Fawlty Towers Poster

Fawlty Towers (1975)

Comedy  
Rayting:   8.7/10 88K votes
Country: UK
Language: English

Hotel owner Basil Fawlty's incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance form a combination that ensures accidents and trouble are never far away.

Episode Guide

Best Fawlty Towers Episodes

Top 20 (Ranked)

October 24, 1975star9.4 2463 votesS1E6 The Germans
February 19, 1979star9.3 1983 votesS2E1 Communication Problems
February 26, 1979star9.2 1896 votesS2E2 The Psychiatrist
March 12, 1979star9.2 1792 votesS2E4 The Kipper and the Corpse
October 17, 1975star8.9 1841 votesS1E5 Gourmet Night
October 25, 1979star8.8 1790 votesS2E6 Basil the Rat
September 19, 1975star8.7 2196 votesS1E1 A Touch of Class
October 10, 1975star8.7 1901 votesS1E4 The Hotel Inspectors
March 26, 1979star8.6 1627 votesS2E5 The Anniversary
September 26, 1975star8.4 2018 votesS1E2 The Builders
October 3, 1975star8.3 1889 votesS1E3 The Wedding Party
March 5, 1979star8.3 1774 votesS2E3 Waldorf Salad

Fawlty Towers Trailer

User Reviews

BroadswordCallinDannyBoy 9 December 2005

This is probably one of the best situational comedies ever made and in my opinion few other television programs compare to it. It is hard to say what is so good about this little show as the main character is a rude prick, the story lines are rather simplistic, and the characters pretty much cardboard cut outs of class stereotypes (this is a British show after all), but each episode is a nearly perfect choreographed dance of escalating frustration with an impeccable touch of absurdity.

From brick walls appearing in doorways to mishaps during fire drills, from guests dying overnight to getting the right food for a gourmet, from class issues to just plain old mayhem this show has got it all. It is all in a meager 12 episodes, but that is what makes each episode absolutely priceless with hardly a dull moment. A classic in every sense of the word. 10/10

Not rated, suitable for everyone.

jdmu7 7 July 2006

This is pure comedy. It is genius. It is hilarity that transcends the boundary of comedy. Fawlty Towers is the kind of comedy that has you on the floor gasping for air in a puddle of your own tears. John Cleese has created one of the defining characters of comedy in Basil Fawlty. Manuel Sachs is superb as Manuel, the confused waiter from Barcelona. Prunella Scales is brilliant as the tyrannical wife. Connie Booth is very good as Polly, the hassled waitress. Put it all together inside a small hotel in Torquay and you get one of the greatest, most alluring comedies ever to grace the screen. The only bad thing about Fawlty Towers is that they didn't make more.

Fawlty Towers will always be tearfully, heart stoppingly, deadly, and disasterously funny.

kurt_messick 12 December 2005

Come visit the worst-run hotel in the whole of western Europe (well, except for that place in Eastbourne...) In a field with many top contenders, 'Fawlty Towers' remains my favourite of all 'Britcoms' - situation comedies originating on British television. Fawlty Towers has a cult following decades after the originals aired; it is sometimes hard to believe that there are but 12 episodes, six hours total. The regular cast is led by John Cleese, veteran of the famous Monty Python comedy troupe, as the irrepressible Basil Fawlty, titular head of the hotel with dreams of class and glory; Prunella Scales is his long-suffering and hardworking wife, Sybil, who recognises that while Basil may think 'the sky's the limit!', in fact, '22 rooms is the limit'. Connie Booth (Cleese's real-life wife) played the level-headed and sensible, overworked maid Polly, and in a role matched only by Fawlty's own bizarre manner, Andrew Sachs plays the lovable and ever-incompetent Spanish waiter, Manuel (he's from Barcelona...). Ballard Berkeley makes Ballard Berkeley makes a regular appearance as the Major, a retired long-term resident at the hotel. Brian Hall joined the cast for the second season as the not-quite-gourmet chef, Terry.

