Pick of the week
Fawlty Towers 40th Anniversary Saturday, midday, UKTV (103)
Forty years on and this series of 12 hilarious episodes still makes us laugh, no matter how many times they’ve been repeated. The brains behind Fawlty Towers decided to quit while they were on top, a wise move (although another season wouldn’t have gone astray). The whole collection, starting with A Higher Class and ending with Basil the Rat, are shown back-to-back today to celebrate the anniversary of the BAFTA Award-winning cult comedy classic. John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth got the idea for the series in 1970 when the Monty Python team was staying at the Gleneagles Hotel in the seaside town of Torquay run by an eccentric, rude and inept owner. In the series, Cleese plays the bungling, dysfunctional Basil Fawlty, owner of the fictional Fawlty Towers near Torquay on the “English Riviera”. Prunella Scales is his nag of a wife, Sybil; Booth a rather sweet chambermaid, Polly; and Andrew Sachs the poor trainee waiter from Barcelona, Manuel. Cleese’s comic genius as the arrogant, manic snob of a hotel owner who doesn’t like guests is a triumph. In 2000 the British Film Institute voted Fawlty Towers the best British TV series of all time; hard to believe the BBC rejected the first script. “This is full of cliched situations and stereotypical characters and I cannot see it as being anything other than a disaster,” an executive said in a note to Cleese.