The doorbell rings and, standing on the porch with a hopeful and expectant look, it is usually Australian or American. The question that follows is almost always the same. “Can you tell me where we can find Fawlty Towers?” Eight years of such consultations have fine tuned our responses. We smile sympathetically, call them and start with “Well …”. Then we have to explain to an increasingly disappointed visitor that, although the hotel that inspired the series still exists in Torquay, none of the shots, whether external or internal, were from Torquay. The internal shots were part of a set created in the BBVC TV center, while the exterior of the hotel itself was a Country Club in Buckinghamshire (now sadly missing), while the remaining exterior scenes (mainly street scenes) were filmed largely in Harrow and its surroundings. Northwest London This situation is one that many hotel owners in Torquay and its surroundings experience in one way or another quite routinely.
Hardships to travel around the world
It is difficult to think of any other television program of the 70s that can still encourage fans to travel to the other side of the world in a form of pilgrimage of the 21st century. It is unlikely that people are looking for the bus station that housed Reg Varney and the On the Buses crew, or the adult education center where the not-so-funny international stereotypes gathered for their English lessons in Mind your Language. And despite its brilliance, it’s hard to imagine a lot of people training in the houses of Surbiton where Margot, Jerry, Tom and Barbara lived in The Good Life.
A lot of Fawlty Towers has been written over the years and much of that cites the 12-episode limit as one of the reasons why it has become such a long-lasting classic. The argument says that because the brilliance of the writing of John Cleese and Connie Booth focused on so few episodes and they gave up before the quality had a chance to decrease, we were left with a series in which all are classics.
Comedy and its journey
The 40-year series has left us wonderful moments of comedy like Basil and his German guests, the superb Mrs. Richards (Performed by Joan Sanderson), Basil the rat and, of course, the Waldorf Salad.
The birth of the series in the mid-seventies was not easy. The initial reactions of senior BBC executives were not positive. Some of the first television critics were also hostile. One of those critics, Richard Ingrams, who was then a television critic for The Spectator, found himself at the receiving end of John Cleese’s revenge when a character named Mr Ingrams was trapped in his room with an inflatable doll. Industrial disturbances on the BBC also contributed to a difficult birth for the series.
Fans of the series have wanted more Basil and Cybil and for a while they were tempted by the prospect of something new. Even in the 1990s, John Cleese spoke of a feature film episode in which Basil and Sybil retired went to Barcelona to visit Manuel and his family. The idea was that Basil, increasingly enraged, would experience maddening delays at Heathrow Airport only to find his flight hijacked by a terrorist. An apoplectic Basil, without help, overcame the kidnapper only for the pilot to tell him they were returning to Heathrow. Next to him with rage, Basil hijacked the plane himself and insisted that he land in Barcelona, whereby Basil was arrested and spent the rest of his time in a Spanish jail. Obviously, such a premise offers many opportunities for the classic Basil Fawlty, but in the end John Cleese wisely decided to forget the idea. One just has to watch the feature episodes of Dad’s Army, On the Buses, Steptoe and Son and are you being served? Realize that it is difficult to take some of our dearest characters beyond 30 minutes and continue with the comedy. Sometimes too, a character away from his natural situation seems strange and out of place.
Fans of Fawlty Tower
Some of the enthusiastic Fawlty Towers fans have mysteriously talked about an episode 13 that was written and filmed but never managed to pass the initial edition. Titled The Robbers, this episode allegedly dealt with a blackout in the hotel and carefully wrapped things up to bring the series to a conclusion. The reasons why it was not aired are many, but include the possibility that you have avoided a third series that still seemed like a possibility at that time. Despite the denials of everyone involved, the rumor of episode 13 persists particularly in cyberspace. However, it would have required a conspiracy on the scale of a Dan Brown novel to have kept such a secret for so long.
Fawlty Towers characters appeared for a while after the end of the series. Basil and Manuel appeared in some corporate training videos for an oil company, while Cybil made a significant appearance in a Children in Need sketch when she appeared as the new owner of the Hotel at the Babylon Hotel.
Although Donald Sinclair the inspiration for Basil has long since died, Basil’s ghost still lurks in the palm-lined paths of Torquay. Behind the guest houses with net curtains and B & B of the English Riviera, it is still possible to find eccentric owners who rule their small worlds with almost the same exasperation, frustration and barbarism. Some delight in describing themselves as the last days, Basil Fawltys, forgetting that much of the comedy in the program arose from the horrible thing about Basil’s relationship with his wife, from his total lack of suitability for a career that deals with the public and a paralyzing frustration with their position in life. Ms. Sinclair survived her husband in some way and bravely defended her reputation believing that the series had unfairly insulted her. However, she accepted that her late husband was perhaps not ideal for owning a hotel.
So I know that when ever people want to travel abroad they want to see those places where shooting took place and want to improve their love and affection for the characters of serial.