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Fawlty Towers

Season 1 Episode 2

The Builders

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Sep 26, 1975 on BBC Two
out of 10
User Rating
106 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Polly and Manuel are left to run the hotel when Basil and Sybil take a holiday and they must oversee the renovation of the lobby by an unreliable builder.

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  • Seems like the episodes are getting better!

    My first perception of this episode is that the position of the doors for the dinning room are further away from the stairs, it later became apparent that this was necessary for this episode so that there was enough room to fit the 2nd door to go to the kitchen.

    Manuel has much more make up on than last time, he looks so much darker. However, I think his character has come out of its shell, so to speak. I just love Manuel's monkey-like characteristics.

    Do you think Jim Carey took some of the traits from Fawlty into this act? Good possibility, I think; especially when he was breaking down crying!moreless
  • very funny

    The Fawltys take a holiday and leave Polly and Manuel to run the place just as O'Reilly's builders come to redo the lobby. But O'Reilly is not a very trust worthy builder and as Manuel doesnt want to wake Polly when they come he takes charge and it turns out to be a disaster.:D
  • Bloody Brilliant.

    This is another high point of the fawlty towers series. Sible Fawlty is at her best in this episode when O'reilly says "I like a woman with spirit" Sible then proceeds in beating him with her umbrella saying "You like a woman with spirit?! really?! give us a smile then O'reilly!" The scene where basil thinks he has got the better of Sible is good as well.

    However the funniest part is when Basil instructs Manuel to call one of the burly irish builders "A big hairy oragutan", the builder is not happy. This episode almost floored me with laughter. Lung rupturingly funny.moreless
  • Basil vs. His Wife

    This episode is fine example for the relationship of Basil and his wife. Mrs. Fawlty is a dominating woman and the result is hilirious.

    Basil scared of his wife panics and experiences a nervous brake-down.

    Manuel has a great moment as he temporarilty has control over the hotel but doesn't know a word of English.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • When Sybil says "Now if you'll excuse me i have to speak to a professional builder", you can hear how it has been dubbed, also the words don't match her lips.

    • When Polly shows the Major the new door to the dining room, you can see the shadow of the boom mic next to them.

    • Other Mistake: When Stubbs is inspecting the new kitchen door, the camera wobbles around quite a bit.

    • Basil smashes Manuel's head against the door that's been blocked off. Clearly it's just a piece of scenery as it quivers like it was made out of cardboard.

    • At the start Basil and Sybil come downstairs and Basil says he is going to put the things in the car. Sybil comes over to Polly at reception and in the background Basil can be seen turning directly to the right when he gets outside, even though the car park is directly down the stairs.

    • When Mr O'Reily's work is examined by Mr Stubbs, the new wall blocking the kitchen and dining rooms can be seen to move about quite a bit.

    • When Basil rushes outside to meet Sybil he has one more shirt button undone than when inside.

    • Both of George Lee's roles were as a delivery man, first in 'The Builders' (series one episode two), where he delivers the garden gnome to the hotel. His second appearance was as Mr Kerr in 'Communication Problems' (series two episode one). Here he delivers Mrs Richards' vase and her missing money.

    • Revealing : O'Reilly is offered a cup of tea the first time we see him. We see him trying to drink it, but it's obvious the cup is empty. The way they wave the cup around the tea would have spilled all over the place.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Miss Gatsby: And don't do anything we wouldn't do!

    • Sybil: O'Reilly, I have seen more intelligent creatures than you lying on their backs at the bottoms of ponds. I have seen better organized creatures than you running round farmyards with their heads cut off. Now collect your things and get out. I never want to see you or any of your men in my hotel again.

    • Sybil: Why did I trust you, Basil? Why did I let you make the arrangements? I could have seen what was going to happen! Why did I do it?
      Basil (tries to lend a comforting hand): Well, we all make mistakes dear.
      (Sybil swats the hand away, then heads toward the front desk.)
      Sybil: I'm sick to death of you! You never learn, do you? (shouts) You NEVER, EVER LEARN! (throws a small steel bank at Basil; Basil dodges) We have used O'Reilly three times in the last year and each time it has been a fiasco! (points outside) That wall out there is still not done! You got him into change a washer in November and we didn't have any running water for two weeks!
      Basil: Well, he's not exactly a plumber, dear.
      Sybil: Well then, why did you hire him? Because he's cheap!
      Basil: I wouldn't call him 'cheap,' Sybil!
      Sybil: What would you call him, then?
      Basil: Well, cheap-ish.
      Sybil: And the reason he's 'cheap-ish' is, (shouts) HE'S NO BLOODY GOOD!
      (She kicks Basil in the shin)
      Basil (wincing in pain): Sybil, you do exaggerate. He's not brilliant.
      Sybil (still shouting): 'Not brilliant?' He belongs in a zoo!
      (kicks Basil's other shin)
      Basil: Sybil, you never give anyone the benefit of the doubt!
      (O'Reilly overlooks.)
      Sybil: He's shoddy, he doesn't care, he's a liar, he's incompetent, he's lazy, he's nothing but a half-witted, thick Irish joke!

    • Basil: (on phone) If you're not over here in twenty minutes with my door, I shall come over there and insert a large garden gnome in you. Good day.

    • O' Reilly: Now Mr Fawlty, if the Good Lord-
      Basil: Is mentioned once more I shall move you closer to him!

    • O'Reilly: Now, Mr Fawlty. If the Good Lord wanted us to worry, he'd give us something to worry about.
      Basil: He HAS! My wife!! She'll be here in 4 hours; and she can kill a man at 10 paces with one blow of her tongue.

  • NOTES (4)

    • This is the first episode to show the upstairs of the hotel.

    • According to the DVD interviews this is one John Cleese's least favourite episodes of the series due to the lack of laughter from the audience during recording but it turns out a large proportion of the audience were visitors from the Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation who didn't quite understand what was going on.

    • In talking to Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby, Basil reminds them of having dinner at the Gleneagles. That was the infamous hotel that Donald Sinclair had run (see Intro). Fawlty Towers was clearly different from the Gleneagles, as all of the exterior shots of Fawlty Towers were filmed in Bournemouth.

    • Opening scene sign: FAWLTY TOWER (L is hanging and S is missing)


    • The music Basil plays when Sybil returns is "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from The Nutcracker ballet composed by Tchaikovsky.

    • Basil: Well, whose fault is it then, you cloth - eared bint - Denis Compton's?!!

      Denis Compton was a famous English cricketer and footballer.