From the very first episode (first aired in 1975) featured a social-climbing Fawlty as perhaps the most rude and insufferable hotel manager in existence, in the resort town of Torquay, on the Channel coast of Britain. Sybil tries to maintain a reasonable level of service, but Fawlty's snobbishness permits him to be gracious (indeed, excessively fawning) toward those he considers 'worthy', which in this episode turns out to be Lord Melbury, who ends up not being Lord Melbury, but rather a confidence trickster, and Fawlty's revenge scares away the real 'posh' guests, whom Fawlty sends off with the hilarious shout, 'Snobs!' In each of the episodes, there is a crisis - one gets the sense that the life of Fawlty is non-stop crisis, with his wife and Polly forever picking up the pieces, Manuel always complicating things, and the others wandering around in a state of disbelief (or, in the case of the Major, perpetual daze). The twelve episodes highlight all the things that could wrong at hotel in classic comedic fashion - the institution of a Gourmet Night falls flat when the not-quite-recovering alcoholic chef starts drinking the night of the main event; a guest dies in the middle of the night, and Fawlty tries to slip him out unnoticed; remodelers install and remove the wrong doors; the health inspector unexpected shows up and gets served a bit of rat with his cheese.

However, nothing quite matches the kinds of situations Basil can get himself into. When trying to plan a surprise anniversary dinner for his wife, she leaves the hotel thinking that Basil has forgotten again, and Basil dresses Polly up as a sick-bed-bound Sybil to fool the guests. When Polly's friends check in for a wedding over the weekend, Basil suspects the group of free sexual expression (highlighting his own repression); this theme is carried over to a glorious extreme in the episode about the visiting Psychiatrist.

'How does he make his living?' Basil protests. 'He makes his money by sticking his nose into others' private parts, er, details...' This is also the episode where Sybil finally confronts Basil about his double-sided hotel manner toward guests: 'You're either crawling all over them, licking their boots, or spitting poi

noelbotevera 14 May 2004

Just saw again the first four episodes of John Cleese's wonderful, wonderful Fawlty Towers, the dysfunctional hotel run by the inimitable Basil Fawlty (Cleese), and his battle-wagon wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales). Amazing how many belly laughs and guffaws the show can still inspire, and this is probably my third or fourth viewing (still, it's been years).

Even more amazing is the short documentary on the realBasil Fawlty--Donald Sinclair, manager and owner of the Gleneagle, an ex Navy commander who (as Ray Marks, present manager of the Gleneagle puts it) thought running the Gleneagle "would have been a wonderful job, if it wasn't for the guests. The guests spoiled his job."

According to legend, the Monty Python troupe once booked rooms at the Gleneagle, in the seaside town of Torquay; they still remember some of the things Sinclair did to them there. Pythoner Eric Idle carried an alarm clock inside his briefcase at the hotel reception; when Sinclair heard the ticking he said "My God, there's a bomb in there!" and threw it off a cliff. Later, Pythoner Terry Gilliam sat down to a meal and ate American style, cutting up the food first before picking up the pieces with his fork; Sinclair, passing by, picked up Gilliam's knife and snapped "we don't eat like that here!"

Eventually the entire Python troupe moved to another hotel--all except Cleese, who stayed. Apparently, he thought there was an idea for a TV show here somewhere.

It wasn't only the Pythoners that suffered; one guest asked for a drink at the bar, to which Sinclair replied by slamming down the grill and saying "the bar's closed." When his friend invited him to a nearby hotel to drink, Sinclair informed him that if he isn't back by 11 pm, the front door will be locked. He comes back late, and just as Sinclair threatened, the front door was locked. "This is ridiculous," he said, "my wife and daughter are in there," and started banging on the door; a light turned on in a window, and Sinclair popped his head out and said "I told you I'd lock the doors by 11!" The guest replied: "If you don't open the doors I'm going to knock them down!" Three or four minutes later, Sinclair opens the door, lets him in, bangs the door behind him loud enough to, as the guest put it, wake everyone in the hotel, and yells "Don't let that happen again!"

Sinclair was also hard on the hired help. He hated builders, and would yell and curse at them; one Greek waiter was so fed up with Sinclair's treatment of him he jumped into a taxi and demanded to be driven to London. Rosemary Harrison, who once worked for Sinclair, describes how when one waiter, tired of waiting for Sinclair to make the tea, took a teapot meant for another table. Sinclair stopped the serving of breakfast and "went up and down the tables like a policeman, questioning the guests. He came across a set of teapots at a table for two. He realised because of their size they were meant for a table for four, and he asked the guests for a description of the waiter."

