The British Sitcom Guide


Basil Fawlty
played by John Cleese
Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)

Basil, the hotel manager from hell, is convinced that Fawlty Towers would be a top-rate establishment, if only he didn't have to bother with the guests. They always seem to get in the way and make unreasonable demands.

The only guests not greeted with a barrage of insults, are those with a title. An inveterate snob, prepared to brown-nose anyone with a bit of breeding, Basil is unfortunately an appalling judge of character.

Basil Fawlty who is so masterfully played by Monty Python star John Cleese, is without a doubt one of British Sitcom's greatest characters.

Sybil Fawlty
Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales)

With her truly distinctive laugh (strangely similar to 'someone machine-gunning a seal') and her endless phone calls to her friend Audrey, Sybil is a worthy opponent for Basil. He can be in full, ranting flow, but one sharp "Basil!" from her is all it takes to bring him to heel. A stranger to menial tasks, Sybil sees her role as socialising with the guests, ordering Basil around and humiliating him in public.

played by Connie Booth
Polly (Connie Booth)

Polly the waitress is really an art student, working to supplement her grant. She is the only sane member of the team. With an impressive ability to think on her feet, she is always on hand to help Basil out of his worse scrapes. Whether it's impersonating a poorly Sybil, or explaining away dead bodies hidden in laundry baskets, Basil definitely couldn't cope without her.

played by Andrew Sachs
Manuel (Andrew Sachs)

Manuel, the waiter from Barcelona, is a walking disaster. Hired by Basil because he is cheap, his command of English is so slight that he finds it hard to tell the difference between the words 'Sybil' and 'the bill'. Most of Basil's exasperated commands are met with the plaintive cry: "Que?"

Despite being used from time to time as a human battering ram and punch bag, Manuel remains devoted to Basil.

Other Regular Characters
Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley)
Major Gowen

The forgetful, retired Major was a permanent guest at Fawlty Towers. He could often be seen wandering aimlessly around the hotel, having a drink at the bar, asking Basil if the papers had arrived (which were always late) or mumbling something or other about the cricket.

Abitha Tibbs (Gilly Flower) and Ursula Gatsby (Renee Roberts)
Abitha Tibbs and Ursula Gatsby

Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby, permanent residents, were a typical pair of old ladies. They could be relied upon to get in the way and natter for England. They also seemed unable to detect Basil's frequent sarcastic remarks aimed at them.

Terry the Chef (Brian Hall)
Terry (the chef)
(Series 2)
played by Brian Hall

Terry, the chirpy cockney chef was introduced in the second series. He was no master cook but knew how to deal with Basil.

The Guests
The Guests

Many guests visited Fawlty Towers. These included...

"Lord" Melbury (played by Michael Gwynn)
Mr O'Reilly (played by David Kelly)
Mr. Hutchinson (played by Bernard Cribbins)
André (played by André Maranne)
Mrs. Richards (played by Joan Sanderson)
Dr. Abbott (played by Basil Henson)
Dr. Price (played by Geoffrey Palmer)
Mr. Carnegie (played by John Quarmby)

Click here for a full list of all 75 guest stars


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