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!


Lindsay said...

My comedy favourite was Freddie Starr juggling with two hoops of barbed wire!

Maggie May said...

I also loved Fawlty Towers. The one about the rat, the inspector's visit and another about *not mentioning the war* when a German came to stay.
I don't think I will ever get fed up of watching Basil & Sybil.

I used to like Tony Hancock & Sid james in Hancock's Half Hour.

Dumdad said...

Fawlty Towers is a classic and one of my favourites too.

I've just rewatched The Office and Extras with my wife and son - brilliant.

Suburbia said...

A classic fav! I wish they had made more, I think know them all off by heart! Sometimes you need a good laugh don't you?

AGuidingLife said...

We've just finished rewatching the first series of allo-allo. I enjoyed it as a blast from the past.

Lakeland Jo said...

Eric Morecambe or Ronnie Barker-they both make me smile before even speaking!

ADDY said...

I loved that episode too, particularly when Manuel ended up with the goose on his foot like a slipper. I so enjoyed those Fawlty Tower episodes and although I know what's coming, I can still watch them over and over again. I think that is a good test if something can stand the tides of time. The same goes for Vicar of Dibley, One Foot in the Grave and Yes Minister, which I used to thoroughly enjoy.

The bike shed said...

I think the best of the sitcoms still take some beating.

I saw an episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads the other week - that took me back to family parties in the North East in the Seventies; my auntie (just like Thelma) acting all posh because they lived in a semi in Cramlington and had colour TV.

And I liked Reggie Perrin too, the grot shops, Doc Morrissy and all.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Lindsay: I'll have to have a look at that one! Is it on YouTube?

Maggie: I love "Hancock's Half Hour". My in-laws live down the road from Cheam ('23 The Railway Cuttings, East Cheam'). I think about Tony Hancock, 'the lad himself' every time we go through it and my little boy laughs like Sid James!

Dumdad: I must watch "The Office" again. I've not managed to watch every single episode (especially the final ones) so to sit down and watch it all in one or two gos would be wonderful. I haven't been able to get into "Extras" as yet...but it is always a possibility.

Suburbia: I agree with you...a good laugh is cathartic. I'm also a fan of "Green Wing" and "Black Books".

Kellogsville: Welcome to my blog! I'll be over to yours soon. I appreciate "'allo 'allo" more and more as I get older.

Lakeland Jo: I am so with you there. I think that Eric and Ernie were/are absolutely top notch. The "Fork Handles" (Barker and Corbett) sketch is superb. I was allowed to stay up with my late godfather's mum to watch all those series on a Saturday night. I still think of those "The Worm That Turned" sketches...amazing as to what sticks in your mind...isn't it?

Rosiero: I love your choices too. I particularly liked "Yes Minister"...Sir Humphrey's labyrinthine speeches. Oh what joy!

Mark: 'The Likely Lads' are part of the family up here...which I'm sure you know....I do so love it. I enjoy watching it for many reasons..not least to see what has happened to the Tyneside landscape over the years...same with "The Sweeney" (which I am watching every week regularly) and London.

I liked "Reggie Perrin" or rather "Rigsby" in "Rising Damp" as well.

You talking about Doc Morrissey got me thinking about Neil Morrissey and "Men Behaving Badly" which I hated when it first came out but think it is brilliant now!
(Not sure about the latest reincarnation of Reggie. I do not know why classics are re-made. Waste of time, energy and talent.)

Sandi McBride said...

I love Fawlty Towers! This seems to be the day for nostalgia posts and this took me back years!!!
Thanks so much for the fond memories!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Fawlty Towers was just wonderful... such a giggle. Fond memories of sitting with my family, watching the Dont Mention the War episode amongst others... so funny. Loved The Good Life, Rising Damp, Eric Morecambe made me laugh so hard it hurt... oh, and It Aint Half Hot, Mum... so silly but tremendous fun. Awfully dated now I think... and more modern day favourites are the Office and Extras... so cringe making but genius stuff. x

French Fancy... said...

My ex (bf not hubbie - I've never actually been married; Mr FF and I have a civil partnership agreement because we are rebels) was a real fan of FT and I used to be pretty word perfect because he would watch them so much. They are funny and certain scenes will stay with me until I am gaga. Just writing this post makes me think of Basil with his head bandaged in the hospital bed pretending to be asleep -and then of course his eyes open wide and he sneaks away.

My favourite comedy series now are Extras and Simon Pegg's Spaced. We watch them over and over again and they still make us both laugh

(have you had your results yet?)

Sarah said...

