Basil’s prudish nature is outraged by what he perceives to be an outbreak of promiscuity at Fawlty Towers. Yet another terrible day for Basil ends with his apparent discovery by the guests in a compromising position with Manuel.

Fawlty Towers episode guide
#3: The Wedding Party

Series One, Episode Three — First shown 03 October 1975

A heatwave has hit the seaside resort of Torquay and as far as Basil Fawlty is concerned it has also led to a wave of low morals, especially where the opposite sex is concerned. Everybody seems to be getting a piece — exact Basil of course.

Two couples in town for a wedding, plus a flirtatious Frenchwoman and Manuel drunk on his birthday combine to bring out the worst in Basil's prudish nature. Basil always seems to get the wrong end of the stick as time after time he sees debauchery (by Torquay's standards) where there is none and the guests catch him in seemingly compromising positions with a tipsy Manuel causing him considerable embarrassment.

The Fawlty Towers bar is busy as Sybil chats to a guest and Mrs Peignoir takes a shine to Basil

The episode opens with Sybil flirting with a man at the bar in the Fawlty Towers lounge. This annoys Basil of course, as he thinks this sort of behaviour has no place in a hotel such as Fawlty Towers. Basil begins to think Torquay has been twinned with Sodom and Gommorah, as he catches Polly kissing an apparent stranger at reception, then soon after a couple walk in who get Basil's back up since the obviously unmarried couple intend to share a room.

Throughout The Wedding Party, Basil's embarrassment is heightened by the amorous attention paid to him by Mrs Peignoir, the French antiques dealer. Basil is constantly trying to play the prim and proper Englishman but Mrs Peignoir's continual flirting with him makes keeping up that persona more difficult that he would hope.

Basil's tendency to find more evidence of sleazy goings-on when there is really a perfectly normal explanation leads to another…

Classic Scene…

Basil lectures a guest about morals after he is asked if there is a chemists open

Alan (above), who was planning to share a room with his "wife", saunters down to reception and cautiously asks Basil if there is a chemist open! Basil immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion, but, unknown to Basil, the poor guy only wants batteries for his electric shaver! Basil soon puts an end to the guest's "disgusting" intentions by informing that all the chemists are shut for the evening. "Oh, well", enquires the new arrival, "I don't suppose you've got a couple…". Basil is outraged! "I only want some batteries," the guest points out to him. Basil's fervent imagination goes into overdrive. "You disgust me," fumes Basil. "I know what people like you get up to and it's disgusting". "What are you talking about? I only want some batteries for my electric shaver". The penny drops for Basil, and he attempts to save face by claiming it was of course disgusting that Alan hadn't shaved. No way did Basil have the wrong end of the stick — Oh no, not possible. Not Basil Fawlty.

Basil thinks that someone must have organised a “swingers” evening as every time he opens a bedroom door he finds various combinations of the guests (who are all, unknown to Basil, known to each other) either in each others arms or worse — in a state of undress. Well Basil can have none of this, after all it's against “the Law of England” as he pointed out to the young couple who wanted to share a room. Appalled by the sudden outbreak of promiscuity, he wants a complete clearout of the degenerates until Sybil informs him that everything is perfectly innocent, all the “swingers” are actually in town to attend a wedding and are all friends of Polly.

As usual, Basil has misread the situation and will have some explaining to do about his seemingly strange behaviour!

Even poor Polly had been ordered out, and Basil, who has now realised his mistake, is forced to save face once again as he informs Polly that she does indeed look very nice in the hat and coat he had ordered her to report to reception wearing! Basil then dashes upstairs to apologize to the guests and let them know they aren't being ejected after all, but unable to swallow his pride and apologize personally, he apologizes on Sybil's behalf — "My wife's made a dreadful mistake," admits Basil, sheepishly. "Yes, I think she probably did," quips a bemused guest.

The Fawlty's bedroom arrangements are revealed to the world -- separate beds

Above: Basil and Sybil's bedroom arrangements are revealed to the world — separate beds!

The hotel lobby…later that evening

Basil's troubles have hardly started — he has spent the entire episode trying to portray himself as prim and proper when the flamboyant Mrs Peignoir arrives back from a night out in Torquay with amorous intentions — towards Basil!

Basil, alone in reception, is listening to a little Chopin to unwind after the day's stressful events. It's just the mood music that Mrs Peignoir desires to fire up her passion for the bashful Basil! She asks where Sybil is as they begin to climb the stairs — Mrs Peignoir is in the room directly opposite the Fawlty's own bedroom — and according to Mrs Peignoir, the fact that Sybil is staying overnight to comfort Audrey after a split with a boyfriend, means the coast is clear for her and Basil to get frisky! Can Basil escape?!

Mrs Peignoir lures the reluctant Basil into her room to fix her window and seductively whispers to Basil that she will be sleeping au naturelle tonight! Basil escapes her clutches and with relief makes it to his own bedroom. Meanwhile, Sybil has arrived back at Fawlty Towers and hearing a loud bump from the kitchen, thinks they have a burglar — surely not!?

There is a knock at Basil's bedroom door just as Basil is getting undressed, it's Mrs Peignoir! Basil is relieved to hear she only wants an early morning wake up call but she lets him know he has left his cassette player in her room — was it because he wanted to come and get it in the middle of the night? — the naughty boy!

After hearing more strange noises from the kitchen, Sybil rushes upstairs. There is another knock at Basil's room door. Basil, thinking it's the Frenchwoman again, makes loud snoring noises. Sybil tries the door, but it's locked! Basil, thinking he is about to ravished by Mrs Peignoir, begins to panic. "Go away you silly tart, my wife's returned unexpectedly, she's in the bathroom, she'll hear us!" "This is your wife," urges Sybil! Basil has some explaining to do.

Classic Scene

"Oh what a terrible dream!" exclaims Basil, clutching at straws. "There's a burglar downstairs," says Sybil. Still in his underwear, Basil speeds downstairs. The reception is very dark and he doesn't recognize it is a drunk Manuel staggering out from the kitchen. Basil reaches into the kitchen for a frying pan to clout the "burglar" with, and Manuel collapses to the floor after a hefty blow. Basil sits astride him and is about to finish him off with another whack when he realizes it is poor Manuel he has almost killed. The reception lights go on and in walk all of Polly's friends who have returned from their Wedding Party. They are met with the sight of a half-dressed Basil sitting on top of his Spanish waiter — hardly the standard of behaviour Basil has been trying all day to portray. The guests go upstairs, thoroughly bemused at the day's shenanigans.

Basil lifts the frying pan high above his head to take his frustration out on the helpless Manuel!

Full cast list for The Wedding Party
Character Played by
Basil Fawlty John Cleese
Sybil Fawlty Prunella Scales
Polly Connie Booth
Manuel Andrew Sachs
Major Gowen Ballard Berkeley
Miss Tibbs Gilly Flower
Miss Gatsby Renee Roberts
Mrs Peignoir Yvonne Gilan
Mr Lloyd Conrad Phillips
Mrs Lloyd Diana King
Alan Trevor Adams
Jean April Walker
Bar Guest Jay Neill
Back to the top