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Trivia / Fawlty Towers

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  • Approval of God: There have been several attempts at remaking the series overseas. John Cleese admitted to enjoying the German pilot in a DVD Commentary.
  • Big Name Fan: Martin Scorsese has said he's a big fan of the show.
  • California Doubling: The hotel used was actually a country club in Buckinghamshire.
  • Creator Couple: John Cleese and Connie Booth were married when they made the first season. They divorced by the time of the second one, but still could work together. This has led to rumors that the show ended because of their divorce, by people who didn't do the research about the timing.
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  • Creator's Favorite Episode: John Cleese's favorite episode is "Basil the Rat".
  • The Danza: None of the main characters, but Andre, the restaurant owner from the fifth episode, is played by Andre Maranne.
  • Fake American: The actor (Bruce Boa) who played the American Mr. Hamilton was actually Canadian.
  • Fake Brit: Yes and no. Connie Booth had lived in Britain for so long that she could be said to be actually British. Also played with in "Gourmet Night," where she sings in a perfect but annoying American accent.
  • Fake Nationality: Manuel, who's from Barcelona, was played by Andrew Sachs, a German-born British actor. This continues into the German dub, where Andrew Sachs dubbed himself, and had fun trying to speak German with a Spanish accent.
  • In Memoriam: After Andrew Sachs passed away in November 2016, the BBC reaired the episode "Communication Problems", with a dedication by John Cleese.
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  • Inspiration for the Work: The series was inspired when Monty Python stayed at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, run by Donald and Beatrice Sinclair. Mr Sinclair's irascible antics included: berating Terry Gilliam for eating his meals in "too American" a way; throwing Eric Idle's briefcase over a wall because of a "bomb scare" (the scare was that Idle left the briefcase in the reception area); disbelief at Michael Palin asking to pre-book the Gleneagles TV to catch a show; after Graham Chapman requested an omelet made with three eggs, Sinclair brought him an omelet with three fried eggs perched on top; when asked by Cleese to call for a taxi, he argued with Cleese and took his time calling for the cab. Cleese was fascinated by what he described as "the most wonderfully rude man I'd ever met" and called Connie Booth down to experience it, and the rest is history.
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  • Jossed: A rumour circulated for years about a Missing Episode involving a blackout in the hotel. This was covered in Fawlty Towers: A Worshipper's Companion. Cast and crew have all denied this, and there is no BBC documentation for filming/recording dates.
  • Multiple Languages, Same Voice Actor: Andrew Sachs, who was born in Germany, reprised Manuel in the German dub, complete with Spanish accent.
  • Old Shame:
    • John Cleese named The Builders as "the least good" of the Fawlty Towers episodes that were filmed, owing to a general lack of laughter in the studio on recording day. He recalls that members of the Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation were visiting the studio that day and many of them were in the front row seats, apparently not entirely amused.
    • The American remake, Payne, is this for John Larroquette, who simply calls it a "pain".
  • The Red Stapler: The Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, which was the place off which Basil and Sybil's hotel was based, ran Fawlty Towers weekends once a month. Guests were looked after by actors playing the parts of Basil, Sybil and Manuel.
  • Romance on the Set: John Cleese (Basil) and Connie Booth (Polly) were married when they wrote and acted the first series (1975). By the time of the second, in 1979, they were divorced, although they were on good enough terms to keep working together.
  • Streisand Effect: The widow of Donald Sinclairnote , the man Basil Fawlty was based on, once contacted the British newspapers to complain about how John Cleese had greatly exaggerated her husband's eccentricities and irascibility. Which had the unfortunate effect of prompting more witnesses, including Sinclair's own children, to come forward with even more stories that suggested that, if anything, Cleese had actually been rather generous and respectful to him.
  • Technology Marches On: In the days of mobile phones, some of the plot dilemmas would be much easier to resolve. Particularly "The Anniversary", when Sybil misses the surprise party because she thought Basil had forgotten about their anniversary.
  • Throw It In!: The series mostly kept to the script, although there was one case in "Basil the Rat", where Basil and Manuel are busy talking about a rat, with Manuel denying that it is a hamster. Normally, he speaks in broken English, but in one instance mutters, in perfect English, "It's not a rat, it's a hamster!". The shock on John Cleese's face is priceless, and as a result it's become rather memetic.
    • The scene in "The Hotel Inspectors" in which Basil needs three tries to open a wine bottle because the cork keeps breaking, was a complete accident. Cleese admits that it could never have worked that well if they'd tried to do it deliberately.
  • Trope Namer: For "Fawlty Towers" Plot.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The show is timeless for the most part, except for occasional references to Prime Minister Harold Wilson and General Francisco Franco. Basil's obsession with social class also has a distinctively 1970s vibe, as the neoliberalism and dismantling of traditional working-class industries of the 1980s majorly changed the way the British class system worked.
    • Sybil getting annoyed about Basil spending £40 on a newspaper ad seems strange until you consider that's something like £320 in today's money.
    • Basil reading Peter Benchley's Jaws at the height of its popularity. Now, the book has been totally eclipsed by the film released in the same year as the episode, 1975.
    • In "The Germans" Basil keeps talking about how "we're all in this together now," as England had just joined the European Common Market.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Bridget Turner turned down the role of Sybil, feeling it wasn't right for her.
    • Cleese had an idea for a follow-up film. Basil and Sybil would have been invited to Spain to visit Manuel's family, but airport delays and a terrorist hijacking deter them. When Basil is so incensed he overcomes the terrorist in a fit of rage, he takes the terrorist's gun and demands the plane continue to Barcelona. When it lands, he's promptly arrested for hijacking, and is released just in time to catch the flight back home. Cleese nixed the idea because he couldn't make a "Fawlty Towers" Plot flow well enough over ninety minutes.
    • "The Kipper and the Corpse" was going to end with the dead guest's identical twin brother appearing, naturally causing Basil to explode as he thought the man had been pranking him the whole time. Cleese eventually nixed the idea as he couldn't figure out how to keep the humor going after the inevitable moment where the twin catches on that his brother is dead.
  • Write What You Know
    • As previously mentioned, the entire series was inspired by John Cleese spending the night in a hotel with a raving mad owner.
    • Manuel was based on John Cleese's experiences working in restaurants as a teenager, where many of the staff members were cheaply-hired immigrants who didn't speak a word of English.
  • Word of God: John Cleese said that they had little intention of creating catch phrases (Manuel says "¿Qué?" a lot, for instance, because... well, how could that not be the case?), though they did eventually realize that the "He's from Barcelona" line almost got funnier each time they put it in. Especially when Sybil and Polly are eventually forced to use it and the one instance where Manuel himself says "I'm from Barcelona" in the first episode of the second series.
  • Write Who You Know: Sybil's distinctive laugh was based on Connie Booth's.
  • You Look Familiar: Terence Cooley appears as two different characters in the series. He plays Mr Wareing in "A Touch of Class" in Season 1, and Mr Johnson in Season 2's "Waldorf Salad".


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