on 12 October 2007
This is a fine celebration of a magnificent sitcom. There were only twelve episodes in all, but they remain hugely popular and still seem incredibly sharp and alive. This book tells the story of how John Cleese and Connie Booth came to devise the idea of a fawlty hotel manager, and how the cast and crew went on to create each fantastically funny episode, and what people made of them. It must have been a challenge to write a thorough account of a show that appears to have caused no backstage rows or major crises, but I think the author does an impressive job of capturing the sense of its evolution, and underlines what made it so special. A classy production.
on 13 January 2016
This is an exceedingly comprehensive, informative, well-researched and well-written telling of the whole Fawlty Towers story. Every nuance is explored and analysed with intelligence, perspicacity and wit. Reading this book is nearly as entertaining as watching the entirety of the twelve classic episodes from 37 and 41 years ago.
A real highlight that you won't find elsewhere is the author's (Graham McCann) brilliant chapter-long dissection of Basil and Sybil Fawlty's dysfunctional marriage. McCann has studied this series under a microscope and is clearly enthralled by everything about it. He has made me want to go back and watch it all again on DVD for the I'm-not-sure-how-many-eth time.
Note that this book also contains a complete episode guide with plot summaries, cast lists, original air dates and running times of every episode. And there are sixteen pages of photos.
This is a must-have for fans of the show.
Fawlty Towers The story of Britain's favourite sitcom by Graham McCann
Graham McCann is a writer on popular British television subjects. such as Dad's Army and Galton and Simpson.
There is a trend now as we have acres of television to fill to go back to the old programmes particularly as they are declared to be classics and see how they were written and produced. When Fawlty Towers was on we only had a few television stations so you were fairly certain that most people you knew had seen it. We didn't have the opportunity to video it or watch endless repeats in the same week like we have now.
We had to savour each episode. Now you can buy it on DVD and watch it to our heart's content.. I used to listen to the audio cassettes in my car as I loved the words and had seen the Aston so often I did not need to view it. I also bought the complete scripts and used to read them like a novel. If they are repeat it on television I will watch them again. I haven't bought the DVD as I do not want to spoil myself by allowing myself to watch them when ever I like. Saying which however there are loads of clips on You Tube to watch.
He covers the inevitable " Who was it based on?" Non writers always ask the question where did you get the idea from. The world is full of ideas. Also where it was filmed that is the exterior shots so you have the inevitable stories the real Basil Fawlty and the real Fawlty Towers. It is as though the public have to believe these things really exist and cannot just accept it was a fiction.
It John Cleese and Connie Booth had not written the fictional Fawlty Towers would anyone have been remotely interested in the real ones. NO. Even now people say of some bad service or due person "Just like Fawlty Towers"
He documents how how the programme was made and the actors got together. He then goes through each episode breakdown what it all meant. No fan of Fawlty Towers can ever get bored of hearing it all again.
It was interesting that now it is hailed as Britain's best sitcom that it was not universally praised at the time.The critics have no more skills in foretelling what is funny or will become a classic than a wall.
It is not so true now but the British were poor at complaining and becoming assertive and that was why they liked Basil as he was prepared to say what everyone else thought, that is guests are annoying and foreigners are funny.
When Basil snapped he put it well by saying that's how Nazi Germany started a lot of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble. I had fifteen years pandering to the likes of you and I have had enough.I've had it! Come on pack your bags and get out!
His best explanation of what has happened in the lines
Ladies and gentleman there have been a lot of cocks ups this morning and you all deserve and explanation and I'm happy to say that my wife will give it to you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
When he was pretending to forget his wife's birthday he cleverly goes through a list of days it might be Agincourt, Trafalgar, Crecy, Poitiers, Yom Kippur?
When Sybil points out all the problems he suggest she gos on to Mastermind Sybil Fawlty from Torquay Special subject The Bleeding obvious.
All great lines
I read the book in a day and although not an academic tome a feast for a Fawlty Towers fan .I will be revisiting the Fawlty Towers scripts and looking at the clips on You Tube and looking for more books by the author.
People like to believe that sitcoms write themselves and that actors are not really actors and Andrew Sachs was asked seriously after giving a talk about acting " "Have your always been a waiter?"
Worth a good four stars