'Fawlty Towers' began its run on British TV on September 19th, 1975, on BBC2, with 'A Touch of Class'. The last episode of the second and final series was 'Basil the Rat', which was broadcast on October 25th, 1979, originally on BBC2.
Inspired by Monty Python's stay at a Torquay hotel, and its owner Donald Sinclair, John Cleese watched on with awe as Mr. Sinclair threw Eric Idle's briefcase outside, apparently saying, "Bombs...there's a lot of them about", and throwing a bus timetable at some unfortunate guest, who had the temerity to ask when the next bus was to Torquay town centre. Terry Gilliam's table manners were also questioned.
The Sinclair family were unhappy when John Cleese let slip who Basil Fawlty was based on, but the British actually admire people like that. We're often stuffy, so Donald Sinclair's reactions are how we'd like to behave more often - if we could get away with it.
There were only 12 episodes (6 episodes in both series) of this wonderful sitcom, as co-writers John Cleese and Connie Booth wanted to make sure 'Fawlty Towers' didn't, unlike a lot of Basil's guests, outstay its welcome.
The four main characters - Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), his cackling bossy boots of a wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales), the put upon Polly (Connie Booth), and the hotel's tortured slave Manuel (Andrew Sachs), were augmented by an impressive list of guest stars - some crackers, some normal. Depending on who they were, Basil could be charming and fawning, but, if they were German or American, a young male, or anyone not in 'his class', Basil's contempt didn't take long to surface. This was British farce at its best, and the acting and writing was of a seriously high standard - the latter being all the more notable as Cleese's marriage to Connie Booth was disintegrating at the time.
I did have a holiday in Torquay once, and I don't really remember any stroppiness from any hotel staff, so don't be nervous staying there...
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
Fawlty Towers Episode List (and original air dates on BBC2)
Series One (19th September, 1975 - 24th October, 1975)
A Touch Of Class (19th September, 1975)
The Builders (26th September, 1975)
The Wedding Party (3rd October, 1975)
The Hotel Inspectors (10th October, 1975)
Gourmet Night (17th October, 1975)
The Germans (24th October, 1975)
Series Two (19th February, 1979 - 25th October, 1979)
Communication Problems (19th February, 1979)
The Psychiatrist (26th February, 1979)
Waldorf Salad (5th March, 1979)
The Kipper And The Corpse (12th March, 1979)
The Anniversary (26th March, 1979)
Basil The Rat (25th October, 1979)
Fawlty Towers DVDs available from booksmusicfilmstv.com - in association with Amazon.co.uk
Fawlty Towers Cast List (in alphabetical order - regulars/directors in bold)
Trevor Adams as Alan in 'The Wedding Party'
Denyse Alexander as Kitty in 'The Anniversary'
James Appleby as Mr. Stubbs in 'The Builders'
Robert Arnold as Arthur in 'The Anniversary'
Elizabeth Benson is Mrs. Heath in 'Gourmet Night' and Mrs White in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Lisa Bergmayr as German Guest in 'The Germans'
Ballard Berkeley as Major Gowen
Imogen Bickford-Smith as Girlfriend in 'The Psychiatrist'
Norman Bird as Mr. Arrad in 'Waldorf Salad'
Bruce Boa as Mr. Hamilton in 'Waldorf Salad'
Connie Booth as Polly Shearman
Willy Bowman as German Guest in 'The Germans'
Bill Bradley as Mr. Mackintosh in 'Communication Problems'
Peter Brett as Brian (1st hotel inspector) in 'The Wedding Party'
Pamela Buchner as Miss Young in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Richard Caldicot as Lionel Twitchen in 'Gourmet Night'
Ken Campbell as Roger in 'The Anniversary'
John Cleese as Basil Fawlty
Terence Conoley is Mr. Wareing in 'A Touch of Class' and Mr Johnstone in 'Waldorf Salad'
James Cossins as Mr. Walt in 'The Wedding Party'
Brenda Cowling as Sister in 'The Germans'
Bernard Cribbins as Mr. Hutchinson in 'The Wedding Party'
Michael Cronin as Mr. Lurphy in 'The Builders'
Allan Cuthbertson as Colonel Hall in 'Gourmet Night'
Claire Davenport as Miss Wilson/Large woman in 'The Germans'
John Howard Davies Director of first series
Richard Davies as Mr. White in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'.
