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Original "Fawlty Towers" is saved
John Cleese and Prunella Scales
John Cleese and Prunella Scales as Basil and Sybil Fawlty
The inspiration behind Fawlty Towers has been saved from demolition by councillors in Torbay, who've thrown out plans to convert the Gleneagles Hotel into flats. The hotel was where John Cleese stayed in the early 1970s while with the Monty Python team.
Basil Fawlty feature

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There were only ever 12 episodes made of Fawlty Towers.

They were first shown in 1975 - 1979.

The story goes that John Cleese got the inspiration for Fawlty Towers after staying in Torquay while filming scenes for Monty Python's Flying Circus.


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The Torquay hotel that inspired the classic BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers has been saved from demolition.

Torbay Council decided it would be against its tourism policy to replace the Gleneagles Hotel in Asheldon Road with a block of 25 flats.

There was also concern over the size of the planned development.

John Cleese stayed at the hotel in 1971 and was fascinated with the eccentric behaviour of owner Donald Sinclair.

Cleese later described Mr Sinclair - who died in 1981 - as "the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met."

John Cleese as Basil
Fawlty Towers - based on the Gleneagles Hotel in the early 70s
The Monty Python team stayed in the hotel while they were filming in Torquay. Mr Sinclair is said to have thrown Eric Idle's suitcase out of the window thinking it was a bomb.

He is also said to have told off Terry Gilliam for not straightening his cutlery on the plate after he had eaten.

However, Mr Sinclair's widow, Beatrice, has said her husband was totally misrepresented in the comedy.

In August this year, developers described the building as "unattractive with little architectural merit" and offered to turn it into flats.

The developers, Midas Homes, contacted the hotel's owner, Ray Marks, about buying the property and converting it into apartments.

However, Mr Marks says he doesn't mind whether the hotel is converted or not and is happy for it to remain as a hotel.

And he said all the publicity was good for business: "All it does is add value to my hotel. The more times it features in the news, the more people who came and stay here," he said.

An employee at the hotel told the BBC that the 25 staff were "delighted" the hotel was not being torn down, and said the hotel - which has been put up for sale - "will be open for business as normal."

He said the hotel still got a lot of customers who wanted to stay at the hotel because of its connection to the comedy.

Fawlty Towers has proved to be one of the most enduring sitcoms in TV history. Despite only running for 12 episodes in 1975-79, it regularly tops polls of favourite TV shows.

Article first published: 9th October 2003

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