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by Robert Lobitz

There can never be another British sitcom that can rival Fawlty Towers. This was a knee slapping knock-down comedy show that made its broadcast debut in 1975. Only 12 episodes were completed and the last one was viewed on October 25, 1979. What was the reason for the four-year lapse for only 12 episodes? Well, there was a strike at the BBC at the time and one of the major characters wasn't initially interested in doing a second season.

The series stars John Cleese as Basil Fawlty; a snobby middle-class hotel owner yearning to belong to a much higher social standing. He is controlled by his wife, Sybil Fawlty, played by Prunella Scales. She is an energetic, feisty and domineering wife that runs her husband silly. As a team, they manage the hotel and the clients with amazing wit and enough humor to get you laughing off your seat.

Polly Sherman, the waitress and helper at the hotel, is played by Connie Booth. She was John Cleese's wife at the time. She tries to keep everything running smooth despite Basil's best efforts, (that always fail), to bring some sort of class to the hotel. Mixed into the punch is Manuel, the waiter and porter. Not able to understand a word of English at the beginning of the show, he gradually picks it up during the series. There are laughs galore when Basil frantically tries to explain things to Manuel while fighting through a language barrier.

The BBC originally rejected the first script for Fawlty Towers, written by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Needless to say, it finally did get accepted and ended up winning many awards for its efforts.

Each script would take approximately 4 months to write since Booth and Cleese were intent on getting it perfect. During these four months it would usually take about 10 drafts before the final script was completed to satisfaction. It took a lot of time to get one of these shows into production and finished, and then a strike by the technical staff at the BBC put things off further. Also, Connie Booth was unwilling at first to put together the second series, which led to the gap of four years between production.

Although there were only 12 episodes made, this comedy was far-reaching and there are still telltale signs of its popularity across the world. There are hotels named Fawlty Towers in Great Yarmouth UK, Rome, and even in Zambia, Africa. Some of these hotels are set up more like a hostile complete with bunk beds. The Zambia Fawlty Towers has bunk beds with mosquito screens and comes complete with a Basil and a Manuel.

If you haven't had a chance to take in the hilarious comedy of a Fawlty Towers episode, you are missing a slice of historical comedy that continues to live on to this day. Even with only 12 episodes released, this show rivals most comedies that have stretched out for years.

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Fawlty Towers

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