The show premiered on this day in 1975 (September 19) – but Fawlty Towers is still just as funny as it ever was.
It starred John Cleese, who played the role of Basil Fawlty, a hotel owner who is always angry. Although it lasted only 12 episodes, it became a classic.
It created iconic scenes and lines that are still being performed in pubs across the country.
Creators John Cleese and Connie Booth decided to quit while they were ahead, producing just 12 episodes – but each one is still comedy gold.
We go to Torquay Hotel to see where the residents and staff are.
John Cleese (Basil Fawlty)
Every episode saw Cleese’s rude hotel owner Basil explode in a fit of rage, whether it was directed at bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel, giving his car a “damn good thrashing” or goose-stepping around the room.
After leaving the English Riviera, Cleese focused on films during the 1980s and 90s, starring in Clockwise, A Fish Called Wanda and its sequel, Fierce Creatures, plus two Bond films as Q’s assistant and Q.
In 2016, he revived Basil and his car thrashing for a Specsavers advert, with some speculating it was to help recover from an expensive divorce.
Four-times married Cleese, 81, was ordered to pay third wife Alyce Eichelberger £12million, including £600,000 a year for seven years.
The father of two, who starred in Hold The Sunset on BBC, now lives with Jennifer on Nevis, the Caribbean island. He emigrated from Britain after becoming disillusioned by British politics.
John will be fronting Cancel Me, a new documentary about cancelculture.
According to its press release, it will explore “why a new ‘woke’ generation is trying to rewrite the rules on what can and can’t be said”.
Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty)
Sarcastic Sybil was always on hand with a putdown and far more capable of handling the hotel than husband Basil.
Scales went on to star in a string of films, including The Boys From Brazil and Howard’s End, but she might be best remembered for the Tesco adverts she did as Dotty, alongside Jane Horrocks as her long-suffering daughter.
She is married to actor Timothy West and the pair have two sons. Sam West, the actor who is the oldest, was recently seen in the remake of All Creatures Great and Small.
Scales, now aged 88, and her husband, filmed Great Canal Journeys together for Channel 4 from 2014 through 2019.
When the show started they revealed she had Alzheimer’s and last year West, 86, told how the condition had forced them to quit the much-loved travelogue.
Andrew Sachs (Manuel)
Sachs’ hapless waiter often took the brunt of Basil’s bashings.
But did you know he recorded three singles in character, including Manuel’s Good Food Guide in 1977?
Sachs was injured in a retrial and suffered second-degree burns.
He hung up his apron and did voiceovers, radio work, as well as television, including a short stint on Coronation Street.
In 2008, Sachs was in the headlines after Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross prank-called him, leaving messages about Brand having sex with his grand-daughter Georgina Baillie.
The scandal caused a lot of controversy and the BBC apologized. Ross was suspended and Brand resigned.
Sachs was diagnosed in 2012 with vascular dementia. He is now unable to talk and in a wheelchair. In 2016, Sachs died. Melody, his widow, also died the same year. The couple had three children.
Connie Booth (Polly Sherman)
Booth co-wrote Fawlty Towers with her then-husband Cleese and starred in the show as sensible chambermaid Polly.
Booth and Cleese were together in the 1960s. In 1968, they married and had their daughter Cynthia. They were still close friends and divorced when the second series began filming of Fawlty Towers.
Booth starred in The Tomorrow People and The Buccaneers, but she quit acting in 1995.
Booth then became a psychotherapist, changing her career. She now lives in London with John Lahr her author husband.
Ballard Berkeley (Major Gowen)
The slightly senile major was a permanent resident at the hotel.
But the character’s racist and bigoted views have been censored, with his most offensive lines cut out of repeats.
Berkeley was a regular on several TV shows, including Hi-de-Hi! He was also a voice actor in To The Manor Born and Hi-de-Hi!
Bernard Cribbins (Mr Hutchinson)
Cribbins played a spoons salesman whom Basil became convinced was a hotel inspector.
Now 92, the actor’s career has spanned more than 70 years.
Highlights include The Wombles as the narrator, three Carry On films as a star and appearances with Catherine Tate and David Tennant on Doctor Who.
Cribbins is married to Gillian, an OBE.
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