Two Ronnies, Black Books, Green Wing, yes, indeedy, plus Steptoe, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme was appalling and a scream- radio shows happily distract me, in the studio: Hut 33, Count Arthur Strong...Good game, good game! I have enjoyed my little saunter down the comedy culdesac, I 'll pop in again, neighbour, if that's okay with you?
Best wishes

Yorkshire Pudding said...

What are my comedy favourites? "Sgt Bilko", "The Young Ones" and "Steptoe and Son" - all three have provided me with side-splitting laughter when so many so-called comedy shows leave me poe-faced e.g."My Family" - truly awful!...Business idea - why not rename your B&B "The Fawlty Towers B&B" - you could be Sybil and hubby could be either Manuel or Basil. I am sure your bookings would multiply!

Mickle in NZ said...

Thrashing the car was a Fawlty Towers brilliance, now let us be encouraging all to watch this episode -

The Final scene, with Basil sharpening the carving knife in preparation to lifting the lid on the dish is pure comedy classic wonder.

Who remembers just what was under that shiny cover?

Mickle in NZ said...

And the sign outside the hotel altered each time until we got to see such classics as

Farty Towels......

Wow - so many blog friends that I adore have commented, across a big wide bloggy world

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Sandi, LWM, FF, YP, Sarah and Mickle...sorry about the "block" reply. My laptop has been invaded by sorry...Norton! (same thing) and it is not working. Am using hubbie's very briefly before we go to another lecture over at The Roman Army Museum - all about bones!

When I get my NEW computer (yes!!!) I will make a good a proper reply.

P.S. YP - 40% of our guests are from Yorkshire.

P.P.S - FF - Scan results take at least 2 weeks to get to consultant. Goodness knows when I get to hear results.

the fly in the web said...

Ring his secretary.

Anonymous said...

I used to love Fawlty Towers too - still do when it's on Sky.

CJ xx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Fly: I will do that..thanks for that. I rang last Friday and was told about the "two weeks" business. I was going to let that go by and then ring again. I'm sure the NHS is fine but Mr. H. has just had a good idea. He reckons that we patients (in the NHS) could be given a tracking number. That would appease patient frustration and also let other departments know what was going on. His mum was once in Epsom hospital for two different things and for two and a half weeks she was not seen by any doctor as she had fallen between the cracks of two departments. (sic)

CJ: Yes..I dug out my DVDs. I didn't want to watch it but once I'd got into it...I was chortling. I think it was more the fact that it still had that impression on me after all these years - what moved me - perhaps more than the comedy itself. Memories. Memories.

the fly in the web said...

Epsom hospital...goodness, that brings back childhood memories...and my mother in law was there last year and fell through the cracks as well. That tracking number seems a great idea...if it can tame the Post Office it can tame the NHS.
Well done Mr. H!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Had a good computer clearout. Touch wood it is a lot better for it.

Sandi: Glad you enjoyed going down nostalgia lane!

LWM: I like your favourites too. The old ones are the good ones. (Or am I just getting boringly stuffy?)

FF: "Spaced"...not seen that, so I will look out for it. Everyone is raving on about "Extras" too. I shall try to be more open minded about it.

Sarah: I like all your comedy mentions as well. "Gimme, gimme, gimme" was pretty awful. I couldn't cope with "Little Britain" either - although their sketch of the guy in the wheel chair popping in for a pool swim whilst his carer, Lou, was talking to the lifeguard, was truly inspired. I do like Radio 4 comedies as well. Mr. H and me (or is it "I"? I can never remember) went to see "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" with Rob Brydon in the chair, at The Newcastle Theatre Royal, recently. It was well worth it.

YP: Yes..I'm a fan of Bilko, The Young Ones and Steptoe & Son as well. "The Young Ones" made a huge impression on me in my teens. Absolutely terrific. My best friend once lived in student digs like those...I don't know how she did it. (In Manchester for £12 per week.) Do pop in again!

Turn ourselves into Fawlty Towers? Now there's a thought....I think I could definitely do a good Basil. My husband could be Sybil and my daughter could be Basil!

Mickle: It is a scream...isn't it? I think Prunella Scales is so wonderful in it. She's quite the unsung heroine.

Fly: Epsom keeps cropping up at the moment. When I was doing my stint today at The Roman Army Museum I met a couple from Epsom. We had a good old natter. Sorry to hear about your mother in law. Mr. H. says that the hospital is truly dreadful. To whom do we mention the tracking idea, I wonder? Who's the NHS czar right now? The cabinet is from "The Generation Game" the proverbial conveyor belt. Who gets the cuddly toy? Lord Mandelson???

