his own worst nightmares, Basil Fawtly is a walking cliche, but there is much in him that is recognisible in a lot of people, if not quite so exaggerated, and certainly, then were many parallels made betwen the character and Cleese himself. Cleese, rightly so, has been trying to distance himself from Fawlty ever since, as this is not all he is capable of (and his film work only goes to prove this). There is no doubt though, that this is amongst Cleese's finest writing hours. There were, in fact, two series of the show, with a gap of 4 years in between them, and only 12 episodes in all (although talk to most people and they will be sure that there were loads of 'em!). All are available both on video and on audio, (and also if you are lucky enough to find them, the scripts have also been published) and the BBC have just re-released (6th Sept) the audio productions with extra, exclusive, John Cleese interviews! As the series was designed for television, there are many parts that are extremely visual (just think of the funny walk in the Germans), but the Radio Collection have got around this by adding extra narration by Manuel. What now follows is the details of each episode in the series and the details of how to find them in the shops...
Date Episode Title Audio Video 19-9-75 A Touch of Class 3 4000 26-9-75 TheBuilders 1 4001 3-10-75 The Wedding Party 3 4001 10-10-75 The Hotel Inspectors 1 4000 17-10-75 The Gourmet Night 2 4002 24-10-75 The Germans 2 4000 19-2-79 Communication Problems 1 4003 26-2-79 The Psychiatrist 3 4001 5-3-79 Waldorf Salad 2 4002 12-3-79 The Kipper and the Corpse 2 4002 26-3-79 The Anniversary 3 4003 25-10-79 Basil the Rat 1 4003
A Touch of ClassBasil's dream is to attract only the right class of clientele, and this comes true when Lord Melbury arrives. Basil bends over backwards to help Melbury, but looks, and certainly titles, can be deceiving.
The BuildersO'Reilly may be a cheap builder, but Basil finds out why, when he gets them to do the job instead of those arranged by Sybil. Can he sort out the mess before Sybil returns?
The Wedding PartyPrudish Basil is outraged at the apparent promiscuity going on in the hotel, but it is the guests that end up getting shocked when they find Basil and Manuel in a compromising position.
The Hotel InspectorsBasil is sent into a frenzy of excessive rudeness when news arrives that there are hotel inspectors in the seaside resort of Torquay, but when a guest arrives and Fawlty mistakening takes him to be an inspector, he falls over himself to be the ideal host.
The Gourmet NightGourmet night promises to be a treat for the cream of Torquay society, with expectations riding high. But the chef in is the spirit of the thing, or rather the spirits are in him, and Basil is left to sort out the main course. This is the episode where the car gets a 'damn good thrashing'!
The GermansSybil is in hospital with ingrown toenails, so Basil is left to run the hotel on his own, and is trying to get a few odd jobs done. A group of German tourists arrive, only to find that chaos had ensued in Sybils absence and a concussed Basil is running around not quite feeling himself. Remember, 'don't mention the war'!
Communication ProblemsMrs Richards is a deaf old battleaxe who wants more than a view of Torquay from the window in her room (hordes of wildebeste sweeping majestically across the plain perhaps?), who doesn't aid her cause when she leaves her hearing aid turned off so that she can conserve the batteries. But his not being heard by one party is not carried off around the hotel as Sybil can hear even the quietest whisper about a certain horse in a certain race.
The PsychiatristSybil's interest is piqued by a young yobbo staying at the hotel, while a visiting psychiatrist finds enough material for a conference when he encounters Basil Fawlty.
Waldorf SaladQuality service has never been one of Basil's strong points, and when an American guest demands a Waldorf Salad, one of the comforts of home, Basil nearly reaches boiling point.
The Kipper and the CorpseA guest dies in his bed, but this is only the beginning of Basil's problems. Breakfast for this unfortunate individual consisted of kippers which were a bit out of date and may have caused the problem. Not only does Basil have to hide the body, but more importantly, the kippers!
The AnniversaryBasil's plans for a surprise party go horribly wrong when Sybil thinks he has forgotten their 15th wedding anniversary and leaves. Basil is left to clear up the mess.
Basil the RatManuel has a new pet, a Siberian Hamster, or so he was told by the pet shop. In fact this 'hamster' has a decidely long tail, and is a rat. Basil becomes a whirling dervish of activity when he finds out and just when a public health inspector is on the loose.