Residents of Torquay, England have always been able to brag about the shabby little 3-star hotel in their town that inspired John Cleese and Connie Booth to write the brilliant comedy series Fawlty Towers (1975-1979). The memories will always live on, but now the Hotel Gleneagles is being torn down.
The Real Basil Fawlty
In May 1970, the Monty Python crew checked into the Hotel Gleneagles in Torquay. The owner was a man named Donald Sinclair or, as Cleese described him to BBC Worldwide:
"He was the rudest man I've ever come across in my life. It was as though this hotel would run really well if we weren't constantly bothered by these guests."
Thus, Fawlty Towers was born.
While the rest of the Pythons switched to friendlier accommodations, Cleese was joined by his then-wife Connie Booth and the two collected material from the hotel's bizarre owner that would go into the pilot and later episodes of Fawlty Towers.
Although the Gleneagles was never actually featured on camera, it was the inspiration for all the hotel and customer service tension that made Fawlty Towers so funny.
Shortly after Cleese met them, the Sinclairs sold their hotel and moved to Florida. Since then the 41-bedroom hotel has changed hands several times, ultimately coming into the possession of Churchill Retirement Living, who will develop the property into 32 retirement apartments.
How do the residents of Torquay feel about losing the infamous hotel? Steven Morris of The Guardian interviewed some locals to find out. One resident, Nicola Hearn, put it this way:
“The town is known around the world because of Fawlty Towers. It all started with the Gleneagles hotel. It was a local landmark and I knew people that worked there after Mr Sinclair sold it. So it is sad to see it finally demolished – it’s the end of an era.”
More On Eccentric Mr. Sinclair
Cleese told another story about the hotelier from his time there with the Pythons:
"At dinner, Terry Gilliam — being of the American persuasion — was doing what Americans do: He cuts up meat like that, they put the knife there, take the fork in the right hand and then they spear the meat. And Mr. Sinclair was walking by, trying to avoid people's eye and look lofty, and he said, 'We don't eat like that in this country!' It was so astounding!"
You just can't make this stuff up. But if you could, Cleese and Booth did, for two series — 12 episodes total — of what The Telegraph and the British Film Institute have called the "best British TV ever."
What was your favorite joke from 'Fawlty Towers'?
Image Source: Fawlty Towers via GIPHY