Fawlty Towers guest stars short biographies

Trevor Adams

Trevor Adams as Alan in The Wedding Party episode of Fawlty Towers

Trevor Adams played Alan in The Wedding Party and immediately gets on the wrong side of Basil by intending to share a room with his girlfriend Jean, whom he pretends to be married to. The prudish Basil tries his best to thwart their intentions but is easily overruled by Sybil. Trevor Adams other credits include an early 1970s sketch show named What Are You Doing After The Show? but he was probably best known for his role of Tony Webster in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. After some appearances in UK action drama The Professionals, it seems he decided to quit acting and study law, eventually working for various London law firms. An attempt was made to get back into acting in the 1990s but Trevor Adams died at a relatively young age in December 2000.

Bruce Boa

Who could forget loud, brash American guest Mr Hamilton and his penchant for Waldorf Salad and screwdrivers? Not many it seems. According to a February 2004 interview with Bruce Boa in British tabloid newspaper The Sun, no matter where he went, people were keen to chat to him about his role as Mr Hamilton. Bruce Boa's film roles included the seventies chiller The Omen, Bond film Octopussy, Full Metal Jacket and the bawdy comedy Carry On Emmannuelle. He also played General Rieekan in The Empire Strikes Back. His many TV credits include Dempsey and Makepeace, Hart to Hart and The Avengers. Born in Britain, but raised in Canada, Bruce Boa played professional football for the Calgary Stampeders before settling in England more than 45 years ago. He lived in London with his British wife until his death in April 2004.

My thanks to someone called Sue for informing me of the passing of Bruce, adding "He was a generous and warm hearted man who will be much missed."

Ken Campbell

The character of Roger, played by Ken Campbell in The Anniversary, seemed to delight in watching Basil squirm as he tried in vain to disguise the fact that he and Sybil had fallen out just before the guests arrived for their wedding anniversary party. Roger wasn't fooled and deliberately tried to make things difficult for Basil.

Ken Campbell starred in the BBC eighties sitcom In Sickness and in Health but always preferred writing and directing rather than acting. He was, apparently, a big fan of stuff like The Fortean Times and other strange phenomena, which explains why he worked with Basil Fawlty. You may also remember him from some TV ads and the British soap Brookside. Ken Campbell died on August 31, 2008. Obituary from The Guardian

James Cossins

Mr Walt, played by James Cossins, first encountered Basil Fawlty at reception in The Hotel Inspectors, when he was told by Basil to P.Off! Charming. Basil soon found out that Mr Walt was a hotel inspector (he wasn't) and began grovelling to him at every opportunity. Outside of Fawlty Towers, James Cossins appeared in many films and British sitcoms but none as well known as FT. The actor James Cossins should have been awarded a medal for trying to teach the art of public relations to Frank Spencer in an episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. James Cossins died in 1997, aged 63.

Bernard Cribbins

Ol' Bernard Cribbins is one of the most familiar faces to British viewers ever to lock horns with Mr Fawlty. Basil's sudden change in character is legendary once he finds out Mr Hutchison is a spoons salesman not a hotel inspector. Bernard's portrayal of the infuriating guest who never used one word when twenty would suffice was a televisual feast unsurpassed since a BBC2 documentary on Squawking Bird, the leader of the Blackfoot Indians in the late 1860s. British comedy veteran Bernard Cribbins can count three Carry On films and Doctor Who big screen effort Daleks — Invasion Earth 2150AD amongst his many film credits. Bernard Cribbins, surprisingly, has also appeared several times in the UK pop charts and his career in films and TV spans the last fifty years — he has been an actor since the age of 14.

Michael Cronin

Michael Cronin in The Builders episode of Fawlty Towers

BULLET!! A familiar warning shout around the environs of Grange Hill whenever Geoff "Bullet" Baxter appeared in his compulsory tracksuit that all sports masters must wear — permanently! Michael Cronin (right) turned up four years earlier in The Builders playing Irish workman Spud Lurphy. Michael Cronin is now beginning a career as a writer of children's books. Other television roles included Bergerac, Poirot and The Sweeney. Famously punched Manuel in the face after Manuel called him a "hideous orang-utan", which was a cruel trick played on Manuel by Basil.

