Saturday, 29 August 2009

"I know nuuthing!"

After having watched "The Hotel Inspector" last night (the schedules were a washout) it set me thinking about the classic comedy series "Fawlty Towers" with John Cleese as Basil - the demonic, dictatorial Hotel Manager; Prunella Scales as Sybil - Basil's long suffering wife; Connie Booth, as Polly - the waitress/Manager/struggling artist; and Andrew Sachs as Manuel - the bumbling Spanish waiter: "I know nuuthing!"

So I ended up watching "The Gourmet Night" episode where Basil ends up thrashing his clapped out car with a branch in suburban Torquay:

"That's it! I'm counting to three!....You can't say I haven't warned you!...I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!"

There is a very good summary of the programme here.

Many people do not know that that Basil was based on an actual person, Donald Sinclair. He was the owner of "The Gleaneagles Hotel" in Torquay where the Monty Python team stayed once whilst filming an episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" in the 1970s. All but John Cleese and Eric Idle left, so acerbic was Donald Sinclair's behaviour towards them. John stayed on, fascinated by Sinclair's idiotic idiosyncrasies, and invited his then wife, Connie Booth, to join him to see Donald in flow. Connie wrote both series of "Fawlty Towers" with Cleese. Initially he wrote the dialogue for the male characters and Connie wrote the dialogue for the female characters. They finished up writing the whole thing together. Many series are now so worked to death that they usually end up as damp squibs. Not Fawlty Towers. Twelve beautifully formed masterpieces.

Click here to see John Cleese talk about the technical difficulties of thrashing a car!

Click here to see Manuel, the waiter from Barcelona: "I speak English well! I learrrn it from a book" perplexing Major Gowen (retired).

I hadn't watched "Fawlty Towers" in such a long time. I have to say that it's simply wonderful when there's that feeling of reconnection with old favourites. In short, it is comedy timed to perfection. That last line "Duck's Off!" is still rattling around in my head.

So come on then! What are your comedy favourites?

P.S.: My promised posts are still in the pipeline. Only one week to go before schools go back!