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Sorry folks - my grammar's gone to pot. Am going square eyed after having done battle with the computer for hours. I think I have tamed the beast.

YP and Sarah and everyone pop in again...! I'll be over to all yours shortly since I've managed to free up some disk space. The laptop has saved itself from being thrown out of the window. Just as well.

the fly in the web said...

Epsom again...when I was young it boasted five loony bins and some very strange people used to go to the cinema...I remember also the chap celebrated as 'the Epsom Baths maniac'. The hospital never had a good name, but I can't now remember whether it was originally one of the loony bins.
I did see the Rolling Stones at the Epsom Baths hall, as did the rest of the school once our headmistress had warned us in the strongest of terms of the depravity of their performance.
And you think it's just known for the Derby and the Oaks!
Mother in law escaped.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Glad your mother-in-law escaped in the end, Fly.

I've just checked with Mr. H. as he did put some groups on at Epsom Baths: Arthur Brown, Elton John and the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour (involving Leon Russell and Joe Cocker apparently). He used to be Social Secretary at Epsom College and put on Matthew's Southern Comfort and Black Sabbath there. (I apologise for any misspellings...these bands are a bit before my time. Dare I say that?)

He reckons Epsom General was not a loony bin (in a previous existence). All of asylums were over at West Park, an area now reincarnated into new housing estates.

I do seem to have some strange affinity with Epsom. My ex ended up living near there for a time. This was a good while before I met Mr. H. (I hasten to add).

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I meant to say that I could do a fair impression of Manuel.

Incompetence in the kitchen, forgetting things, falling over and getting the wrong end of the stick. Yep...that's me!

Dumdad said...


I see you've been walking down my memory lane on my blog.

Yes, you should write about your first days at the Bank. I for one would be fascinated to have a peep behind the scenes. I always think other people's jobs/life are far more fascinating than mine.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I have to say, Dumdad, that I am very tempted to do that. Thank you for the encouragement.

I'd love to be able to dig out all my overseas bank itineraries. I have stayed in some lovely hotels. There was a particularly posh one in Paris, however, for the life of me I cannot remember its name.

the fly in the web said...

Mr. H must be somewhat younger than me...wish we had has anyone so good arranging gigs in my day.

kestrel said...

I liked one comedy called Black Adder - how Prince Edmund tries to snatch the crown. And there was one about the French Resistance fooling the Greman troops, the accent and the twist of words were quite hilarious (was it called allo Allo. Rene, the cafe owner and his team

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you, Fly, I'll tell Mr.H. He has got a marvellous knack for organising things. (He'd have gone to The Rolling Stones gig if he had got the chance.)

Kestrel - I like "Blackadder" too. Perhaps what amazes me the most is to see Tony Robinson transmogrified into the leader of "The Time Team". I still try and watch it these days to see them digging up Roman bits and bobs. "'Allo 'Allo" is a classic too for sure!

DD's Diary said...

Strangely was thinking about Fawlty Towers the other day and wondering if my girls are old enough to appreciate it going to give it a try! Fascinating about the real Basil.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I think it is worth it, DD. They will either love it or hate it...but it is always wonderful to introduce something different to the lovely darlings. It is passing on our shared TV legacy!

Expat mum said...

Although it didn't have a laugh track, I used to love Butterflies. Wendy Craig's timing was masterful.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I seem to remember fancying the elder brother, expatmum. Can't recall his name. Of course Nicholas Lyndhurst, the younger one, went on to greater things.

Anonymous said...

May not be the wisest move to admit a certain fondness for 'Are You Being Served?" in my very first comment here... Quite unfortunate that the most seminal influence on my conversational innuendo comes from one Mrs Slocombe.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello artfulkisser (love your name BTW). Welcome to this blog. I'll be over to yours soon! On the subject of Mrs. Slocombe can I point your in the direction of this post by Dumdad:

...Don't know whether you've seen it?

I loved "Are you being served?" as well. Am hoping they repeat it on the main channels very soon.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Can I point you?.........

Sorry, rushing to collect little one from school.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Can I point you?.........

Sorry, rushing to collect little one from school.

Nota Bene said...

...and your B&B?..... :-)

Iota said...

I had no idea it was based on a real person. That's amazing.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

NB: Sorry to have not replied for ages. The B&B is doing well and is busy. We still have to get the business plan back to the bank. They are being surprisingly patient. Amazing! Hope your holiday in Germany went well.

Iota: I think that a lot of "fiction" is based on real life stuff. I quite like that idea.