Fawlty Facts, Trivia and FAQs

Trivia and useful or useless information related to Fawlty Towers the series, the background to the series, the real life Fawlty Towers dotted around the globe etc.

Infrequently Asked Questions

Performance rights

If you want to do a stage play of any Fawlty Towers episode the subject of performance/licencing rights comes up. This is something I get asked quite often. I assume you would have to find someone (good luck!) in the vast behemoth that is the British Broadcasting Corporation and acquire permission, pay for theatrical rights etc.

How may episodes were there?

There were twelve! Two series of six each. Many people think there are missing episodes somewhere or swear blind they have seen other Fawlty Towers stuff. There was no film, no Christmas specials. Many years ago, there was a television commercial for Carte D'or wine starring Andrew Sachs as Manuel. The advert is now on the Manuel page.

Why did they not make any more episodes of Fawlty Towers?

John Cleese and Connie Booth (the co-writers) decided they had taken Fawlty Towers as far as they could so they quit whilst they were ahead. It was not because they divorced — their divorce was in 1976, between series one and two. This split was relatively amicable and they went on to write the second series together. Some plots for a Fawlty Towers film were discussed but this never came to fruition.

Where do I go to see the building that was used for the exterior shots?

You can't! A place called Wooburn Grange Country Club was used for the exterior, but it was badly damaged by fire and had to be demolished. Some houses have been built on the site now.

Polly, what have you done to my hotel?

The DVD box set has a "hidden" short film showing Wooburn Grange after the fire, this page shows how to access the clip and more about the fire and its aftermath.

Can I call my hotel/restaurant/hostel etc "Fawlty Towers"?

No, is the strictly legal answer. The BBC own the "Fawlty Towers" trade mark under several Classes which cover all sorts of things including computer games, calendars, clothing, etc. It is understandable, in my opinion, that they should restrict people from creating merchandise and profiting from the show. Class 42 covers use in the following areas: "Accommodation services; catering services; hotel, restaurant, cafe and bar services", so you can't [legally] use the name Fawlty Towers in any of those types of business without the permission of the BBC. The link earlier in this paragraph details the full list of goods and services covered by the trademark. There are plenty of establishments around the World using the name Fawlty Towers though.

What's the Fawlty Towers theme music called?

The theme music was composed by Dennis Wilson (he also composed the Rising Damp theme tune). As far as I know, it doesn't have a name other than Fawlty Towers theme tune. It was written specially for the show and taped a few days before the recording of the pilot episode. It was performed by Dennis Wilson and a string quartet at Studio R of CTS in Wembley, London on Thursday 19 Decemebr 1974. The theme tune has been released on several compilations of television theme music. You're best bet is to try searching on places like Amazon or Ebay for copies. Thanks to Andrew Pixley for much of the information about the theme tune.

What is a Borstal?

In The Hotel Inspectors, the phrase "…this is a hotel not a borstal" is spoken. A borstal, named after the location in Kent, England of the first one, is (or was) a young offenders institution infamous for its tough regime. Nowadays they give them all Sony Playstations and trips to Alton Towers.

Where does Manuel say that Basil is from?

In Communication Problems, Manuel tells Mrs Richards that Basil is from Swanage (a town on the South coast of England, East of Torquay) but because of his pronunciation it is unclear what he says.

What does Manuel say to Terry in Basil the Rat…

… when Terry asks him if he would like some Bearnaise sauce on the rat's steak? Manuel says "No, no, no. Is chostelerol." Note Manuel's off target attempt at pronouncing cholesterol.

What else was he/she in?

A lot of the guest stars in Fawlty Towers were in other TV programmes, some are mentioned in the episode guides on this site or e-mail me and see if I know. For example, one of O’Reilly’s builders was "Bullet Baxter" in kids school drama Grange Hill.

Which regiment did The Major belong to?

As far as I am aware, the army regiment which Major Gowen served in is never mentioned in any of the episodes, and I can find no mention of his regiment in any books etc. But, Fawlty Towers viewers have solved this query: see the bottom of Ballard Berkeley's page.

What is the piece of classical music in The Builders/The Wedding Party?

Towards the end of The Builders episode Basil presses play on a cassette player and the music on the tape is Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker ballet by Tchaikovsky. If anyone was curious to know the piano piece playing on Basil's cassette player in "The Wedding Party", it's Chopin's Nocturne Op. 27 No. 2. — Thanks to R McHugh for that.

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