Anagrams of Fawlty Towers – What is written on the sign in the title sequence?
What really rather rude phrase was the only full anagram for Fawlty Towers as shown in the titles of the seminal ’70s comedy? It was used in the last episode (meaning the eleventh, this show was about quality and not quantity), The Anniversary. All anagrams used in the title sequences of other episodes were only partial anagrams; that is, they did not use all the letters. So while Flay Otters and Watery Fowls are pretty cool, they only use some of the lyrics; To paraphrase Eric Morecambe, ‘they have used some of the letters, but not necessarily in the correct order’.
But what about Fawlty Towers? I guess it’s pretty well known that the Monty Python gang were in Torquay for a movie shoot and were staying at the Gleneagles hotel in town. Eventually all the other cast and crew members moved out, but John Cleese was so impressed by the behavior of the Gleneagles owner and manager, one Donald Sinclair, that he and his wife Connie Booth stayed. Of course, what they witnessed there (or claimed to have witnessed) has now become legend in the 12 half-hour episodes that make up the entire Fawlty Towers canon.
In addition to writing the series, Cleese and Booth took on two of the leading roles in Fawlty Towers, Basil Fawlty (the hotel owner) and Polly Sherman (maid and, of course, much more). Prunella Scales took on the role of Sybil, Basil’s wife, a strange mix of women, sometimes domineering, but at the same time suffering. The fourth and final leading role was that of Manuel, Fawlty’s Spanish waiter. This was taken over by German-born British actor Andrew Sachs. Using her own experience of learning English as a second language allowed Sachs to bring a real sense of Manuel’s vulnerability as a young man struggling to understand what the hell was going on in this dysfunctional place.
But what about the episodes themselves? Well, as I have already mentioned and as it is probably very well known, there were only twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers. They were shown weekly on BBC2 in two six-episode series. The first ran from September 19 to October 24, 1975. The second ran from February 19 to March 19, 1979 and the sixth and last episode was postponed until October 25 of that year due to a strike in the BBC. The first series brought us the delights of A Touch of Class; The builders; The wedding party; Hotel inspectors; Gourmet Night and of course, Los Alemanes. Series 2 contained communication problems; The psychiatrist; Waldorf salad; The herring and the carcass; The anniversary and last but not least, Basil the Rat. The best one for me has to be The Germans, a bit cliché maybe (from me) but what the heck, they’re all brilliant and one really should have to pick a favorite.