The Torquay hotel that inspired John Cleese and Connie Booth to create Fawlty Towers is being demolished. The Guardian reports that retirement flats will be built in its place. Cleese and Booth starred in the BBC Two sitcom with Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs. Fawlty Towers ran for two non-concurrent series (seasons) in 1975 and 1979.
The Monty Python comedy group (aka The Pythons) reportedly stayed at Torquay’s Gleneagles Hotel in the early ’70s, while shooting Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Flabbergasted by the rude behavior of then-owners Donald and Beatrice Sinclair, most of the team moved on. Booth and Cleese, who were married at the time, stayed on to study the couple’s behavior. Per The Guardian, Cleese described Mr. Sinclair as “the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met.”
The Guardian reports:
Speaking last year to the local paper, the Herald Express, Cleese said he had long had an affinity with Devon. He used to visit with a school friend and they would play crazy golf and watch Torquay United.
“There is something really rather exotic about Torquay, with the palm trees – the English Riviera as Basil referred to it once,” Cleese said. “There is something comical about dumping this horrendous little English hotel in slightly swell surroundings.”
Members of the Python team have recalled their time at Gleneagles. Eric Idle returned to the hotel to find his bag had been removed and hidden behind a distant wall in the garden. Donald Sinclair apparently told him they thought it might be a bomb. Idle asked: ‘Why would anyone want to bomb your hotel?’ To which the hotelier replied: ‘We’ve had a lot of staff problems lately.’
Michael Palin recalled that Donald Sinclair ‘seemed to view us as a colossal inconvenience’, while his wife threatened them with a bill for a stay of two weeks even though they had checked out quickly. ‘But off we went with lighter hearts’, Palin added.
Fawlty Towers ranks number one on the British Film Institute list of best British TV shows: BFI TV 100. The institute compiled the list in the year 2000. The series has run on PBS affiliates in the US. It is available on DVD, iTunes, Seeso, and sometimes, on Netflix .
What do you think? Are you a fan of the Fawlty Towers TV show? Would you like to see it revived?