Tuesday, October 28, 2008

John Cleese "Fawlty Towers"

Regularly rated Britain's best sitcom, Fawlty Towers, the story of abrasive hotel owner Basil Fawlty, has a worldwide cult following over thirty years after its run on the BBC. According to Wikipedia, the series was inspired when John Cleese and other members of the Monty Python troop stayed at Donald Sinclair's Gleneagle hotel. Sinclair, whom Cleese characterized as "the most marvellously rude man" he "had ever met" was reported to have thrown a bus schedule at a guest who asked the time of the next arrival and is said to have put Eric Idle's suitcase outside the garden wall, suspecting that the ticking alarm clock he heard was a bomb. Sinclair supposedly told troop member Terry Gilliam, an American, that he was holding his fork in the wrong hand as he ate. Those who have seen Fawlty Towers will recall such shenanigans from the show. Those who haven't might imagine the comic possibilities.

The characters of Fawlty Towers also include Fawlty's shrewish wife Sybil, whom he describes as his "toxic midget", his "little piranha fish" and able "to kill a man at 10 paces with one blow of her tongue" and the Spanish waiter and bellboy Manuel whose profound incomprehension of English and slapstick manner make him a comedy legend. Perhaps Manuel's funniest performance is in what I believe is one of the best Fawlty Tower's episodes, "The Germans." This episode features a disastrous fire drill, a talking moose, and a concussed Basil impersonating Hitler to a family of vacationing Germans. It is difficult to watch this episode without pause, due to the tendency of the non-stop laughter it provokes to induce asphyxiation. Enjoy!

Fawlty Towers, The Germans, Part I:

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