Anthony Dawes as Mr. Libson in 'Waldorf Salad'
Aimée Delamain as Mrs. Johnson in 'The Psychiatrist'
Barney Dorman as Mr. Kerr in 'The Builders'
June Ellis as Mrs. Johnston in 'Waldorf Salad'
Robin Ellis as Danny Brown in 'A Touch of Class'
Gilly Flower as Miss Abitha Tibbs
Sabina Franklyn as Quentina in 'Basil the Rat'
Dorothy Frere as Miss Hare in 'Waldorf Salad'
Iris Fry as Mrs. Sharp in 'The Germans'
Yvonne Gilan as Mrs. Peignoir in 'The Wedding Party'
Dan Gillian as German Guest in 'The Germans'
Elspet Gray as Dr. Abbott in 'The Psychiatrist'
Michael Gwynn as Lord Melbury in 'A Touch of Class'
Brian Hall as Terry the Chef
Michael Halsey as Mr. Jones in 'The Builders'
Basil Henson as Dr. Abbott in 'The Psychiatrist'
Nicky Henson as Mr. Johnson in 'The Psychiatrist'
Roger Hume as Reg in 'The Anniversary'
Betty Huntley-Wright as Mrs. Twitchen in 'Gourmet Night'
Nick Kane as German Guest in 'The Germans'
Pat Keen as Virginia in 'The Anniversary'
David Kelly as Mr. O’Reilly in 'The Builders'
Diana King as Mrs. Lloyd in 'The Wedding Party'
Melody Lang as Mrs. Taylor in 'Basil the Rat'
Robert Lankesheer as Mr. Thurston in 'Communication Problems'
John Lawrence as Mr. Sharp in 'The Germans'
George Lee is a Delivery Man twice: Bennion in 'The Builders' and Kerr in 'Communication Problems'
Louis Mahoney as Doctor Finn in 'The Germans'
André Maranne as André in 'Gourmet Night'
Len Marten as a Guest in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Raymond Mason as Mr. Zebedee in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Robert McBain as Mr. Xerxes in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Charles McKeown as Mr. Ingrams in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Geoffrey Morris as John (2nd hotel inspector) in 'The Wedding Party'
Jay Neill as Bar Guest (Customer) in 'The Wedding Party'
David Neville as Ronald in 'Basil the Rat'
Claire Nielson as Mrs. Hamilton in 'Waldorf Salad'
Tony Page as Ronald Heath in 'Gourmet Night'
Geoffrey Palmer as Dr. Price in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Mervyn Pascoe as Mr. Yardley in 'Communication Problems'
Luan Peters as Raylene Miles in 'The Psychiatrist'
Conrad Phillips Mr. Lloyd in 'The Wedding Party'
Steve Plytas as Kurt the chef in 'Gourmet Night'
Mavis Pugh as Mrs. Chase in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
John Quarmby as Mr. Carnegie in 'Basil the Rat'
Renee Roberts as Miss Ursula Gatsby
Derek Royle as Mr. Leeman in 'The Kipper and the Corpse'
Andrew Sachs as Manuel
Joan Sanderson as Mrs. Alice Richards in 'Communication Problems'
Prunella Scales as Sybil Fawlty
Jeffrey Segal as Mr. Heath in 'Gourmet Night'
Johnny Shannon as Mr. Firkins in 'Communication Problems'
Beatrice Shaw as Miss Gurke in 'Waldorf Salad'
Christine Shaw as Audrey in 'The Anniversary'
Stuart Sherwin as a Guest in 'Basil the Rat'
David Simeon as Mr Mackenzie in 'A Touch of Class'
Bob Spiers Director of second series
Una Stubbs as Alice in 'The Anniversary'
Stella Tanner as Mrs. Arrad in 'Waldorf Salad'
James Taylor as Mr. Taylor in 'Basil the Rat'
April Walker as Jean Wilson in 'The Wedding Party'
Ann Way as Mrs. Hall in 'Gourmet Night'
Joanna Lumley as Ms. Spence door to door sales person in 'Basil the Rat'
Lionel Wheeler as Mr. Watson in 'A Touch of Class'
Andy Williams as Chris (3rd hotel inspector) in 'The Wedding Party'
Martin Wyldeck as Sir Richard Morris in 'A Touch of Class'