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Recap / Fawlty Towers S1E1 "A Touch of Class"

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"A Touch of Class" is the first episode of the first season of Fawlty Towers.

As Basil tries to raise the tone of the hotel, the aristocratic Lord Melbury comes to stay at the hotel. Basil fawns over him at every opportunity, causing himself to neglect or annoy other guests, until Polly discovers Melbury is actually a confidence trickster. Meanwhile, Sybil orders Basil to hang a picture.

Tropes that appear in this episode:

  • Brick Joke: Basil keeps ignoring a guest's drink order because he is too busy sucking up to a noble. Over the course of the episode much chaos ensues as the noble turns out to be a con man, and the episode ends with his former customer waltzing angrily into the lobby and shouting his order one last time.
  • Con Man: Lord Melbury turns out to be one.
  • Fake Aristocrat: Lord Melbury persuades Basil that he is a member of the nobility, and charms him into a personal loan, leaving a briefcase full of "valuable jewels" as surety for repayment. Basil is conned and fawning... until the case is opened and shown to contain only bricks.
  • Foreshadowing: Basil takes a phone call from a Mr O'Reilly about a wall O'Reilly was supposed to build. The very next episode revolves around O'Reilly's incompetent and lazy brand of construction work.
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  • Hypocritical Humour: Sir Richard Morris and his wife are so shocked and disgusted at Basil's antics that they decide to leave Fawlty Towers only moments after arriving. Basil angrily shouts and yells at them for being stuck-up snobs, despite constantly ranting about the riff-raff and lower classes at the hotel for pretty much the entire episode.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: Played With, in that the "Special Guest" is a con-man deliberately pretending to be a Lord to get preferential treatment.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: It's clear that Mr. Brown is doing this, as while he acts like a jack the lad and can't appear to read well, he can speak Spanish fluently. He turns out to be an undercover police officer.
  • Revenge Before Reason: All Basil had to do was let Lord Melbury leave the hotel. He'd be quietly arrested, Basil would get his money back, and Sir Richard and Lady Morris would be none the wiser. Instead, he decides to toy with the con man before letting slip that he's onto him. The police swarm the hotel, Melbury takes a chair to the crotch, Basil gives him a good kick and then pulls his money right out of his pocket - and the aristocrats he had hoped would raise his reputation leave in disgust.
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  • Running Gag:
    Mr. Wareing: "A gin and orange, a lemon squash and a scotch and water PLEASE!"


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