Sinclair was apparently so appalling that when his wife had to go out shopping, she would lock him up in their room, and say to the staff "don't let him out, he's only going to upset you." Ian Jones, owner of the nearby Coppice Hotel, said "fugitives from the Gleneagle used to come knocking on our door, pleading accommodations."

He was, as

film-critic 7 December 2004

If you were to look up some of the most hysterical moments on the BBC, you would no doubtably come across two names. Those names would be John Cleese and Ricky Gervais. While Gervais recently found comedy through his program called 'The Office', Cleese has been providing wit, wisdom, and down-right hysteria for the past several decades. While away from his namesake (Monty Python), you can find Cleese comfortable in several other roles that showcase his bubbling talent. One of those programs just happens to be the funniest bit of crumpet called 'Fawlty Towers'.

Remembering this show when I was a child and was on our local PBS station, I eagerly bought it when it was released on DVD about a year ago. Since then, I have watched random episodes here and there but never fully taking in the enjoyment from watching it all. So, today I decided to sit down and watch this series from beginning to end and I have yet to finish laughing. If this program doesn't define comic genius, I don't know what does. Never have I witnessed a show that has continually been fresh, hysterical (I cannot use that word enough), real, and outlandish all at the same time. Normally, with our current television programming, you need to pick or choose which it will be, but thankfully 'Fawlty Towers' is all of these and many more.

Cleese remains in top form as Basil Fawlty, the owner/manager of the B&B that just happens to have his hands and over-worked imagination in everything. With the aid of his helpers Manuel (he's from Barcelona) and Polly (co-writer Connie Booth and ex-wife of Cleese), Cleese always seems to find himself in a heap of trouble with his wife Sybil (the dragon of the hotel). Armed with physical humor and a snake-like banter, we witness everything from a dead body, hotel inspectors, a failed anniversary party, a moose head, and a Himalayan rodent of sorts happen to this simple, everyday, B&B. This is not only a few of the episodes you will find in the complete set, but also the daily stress that Basil finds himself falling into daily.

This series, again, is hysterical. Cleese is the master of his trade while proving that he can manage any task thrown in front of him. While some will argue that he overshadows the rest of the cast, I would say 'hogwash' to that. My two favorite characters in this series were Major and Manuel. The comedy that they provide cannot be found on television today. All I need to say is thank God for the BBC.

Grade: ***** out of *****

basford 8 February 2006

Fawlty Towers is one the best, most popular but sadly slightly overshadowed comedies in Britain. it has the ingredients for perfect comedy and contains perfect characters. It is about this misanthropic arrogant man, Basil Fawlty, played brilliantly by the genius John Cleese, who is totally in the wrong job. He runs hotel and is rude to nearly everyone within a ten mile radius of him, but determined to make a success of his business. His wife Sybille played by Prunella Scales, whom he despises to the nth degree because she rules him with a rod of iron. Then there is Polly the waitress played by Connie Booth, the most intelligent character in the show who always ends up sorting out all the problems and keeps the hotel running. There is Manuel played by Andrew Sachs, the lovable gormless Spanish waiter who Basil bullies and tries to kill in nearly every episode. Other additional characters are the batty Major Gowen played by Ballard Berkeley, the dotty old ladies Miss Gatsby and Miss Tibs played by Renee Roberts and Gilly Flower and Terry the chef played by Brian Hall. All played very well.

One thing this programme didn't do like others is go on for series after series and eventually become far-fetched like several British sitcoms seem to do (cough, Last of the Summer Wine). It only ran for two series and left the audience starving for more. I think that it was a wise move not to do more, even though I would have loved it if they had. This is probably what John Cleese might be best remembered for in Britain, he not only stared in it he wrote it as well with wife Connie Booth. He based the character on a hotel proprietor in while staying at a hotel in England with the Python Gang.

I have no issues with this show at all, brilliant work. This kind of stuff needs to be treasured in Britain because it captures British humour perfectly. Whether you know the show or not, treat yourself to a DVD of series one or two (or both if want) and enjoy. And to those of you who haven't seen it before, I guarantee that you'll be in stitches within the first ten minutes of any episode.

