Fawlty Towers

Season 1 Episode 1

A Touch of Class

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Sep 19, 1975 on BBC Two
out of 10
User Rating
112 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

An confidence trickster comes to stay at the hotel, just after Basil has taken an ad in a posh magazine to upgrade the clientele.

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  • Classic comedy! Not the best episode, but great to start

    I think I have watched this episode too many times and diluted its impact before I started this review. Thinking back to the first time I watched it, I loved the physical comedy and pace.

    Brilliant theme of the confidence trickster, similar to and episode of "Going Straight" with Ronny Barker. You do wonder how they come up with these intricate themes, every detail is panned out; from in interruptions, to the menu, not a detail is missed. I loved the part at the end when the guy comes in shouting his drinks order!!!

    Amazing how the time flies when you're having fun!moreless
  • very funny start to a new series

    Basil, in a effort to raise the class of guest at Fawlty Towers places an advert in the upper class magazine Country Life, much to the annoyance of Sybil who is not worried about the class of guests as long as they pay their bill.

    One of Basil upper class guests Lord Melbury, is not quite who he seems, and Basil is very nearly parted with £200 and his coin collection. Much to Basils disgust Lord Melburys plans are thwarted by one of the hotels lower class guests, who turns out to be a member of the police who Basil is insanely jealous of.moreless
Michael Gwynn

Michael Gwynn

Lord Melbury

Guest Star

Robin Ellis

Robin Ellis

Danny Brown

Guest Star

Martin Wyldeck

Martin Wyldeck

Sir Richard Morris

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • The police detective orders a half bottle of beaujolais wine with his lunch. Basil brings him what is clearly anything but a beaujolais wine (the shape of the bottle is not that of a wine from the burgundy/beaujolais region).

    • In this episode, Basil speaks on the telephone to a builder called Mr O'Reilly about an unfinished wall that he hired O'Reilly to build. O'Reilly actually makes an appearance in the next episode, 'The Builders,' and there are references to the unfinished wall during that episode, too.

    • Terence Conoley first appeared as Mr Wareing (The man who tried to order 'A gin and orange, a lemon squash and a scotch and water') in 'A Touch of Class (series one episode one). He reappears in 'Waldorf Salad' (series two episode three) as Mr Johnstone (whose wife's prawns were off).

    • This was the pilot episode of Fawlty Towers, as evidenced by the design of the word "PRIVATE" on the two office doors. Inside that office, Sybil reminds Basil the hotel has only 22 rooms available. Whether you count or discount the rooms in which the Major and the ladies live is immaterial. Subsequent shows have listed Fawlty Towers as a 26-room hotel.

    • When Basil brings in Lord Melbury's cases, they swap hands between the exterior and interior shots.

    • Throughout the episode the picture Basil is distracted from putting up has no glass covering on it. However, when he smashes it at the end you can hear the distinct sound of glass breaking.

    • The newspaper boy and the couple in a hurry leave the lobby and turn left outside the hotel. However we see later that the drive is on the right as you leave the lobby.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Sybil: (about Manuel) It'd be quicker to train a monkey.

    • Basil: What are you doing, Sybil?
      Sybil, I forbid you to open the safe. (she opens the safe)
      Sybil, I forbid you to take that case out. (she takes the case out)
      Sybil, do not open that case! I forbid it! (she opens the case).

    • Sybil: (to Basil) First you move that nice family in the middle of their meal and then you attack Lord Melbury with a chair.

    • Basil: Hello, Lord Melbury!....BASTARD!!

    • Sybil: Don't forget the menus.
      Basil: I beg your pardon?
      Sybil: Don't forget the menus.
      Basil: I thought you said you wanted— Right! I'll do the menu!
      (Basil puts the picture down, walks over to a typewriter and sits down.)
      Sybil: You would have had them both done by now if you hadn't spent the whole morning skulking in there listening to that racket.
      Basil: Racket? That's Brahms! Brahms's Third Racket!

    • Basil: Hello? - Ah, yes, Mr O'Reilly, well it's perfectly simple. When I asked you to build me a wall I was rather hoping that instead of just dumping the bricks in a pile you might have found time to cement them together ... you know, one on top of another, in the traditional fashion.

    • Mr Wareing: (very loudly) A gin and orange... a lemon squash... and a scotch and water *please*!!

  • NOTES (6)

    • In this episode Polly was initially a philosophy student but her character was changed to an art student at the last minute, this resulted in in several scenes having to be refilmed.

    • The theme music was composed by musician Dennis Wilson, the music was written specially for the show and taped a few days before the recording of this episode. It was performed by Dennis Wilson and a string quartet at Studio R of CTS in Wembley, London on Thursday 19 Decemebr 1974.

    • This was Michael Gwynn's (Lord Melbury) last ever role, he died three months after filming ended.

    • Gilly Flower as Miss Abitha Tibbs and Renee Roberts as Miss Ursula Gatsby are both present, but their lines are so diminutive that they are to be regarded as extras and accordingly they are not credited in this episode.

    • Andrew Sachs (Manuel) did the dubbing for his own character when the show was released in Germany.

    • Opening scene sign: FAWLTY TOWERS (S is hanging). The sign was much wider than it would be in later episodes. The font was different, too; it was fancier. This would change to a narrower, plainer, Times-like font later on.


    • The Major mentions that "D'Oliveira made the hundred". Basil D'Oliveira was a South African born cricketer who made his home in England. In 1968 he failed to be picked for the English national team's tour of South Africa, despite having scored 158 runs against Australia in the previous test. It was alleged that he was not picked for the tour because of his colour.