As the cast of the popular sitcom were reunited for the 30th anniversary of the show, John Cleese said that the BBC originally dismissed Fawlty Towers as dire and that the producers did not think that the programme would appeal to viewers.
The first episode, written with his then wife Connie Booth, was rejected by the BBC.
He said: “There is a famous note which I have a copy of, I think it’s framed. Connie and I wrote that first episode and we sent it in to Jimmy Gilbert.
“The fellow whose job it was to assess the quality of the writing said, and I can quote it fairly accurately, ‘This is full of clichéd situations and stereotypical characters and I cannot see it as being anything other than a disaster’.
“And Jimmy himself said ‘You’re going to have to get them out of the hotel, John, you can’t do the whole thing in the hotel’. Whereas, of course, it’s in the hotel that the whole pressure cooker builds up.”
Source: John Cleese: BBC rejected First Episode of Fawlty Towers, Times Online, 6 May 2009. Check on this link to read the full story and a video of Fawlty Towers.
Another great story about Fawlty Towers is posted at this link:
Turning Frustrations into Fortunes, SFS, 8 May 2007.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Fawlty Towers reunion: Prunella Scales, John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs. Photograph courtesy of Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features and the Guardian.