Welcome to Fawlty Towers. Your host Basil, the sharp-tongued, short-tempered owner forever plagued by crisis, chaos & twisted characters is played by the finest comedic actor in TV history, Mr. John Cleese. Set in the Devon town of Torquay in the 'Engish Riviera", the series was written by Cleese and co-star Connie Booth who were actually married during this time.
Premiering on the BBC2 in 1975, only 12 episodes were ever made.
- British Film Institute calls it the #1 television program of all-time.
- Entertainment Weekly calls it the Sistine Chapel of sitcoms.
- Basil Fawlty was also named the funniest sitcom character ever.
12 EPISODES OF COMEDIC GENIUS!
A Touch of Class - hang the picture, make the menu and attract less riff-raff. Seemed like a simple enough day at the hotel. Lord Melbury asks for a loan while storing a brick in the safe. Chaos ensues. BEST LINE - "YOU BASTARD!"- Basil Fawlty
The Builders - Mr. O'Reilly or Mr. Stubbs? That is the question. This episode is Prunella Scales' best performance in the series. Her character Sybil smacks the shit out of Basil and then beats O'Reilly with an umbrella. The garden gnome march at the end is still completely hysterical. BEST LINE - "Oh I see it's my fault is it? Oh of course!" (followed by that classic self-spanking bit) "You're a naughty boy Fawlty!"
The Wedding Party - Manuel gets the night off for his birthday! Sybil's laugh, Polly's nipples and horny unmarrieds are on display here. Manuel's hangover in the dining room is a classic, but the real fun happens upstairs in this one. BEST LINE - "Oh, what a terrible dream"- Basil upon realizing he's mistaken Sybil for another woman.
The Hotel Inspectors - Everyone is a possible inspector as Basil must curb his temper...as if that was gonna happen. Uncorking the wine bottle, the ice bucket, and in the end two pies as props rule in this slapstick masterpiece. BEST LINE - "You wanna run the place? Then just shut up!" - Basil prior to attacking Mr. Cheese Salad in the dining room.
Gourmet Night - The new chef is drunk and in love with Manuel. Meanwhile Basil is trying to turn Lobster Night into Duck Surprise! The head-bashing dream test is one of Cleese's best bits in the series. BEST LINE - Customer talking about her fussy brat son: "Rather highly strung." Basil: "Yes, yes he should be!"
The Germans - Sybil's in the Hospital with an in-grown toe-nail operation and soon enough Basil joins her there with a concussion. He soon escapes though with the war & a moose on the brain. This racially charged episode will never be broadcast again but it also happens to be one of the funniest as well....at the expense of Women, Indians, Germans & African-Americans everywhere. The Hitler march out and then back into the dining room is pure Cleese genius. BEST LINE: "Wish it was an in-grown tongue." - Basil Fawlty
Communication Problems - This is the definitive classic! A+++ A PERFECT 10, etc. Mr. Fawlty gets a tip on a horse and wins...but not really. The "Dragonfly" game of charades is a knee slapper. Mrs. Richards - the hearing aid wearing guest from hell is the most memorable visitor to Torquay. BEST LINE: "I know nothing. I know nothing." - Manuel when Mr. Fawlty desperately needs an ally for his lies.
The Psychiatrist - Another Classic! This episode is amazing going in and out of doors upstairs as Basil tries to bust a young couple and all gets for his efforts are repeated brest gropes and smacks in the face. The scene out back with the ladder is hysterical too. BEST LINE "enough material for an entire psychiatry conference"- The shrink after meeting Basil.
Waldorf Salad - Americans are visiting from California and want dinner but the chef's gone home. He offers Basil 20 pounds to convince the chef to stay on so they can eat. What will Basil do? If you said, 'Send Terry home and pocket the 20 while trying to prepare the Waldorf Salad himself'. You'd be right. BEST LINE: "You ponce in here expecting to be waited on hand and foot, well I'm trying to run a hotel here". - Guess Who?
The Kipper and the Corpse - One of the guests has died and Basil and Manuel keep shuffling the body off all over the hotel. Clearly this episode was the template for Weekend at Bernie's & the creators of TV Show Cheers have openly credited Fawlty Towers as their inspiration for rapid insult timing. BEST LINE: "Oh Mr. Fawlty, I no wanna work here anymore." - Manuel
The Anniversary - It's the Fawlty's 15th Wedding Anniversary and Basil's lies are at it again. So now Sybil & Manuel become Syb-ill and Man-well. Polly becomes Sybil and her friends become annoying. The lone weak episode. BEST LINE: "Do I detect the smell of burning martyr?" - Basil
Basil the Rat - Manuel's pet hampster (READ: White Rat named 'Basil') is discovered and the health Inspector will be back in the morning. Veal with Rat Poison is the specialty of the day. BEST LINE: "Wanted: a kind home for an angry rodent"- Basil
A Closer Look
Fawlty Towers is not only for it's humor, but for the extraordinary writing that went into each episode. The scripts were usually twice as long as the average sitcom. They also twice as many shots in them as well.
Did you know that...Fawlty Towers was inpsired by a real hotel owner? It's true, the cast of Monty Python was staying in Torquay doing a film shoot and the cast who was staying there all left due to the rudeness of the manager. All but cast members John Cleese and wife Connie Booth. They stayed behind to observe this most inspiring character. Speaking of which..
Get the DVD for laughs or the Scripts for a Tutorial in writing.
Okay Fans! Here's your space!
Martyv25 on January 07, 2011:
Great hub and great TV show just caught the episode the other night where Basil beats his car up with the branch, great!
Fawlty Towers Episodes on January 28, 2010:
Definitely one of my all time favourite Tv Shows! I think Basil the rat and The Germans episodes are the best
DJ Funktual (author) from One Nation Under a Groove on May 14, 2009:
liss1979 from Bakersfield, CA (unfortunately) on May 13, 2009:
Hillarious show! I wish there were more shows like this on TV, replace all that reality crap
DJ Funktual (author) from One Nation Under a Groove on May 19, 2008:
Good Stuff. My next 2 TV Shows that will be profiled in a hub are both from the BBC as well. What will they be?
Eric Graudins from Australia on May 18, 2008:
DJ - brilliant stuff.
I'm showing the series to my 10 year old son - who now also loves Fawlty towers, the Goodies, Red Dwarf, Keeping Up Appearances, various Pythons, etc.
hglick from Ronkonkoma, NY on May 18, 2008:
John Cleese is funny as hell. Fawlty towers was definitely the funniest show from England. You never get tired of Basil hitting Manual in the back of the head and then getting dumped on at the end of each episode.
DJ Funktual (author) from One Nation Under a Groove on May 18, 2008:
Thanks you guys. This was a labor of love too.
rmr from Livonia, MI on May 18, 2008:
You simply cannot go wrong with John Cleese! I already have the complete Monty Python series, now I must add Fawlty Towers to my library. Thanks for reminding me.
Daniel Pyle on May 17, 2008:
One of the greatest of all time....for sure..Thanks for the hub.
I have forgotten how much I really loved the series.
In The Doghouse from California on May 17, 2008:
You have done such a wonderful job with this Hub, it makes me wish I had seen the show! lol I think "British Humor" is an aquired taste, it has just taken me longer to aquire it!
Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 17, 2008:
I agree... I love this show...
Basil the Rat is the funniest episode in my opinion.
Great hub :)