Robin Ellis

The lives and loves of eighteenth-century Cornish folk in Poldark gave Robin Ellis his biggest TV role. The primetime BBC costume drama was a massive success when it was first aired in the 1970s with Robin Ellis playing the title role of Captain Ross Poldark. He had a few other television credits to his name but nothing as successful as Poldark. Robin Ellis appeared in the first ever FT episode A Touch of Class, playing undercover policeman Danny Brown on the trail of a conman. Basil considered Robin's character riff-raff, but then again, Basil thought almost everyone to be riff-raff.

UPDATE: Sept 2011. I received an email from Robin's wife who gave me some new info on Robin. He went to Cambridge University with John Cleese which is how he got the part in Fawlty Towers. He still acts occasionally (he was in the Swedish version of Wallander), and he has also just published a cookbook. Read more from Robin at his blog, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

Michael Gwynn

The first of many characters to incur the wrath of Basil was Michael Gwynn playing the phoney "Lord" Melbury. A briefcase full of house bricks were all it took to get Basil almost on his knees in deference to the aristocracy in A Touch of Class. Michael Gwynn died of a heart attack just a year after playing the role. Film credits included Revenge of Frankenstein and sci-fi cult classic Village of the Damned. On the small screen he appeared in The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and, like many other guest stars in FT — The Avengers.

Geoffrey Palmer

Clockwise and A Fish Called Wanda. The connection (other than John Cleese)? Yes, Geoffrey Palmer was also in both films. His list of film and TV credits is both long and varied, making him one of the more familiar faces from the long list of guest stars to appear in Fawlty Towers. His most prominent roles were undoubtedly playing alongside legend Leonard Rossiter in The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin and alongside Wendy Craig in Butterflies. Other TV appearances included shows from Doctor Who to The Liver Birds with many other popular shows also listed. Geoffrey Palmer often played the role of someone in authority and it was as a Doctor that he showed up in FT — unable to get any sausages cooked for him, he ended up cooking them himself! Before becoming an actor, Geoffrey Palmer rose to the rank of Corporal in the Royal Marines and he readily admits he loved that period of his life.

Luan Peters

Actress Luan Peters appeared in The Psychiatrist episode of FT as a busty blonde in a low-cut top. Luan Peters appeared in Hammer Horror classic (well, I like it anyway ;-)) Twins of Evil as a busty blonde in a low-cut top. She also turned up in Lust for a Vampire as a busty blonde in a… see a pattern? TV credits include a gamut of popular shows — everything from On The Buses and Doctor Who to The Professionals.

Joan Sanderson

The manager's faulty? What's wrong with him? — Joan Sanderson as Mrs Richards

Who could forget the deaf old bat Mrs Richards from Communication Problems, one of the best Fawlty episodes? The character, played by veteran British actress Joan Sanderson, was one of the toughest that Basil got to pit his wits against, and produced one of the most memorable scenes from the show, namely the "What did you expect to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window…?" scene. Joan Sanderson was arguably the biggest name out of the extensive list of guest stars to appear over the twelve episode run of FT with a list of television credits that included Please, Sir! and After Henry — in which she played Prunella Scales' mother! Film roles were diverse including appearing alongside a load of muppets; no, not a Fawlty Towers movie (there wasn't one) but The Great Muppet Caper. Joan Sanderson also enjoyed a long and successful career on the stage and she will be sadly missed… she died in 1992, aged 79. Internet Movie Database link for Joan Sanderson.

Una Stubbs

To most people, the actress Una Stubbs will be best remembered for two key television roles. She played Rita, the daughter of Alf Garnett, in both Till Death Us Do Part and the follow up In Sickness and Health. She also played "Aunt Sally" in the children's TV favourite Worzel Gummidge. Cup o' tea and a slice of cake anyone? In Fawlty Towers she featured as Alice, wife of Roger (Ken Campbell), in one of the least popular episodes: The Anniversary. Una Stubbs was also the Ladies team captain on Give Us A Clue. Her other TV credits include Happy Families, Casualty, Heartbeat and Midsomer Murders. One slightly unusual TV job involved Una appearing in an infommercial telling viewers how to tune into the new (in 1982) UK Channel 4. The most notable film role for Una Stubbs was arguably Summer Holiday, the Cliff Richard musical — a full sixteen years before she turned up at Fawlty Towers in 1979. No stranger to the limelight, Una Stubbs also appeared in a great many theatrical roles.

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