Fawlty Towers: The Wedding Party (BBC2, 3 October 1975, John Howard Davies)

FawltyTowers1-3_63

These reviews reveal plot twists.

On a hot summer’s night, the tension bubbles over and Basil jumps to some conclusions about his fun-loving guests…

Hotel sign: FAW TY TOWER, with a wonky second W.

STAFF:

* Sybil enjoys flirting with a hotel guest at the bar and laughs ostentatiously at his jokes. (Basil compares the sound to someone machine-gunning a seal.) She’s also having to cope with unseen best friend Audrey’s marriage breakdown. After planning to spend the night with Audrey, Sybil returns home early and surprises Basil, who thinks she’s flirty guest Mrs Peignoir knocking on his bedroom door.

* Basil, while being irritated by Sybil’s manner with a male guest, is simultaneously enjoying the attention of Mrs Peignoir. However, some new guests in an even more sexual mood irritate him further. He mentions that he fought in the Korean War and killed four men (Sybil adds that he was a caterer and poisoned them). Basil is later seen by guests Alan and Jean in an accidentally compromising position with Mrs P, so he hysterically tries to laugh it off. Moments later, Alan finds him rolling around on the floor with a drunk Manuel. (Alan assumes gayness.) Basil misses the key information that the two couples staying at the hotel – Jean and Alan, Philip and Rachel – are one family and old friends of Polly’s. So when he sees Philip hugging Jean, then Polly coming out of Alan’s room, he concludes that lots of sex is going on. He decides to fire Polly and chuck the guests out. When Sybil tells him what’s really going on, he has a lot of humble pie to eat…

* Polly arrives arm-in-arm with a date, who snogs her over the reception desk. This displeases Basil, who’s also angry that she keeps leaving suggestive sketches lying around. As mentioned, she’s knows several guests but Basil doesn’t realise the connection.

* Manuel is celebrating his birthday. Basil and Sybil have given him an umbrella as a present; in his aborted thank-you speech, he reveals that he’s left a mother, five brothers and four sisters back in Spain. He goes out on the town, but returns paralytic and accidentally knocks Basil to the ground then pokes him in the eye. The next day he’s so hungover that Basil stashes him in a wicker basket.

NOTABLE GUESTS:

* The Major complains of the heat.

* Mrs Peignoir (Yvonne Gilan) is a flighty Frenchwoman who’s an antique dealer (she deals in antiques – it’s not that she’s frightfully old or anything). She’s taken a shine to Basil and, after returning to the hotel tipsy at 11.15pm, needs to be let in. She then embarrasses/excites Basil by telling him she’ll sleep au natural due to the humid weather.

* Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby think Basil is getting taller.

* Jean (April Walker) and Alan (Trevor Adams) are an amorous and giggly young couple who have booked a double room despite not being married. This pisses Basil off, who claims it’s illegal. Their constant suggestive language and sexy behaviour also annoy him. Unseen by Basil, we learn that Jean is a friend of Polly’s.

* Rachel (Diana King) and Philip Lloyd (Conrad Phillips) are Jean’s mum and stepdad – Basil fails to spot the connection. The two couples are in Torquay for a wedding.

OTHERS:

* Richard Turner (uncredited) is Polly’s date, who’s only seen briefly at the start. Basil disapproves of them kissing in the lobby, sarcastically suggesting to Pol that she’s turning the hotel into a massage parlour.

A SELECTION OF THE BEST GAGS:

* Basil apologises for Sybil’s raucous laugh: “I’m afraid her local finishing school was bombed.”

* Basil reprimands Polly for wearing a skimpy top then absentmindedly answers the phone: “Hello? Fawlty Titties.”

* Jean asks if her hotel room is airy. An irascible Basil replies, “Well, it’s got air in it.”

* Polly, Jean and Alan totally ignore Manuel as he carries their bags upstairs. So he throws their key into the room after them.

* Basil’s misunderstanding with Alan over why the latter needs a late-night chemists. There isn’t one open nearby. “Bit of a blow, I imagine,” Basil snipes before Alan explains it’s because he wants batteries for his electric razor.

* Sybil’s on the phone to friend Audrey and is saying, “Oh, I know…” over and over again. “Why is she telling you, then?!” snaps Basil.

* Manuel with a hangover, barely able to walk.

* Basil’s increasingly desperate attempts to prevent Rachel seeing her husband with Jean or Polly. (This run of scenes involves our first ever look at the hotel’s kitchen.)

* Basil: “I want to see you at reception in one minute in your hat and coat!” Polly: “Will they fit you?”

* Basil’s 15-second pause as the realisation sinks in that he’s cocked things up.

* Basil runs up to see the guests, repeating “I’m so sorry, I’ve made a mistake,” to himself. When he opens the room’s door, he announces, “I’m so sorry, my wife has made a mistake.”

* “Oh, what a terrible dream!”

Outside? There’s no exterior filming: this is the first episode to take place entirely inside the hotel.

Dated: Alan gives a shocked look *to camera* when he thinks Manuel and Basil are engaging in some homosexual high jinks.

Henry Kissinger: The famous-people references are highbrow this week. Basil listens to some classical music and Mrs P says she too likes Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). She then mentions Lord Byron (1788-1824).

Review: Sex. Heat. Middle-class frustration and hypocrisy. The ingredients are there for a classic farce. And it’s a supremely structured plot, full of comic misunderstandings and moments where the audience is pleasingly ahead of the characters. However, because the story is built on Basil drawing some pretty illogical conclusions, the situation is perhaps not as believable as the best episodes. Still funny as hell, though.

Eight Jaws paperbacks out of 10

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