QUOTE:- Basil Fawlty (trying to start his car)-Come on! Come on, start....START YOU VICIOUS BASTARD!

Bison74 6 May 1999

This is quite possibly the funniest set of videos I have ever seen. There were situations here that had me laughing so hard my sides ached. What makes it so magical is an incredible sense of timing topped with Cleese's flawless physical humor. To add to this a supporting cast who can literally "dance" around these two aspects makes for a symmetry so perfect that it'll leave you in tears. I would recommend any one of the videos in this set.

doggans 22 January 2003

Based on an actual hotel Cleese and the MP gang stayed at once, Fawlty Towers is a hilarious British sitcom with great characters and situations. Probably the most famous episode is the one with the Germans, as I hear it referred to the most.

Basil Fawlty (Cleese) is a grumpy hotel manager, with his domineering wife Sybil, the hotel maid Polly (co-creator and Cleese's wife at the time of the show Connie Booth), the Spanish waiter Manuel ("I learned classical Spanish, not this strange dialect he's using"), and the hotel's longest standing resident, the Major. Witty dialogue and hilarious slapstick situations make this a great show.

IridescentTranquility 12 March 2006

An interesting thought about the famous Basil Fawlty occurs to me on reflection - if his dear wife Sybil ("my little nest of vipers"), his put-upon chambermaid/receptionist/waitress Polly and his unfortunate Spanish waiter Manuel all died tomorrow, he'd never be able to cope running the hotel. He'd internally explode or offend the guests just that little bit too much, and that would be the end of Fawlty Towers.

If Basil died, on the other hand, I don't think Sybil, Manuel and Polly would worry at all about carrying on without him. Although he's a hotelier, Mr. Fawlty clearly doesn't like people at all. He exploits the fact that the slightly deaf and constantly complaining Mrs. Richards has her hearing aid switched off to ask, "Is this a piece of your brain?". Obviously sexually repressed, Basil can't come to terms with the liberated 1970s that he lives in. He goes out of his way to avoid giving an unmarried couple a double room, then spends the night "checking the walls" for woodworm and having misunderstandings with a pretty Australian guest, leading Sybil to respond with "If you're going to grope a girl, have the gallantry to stay in the room with her while you're doing it!". With lines like this, you can see why it took Connie Booth and John Cleese weeks to write each episode.

Basil himself is an interesting physical character. I think it particularly helps that John Cleese is well over six feet in height, because when Basil gets in a rage he seems trapped in his own body. Anyone else would be throwing things and flailing their arms about and screaming, but Basil, being emotionally (and certainly sexually) repressed, doesn't seem to know how to handle his anger and his physical struggle is very funny to watch.

There are a wonderful host of interesting characters for Basil to bounce off - a small guest named Mrs. Hall that he doesn't notice, a highly-strung ("Yes, he should be") teenager who demands salad cream instead of fresh mayonnaise and the priceless builder Mr. "lick o'paint" O'Reilly, as well as the better builder Mr. Stubbs ("That's a supporting wall! God help the floors above!"), the Major and the old ladies who seem to live in the hotel.

If Basil Fawlty was still alive today (though I imagine he'd have long since expired of a heart attack or astronomically high blood pressure), I'm not sure if he'd have retired or if he'd be clinging on to his treasured establishment until he dropped down dead. I'd like to think that Sybil could outlive him - perhaps in a twist on Basil's reference to the film "How To Murder Your Wife" she'd have gone mad and killed him - so whether she'd be in prison or retired or mourning the loss of Basil, I can't tell but I hope she'd enjoy her retirement.

Dave-J7 23 August 2014

That John Cleese should attempt farce after the ground-breaking success of Python is testimony to both his bravery and to his comedic genius and that he should succeed so dazzlingly is damn near miraculous. Most Beeb shows were written by very experienced professional writers and Cleese and his partner Connie Booth (Polly) had no experience at all of this sort of show, so to succeed so amazingly is indeed, astonishing. This was voted the best British programme, of any sort, ever, in a poll conducted by the British Film Institute and voted for by Industry professionals. Better than the Attenboroughs, better than the great dramas and better than Python, amongst many others. No finer accolade could be attached to any show, anywhere, anytime.

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