Fawlty Towers, 12 Things You May Not Know

Fawlty Towers BBC 1975

Based on a real-life guest house in the English seaside resort of Torquay, Fawlty Towers is one of the most celebrated TV series of all time.

Despite being written 40 years ago, Fawlty Towers remains as fresh and funny as ever thanks to the irrepressible Basil (John Cleese), his overbearing wife Sybil, the very patient Polly, and, of course, the hapless waiter from Barcelona, Manuel.

* Basil Fawlty is based on a real hotel manager – Mr. Sinclair, who ran the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay – where John Cleese and the rest of the team stayed during filming for Monty Python.

* Mr. Sinclair was- according to John Cleese – “the rudest man I ever met.” He reprimanded Python Terry Gilliam for not holding his knife and fork properly, threatened to call a bomb alert after Eric Idle left his briefcase in reception and almost refused to call a taxi for Cleese.

* In each episode, the letters on the hotel sign are rearranged to create alternative names – including Watery Fowls, Farty Towels, Flowery Twats and Fatty Owls.

* Fawlty Towers has been shown in more than 60 countries – from Tonga to Bosnia, from China to Pakistan and from Latvia to Malta.

* The first ever review was in the Daily Mirror newspaper. It said: “Long John, short on jokes.”

* Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel, was paid damages by the BBC after a jacket was treated with acid by the special effects department to look as if it was on fire. It really did burn through to his skin and he still bears the scars.

* John Cleese (as Basil) nearly knocked Andrew Sachs (Manuel) out with a heavy saucepan, when the actor made an unexpected move during filming after five days of rehearsals. The hapless actor had a headache for two days.

* Only 12 episodes were ever made.

* Each script took six weeks to write and a week to film – a total of 42 weeks to produce each series of six episodes.

* The production team spent nearly an hour editing each minute of every program – spending up to 25 hours on each show.

* John Cleese wrote his first comedy sketch at the age of 12 – jotting down some dialogue for two of his favorite radio characters in a school exercise book.

* John Cleese’s comic influences as a child include: George Burns, Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, Phil Silvers and the Goons.