A to Z guide to Fawlty Towers
See also the Fawlty Towers concordance sent in by a fan.
A is for…
Abbott: The psychiatrist who thinks Basil is "enough material for an entire conference".
Andre: Local restaurateur Andre gives Basil a help to make his Gourmet Night a success but Basil still manages to turn it into a disastrous evening.
Audrey: Sybil's best friend, often mentioned but seen only once (I think).
Basil: Who else?
Barcelona: I think it was mentioned once or twice that one of the staff was from this city.
Builders: Does Basil hire the ones who will do a good job, but be expensive; or the cheap ones who give a guarantee: to mess things up? What do you think?
Butter: "There is too much butter on those trays".
Communication Problems: Many people's favourite episode and one of the cleverest. The title doesn't just refer to Basil's trouble with the deaf Mrs Richards, just think of all the instances of communication problems throughout the episode.
Cricket: the only thing in the Major's life that was more important than the arrival of the papers.
Dragonfly: Basil won some money on a horse in Communication Problems, what was it called again?
Elwood Avenue: No. 16 was the address mentioned once as the address of Fawlty Towers (see W)
Farce: The episodes are just little farces according to John Cleese.
Fawlty? What's wrong with him?, asked Alice Richards in Communication Problems.
Gatsby (and Tibbs): The two old ladies — permanent residents.
Gee-Gees: The British colloquialism for horses or horseracing. Basil's secret bet on the gee-gees in Communication Problems causes him a lot of grief when he has to keep the winnings from falling into Sybil's hands.
Germans: Not the Major's favourite people.
Gleneagles: The now infamous real hotel that inspired John Cleese and Connie Booth to pen Fawlty Towers.
Garden Gnome: In the closing scene of The Builders, Basil is seen leaving with a garden gnome under his arm. He's heading to visit Mr O'Reilly, and I'll leave it you to imagine where he is going to stick the garden gnome.
Guests: You can't have a hotel without guests… Basil would have liked it though.
Hamster: Or so Manuel thought. But his pet was really a rat… called Basil!
Harry Hamilton: He who wants a Waldorf Salad.
India: The Major took a girl to see India once… at the Oval (it's an English cricket ground).
Insults (So many they have their own page): They flew thick and fast between Basil and Sybil.
Johnson (Mr): Basil spent the whole episode of The Psychiatrist trying to catch Mr Johnson with a girl in his room, even resorting to climbing up a ladder to the window from outside, but he got the wrong room!
JP: In Gourmet Night, Basil boasts that Colonel and Mrs Hall are both J.P.s. Most British people will know what a JP is, but for the benefit of others it means Justice of the Peace (noun) a lay magistrate appointed to preserve the peace in a county, town, etc. hear minor [court] cases, grant licenses, etc.
Kippers: A guest dies during the night. Unfortunate, but these things happen in the hotel trade, especially when they get a helping hand from some dodgy kippers.
Krakatoa: When Mrs Richards complains about the view, Basil sarcastically retorts with a quip about Krakatoa not erupting for her enjoyment.
Kurt: Basil brought in outside help to make his Gourmet Night a success, but Kurt the Greek chef got legless after Manuel spurned his amorous advances. Add guests, a duck and a big pink blancmange, simmer for half-an-hour and you have the perfect recipe for disaster!
Leeman: A friend of John Cleese called Andrew Leeman told Basil that the worst situation they faced when he worked at the Savoy was getting rid of the "stiffs" i.e. guests who had died during the night. The Kipper and the Corpse was the result of that conversation.
Major Gowen: It wouldn't have been the same without Ballard's excellent portrayal of the doddery old Major.
Manuel: The dependable waiter who was the frequent subject of attack from Basil.
Mastermind: It's a British TV quiz show on which four contestants firstly face two minutes of questions on their own chosen specialised subject, and then two minutes of general knowledge questions. No flashy gimmicks, no huge prizes; just dimmed lights, a black leather chair and the legendary Mastermind music (it's called Approaching Menace).
Melbury: His lordship asks Basil to look after his valuables in the first ever episode. Basil is happy to — until he finds out he has been conned. The briefcase contained some highly-prized house bricks!
Moose: Basil has to endure a moose head falling on top of him in The Germans. The moose head also appears in a memorable scene in which it appears to Major Gowen as if it is talking to him!
Nothing: "I know nothing!" boasts Manuel, thinking he is helping Basil out of a tight spot. Contrary to previous instruction, Basil now wants Manuel to spill the beans.
Orang-utan: Manuel's innocent remark to one of the builders earned him a punch in the face, thanks to Basil's cruel streak.
O'Reilly: Torquay's worst builder. But, he is cheap, so Basil hires him to carry out some structural alterations to the hotel.
Paella: Manuel is making a special paella for Basil and Sybil's wedding anniversary, but Terry the chef isn't too happy that he doesn't get the chance to prove his skills at making one. It ends in chaos as Terry and Manuel roll around the kitchen floor in a fight.
Peignoir (Mrs): The flirty Frenchwoman has romantic intentions towards Basil in The Wedding Party.
Polly: She did everything. Waitress, receptionist, chamber maid, even impersonating Sybil in The Anniversary.
Ratatouille: Poor Manuel! He thinks chef has added Basil (his pet) to the recipe for ratatouille in the final episode.
Rats: They are the last thing you want running around when there is a public health inspector (literally) sniffing around. The very final scene in Fawlty Towers stars Basil the Rat poking his nose out from a biscuit tin at the health inspector. "Care for a rat?" asks Basil.
Shotgun: Major Gowen strides purposefully into the bar on the hunt for vermin… "sitting there on that table, eating the nuts if you please."
Sinclair: Basil Fawlty was a character based on a previous owner of The Gleneagles in Torquay. The Python team stayed there and were the subjects of Fawlty-esque rudeness from a Mr Sinclair who went to his grave dubbed "The real Basil Fawlty", and his family were not amused!
Stubbs: The man to call when you want building work done properly. He'll do a good job on time; a little more expensive than some, which is why Basil hires O'Reilly — with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Swanage: A town along the coast from Torquay. Basil was born there.
Sybil: Basil's long-suffering wife.
Terry: The chef who appeared throughout series two. Brian Hall, who played Terry, died at 59 in 1997.
Twitchen: How do you introduce someone called Twitchen to someone with a facial twitch? If you're Basil, you don't, you pretend to faint instead.
Umbrella: Used by Sybil to whack the incompetent O'Reilly builder.
Unions: Strikes were often mentioned in the show and were frequent occurrences in "real life" at that time, even causing the final episode to be delayed for months.
Veal substitute: Basil gets posh Ronald's dander up in Basil the Rat when all he has to offer is veal substitute.
Waldorf Salad: Poor Basil's was baffled when asked for a Waldorf Salad. It's named after the famous Waldorf hotel but Basil thought it might refer to a walnut that's gone off!
Watt! Thanks to Manuel, Mrs Richards thinks Basil is a Mr Watt.
Wooburn Grange Country Club: Not Elwood Avenue, the real location of the exterior was in Buckinghamshire at Wooburn Grange Country Club which is no longer there. It caught fire and had to be demolished and private houses were built in its place.
Xenophobic: Thank you Basil for being a bit xenophobic else I might have got stuck on X.
Xerxes: One of Mr Leeman's three business colleagues in The Kipper and The Corpse. They had surnames beginning with X, Y and Z for some strange reason.
Yobbos (or Yobboes): Basil to Sybil in The Hotel Inspectors, "Look, if you think I'm going to fawn to some of the yobboes we get in here…". A "yob/yobbo" is a British colloquialism for a lout or hooligan. The yobbos Basil was referring to were the hotel guests! Thanks to MJ for this one.
Young (Miss): Another of Mr Leeman's colleagues in The Kipper and The Corpse
Zebedee: The third of Mr Leeman's business associates.
Ze War: See, didn't mention it once! Whoops! Sorry!