Fawlty Towers

The key to good comedy is timing, someone once said. If that is the case John Cleese and Connie Booth must have the best sense of timing ever.

As the title suggests I am talking about ‘Fawlty Towers’ although it may seem there were hundreds of episodes, there were in fact only 12, spread over 2 seasons.

The first episode of Fawlty Towers aired on 19 September 1975. Audiences were keen to see what John Cleese would do after Monty Python, but at first the situation comedy received some less than enthusiastic reviews. However the strength of the writing and casting – with Cleese as hotelier Basil Fawlty – ensured the series was a great success.

The series is set in Fawlty Towers, a fictional hotel in the seaside town of Torquay on the English Riviera. The plots centre on the tense, rude and put-upon owner Basil Fawlty (Cleese), his bossy wife Sybil (Prunella Scales), the sensible chambermaid Polly (Booth) who often is the peacemaker and voice of reason, and the hapless and English-challenged Spanish waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs). They show their attempts to run the hotel amidst farcical situations and an array of demanding and eccentric guests and tradespeople.

The idea of the show came from Cleese after he stayed at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, Devon in 1970 (along with the rest of the Monty Python troupe), where he encountered the eccentric hotel owner Donald Sinclair.

Stuffy and snobbish, Sinclair treated guests as though they were a hindrance to his running of the hotel (a waitress who worked for him stated “it was as if he didn’t want the guests to be there”). Sinclair was the inspiration for Cleese’s character Basil Fawlty.

Fawlty Towers was written by Cleese with his wife Connie Booth. The shows were intricately plotted farces, and no dialogue was written until the plot had been finalised. The ensemble cast included Prunella Scales as Basil’s wife Sybil, and Andrew Sachs as the well-meaning but incompetent waiter Manuel. Booth provided an important element of sanity and calm as Polly the chambermaid.

Only 12 half hour episodes were ever made. The decision to stop making Fawlty Towers when it was at its creative height, leaving a distinct legacy, inspired later comedians such as Ricky Gervais. In 2000 Fawlty Towers was voted the best British television programme of all time in a BFI poll, above Cathy Come Home and Doctor Who.

There are so mamy hilarious moments I could pick, but this is my favourite. Who has never heard the expression “Don’t mention the war”

sources

https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/september/fawlty-towers/

Happy Birthday Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson on the 16th of June in Ulverston, Lancashire in England, 1890. His father was a vaudeville performer and this led Stan to being a stage performer too. He didn’t get much schooling and this resulted to the joining of Fred Karno’s Troupe where Stan understudied the future star, Charles Chaplin. In 1912 they went on a tour to America where Chaplin remained, but Stan went straight back to England. In 1916 he returned to the States and did an impersonation of Charlie Chaplin and the act was called “The Keystone Trio” and it was quite successful. What I find ironic is that although there is no doubt that Charlie Chaplin was a genius, his comedy dated badly. Whereas Stan Laurel’s comedy, and especially as part of the comedic duo Laurel and Hardy, it still is fresh today. It was actually quite progressive. The movie ‘Brats’ is about 2 dads staying at home, minding the children, while the wives are out for the night, this was in 1930.

He appeared with his comedy partner Oliver Hardy in 107 short films, feature films, and cameo roles. However what most people don’t realize is hat he appeared in 67 movies without Oliver Hardy, albeit it mostly short movies.

‘The Lucky Dog’ (1921) was the first film to include Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy together in a film: prior to them becoming the famous comedy duo of Laurel and Hardy. Although they appear in scenes together they play independently of each other. Stan is the star of the film and Ollie is only in a side role.

It was in 1925 that Hardy and Laurel had met again at the Hal Roach studios and at that point in time Laurel was directing movies at the studio with Hardy in the cast for a couple of years. Among these films were Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) and Wandering Papas (1926) written & directed by Stan Laurel and starring Babe who now acted under his real name, Oliver Hardy. In 1926 they began appearing together but not yet as a team. One of the directors at the Hal Roach studio known around the world as director of such great movies The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) and Going My Way (1944), Leo McCarey joined these comic geniuses and an immediate partnership unfolded. Laurel & Hardy had appeared as funny as they could be in Putting Pants on Philip (1927) which led them to stardom. They made films for another 20 years. Laurel & Hardy are now known as one of the best comedy teams. They retired from films in 1950. In 1953 they went on tour to England and Ireland for a farewell tour. where they performed in variety halls.

In the 2018 film Stan & Ollie, Steve Coogan portrayed Laurel.

There are very few people who can make you laugh just by looking at their face, but such was the genius of Stan Laurel, his expressions were enough to get you in a burst of laughter.

Of course there was much more to his comic genius than just his face. One of my all time favourite quotes comes from the aforementioned Laurel & Hardy movie Brats. ” You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead”

A few moments before he died , on February 23,1965, he told his nurse ” I would like to go skiing” The nurse said “I didn’t know you were a skier” . he replied ” I am not, but I’d rather to that than this”.

He also had said ” If anyone cries at my funeral, I will never speak to them again” Until his last breath he remained a funny man.

At his funeral service at Church of the Hills, Buster Keaton said, “Chaplin wasn’t the funniest. I wasn’t the funniest; this man was the funniest.” He was interred in Forest Lawn–Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Dear Sir. thank you so much for making me laugh and making me realize how important humour is, to get through life.

I wish you a very Happy Birthday

sources

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0491048/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Tommy Cooper in World War 2

“I got the military cross. Mind you, I got the Navy a bit annoyed as well!” is just one of those classic one liners from the legendary Tommy Cooper,

He was one of my all time favourite comedians, and despite what people may think he actually was a talented magician. But there is so much more to the man.

He was born on the 19th of March 1921, at 19 Llwyn On Street, Trecenydd in Caerphilly, Wales . His father was a Welshman, , was as a recruiting sergeant for the British army, later coal miner . His mother, Gertrude, was English, coming from Crediton in Devon. The Coopers did not own the house but were merely lodging there. Apparently, in those pre-maternity hospital days, Tommy was born at home and the owner of the house acted as the midwife for the birth. To escape from the heavily polluted air of Caerphilly, Tommy’s dad accepted a new job and the family moved to Exeter, Devon, when Cooper was three.

In 1940 he was called up as a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. He joined Montgomery’s Desert Rats in Egypt.

After a short while, his reconnaissance unit was sent to North Africa working in conjunction with armoured cars and tanks. He then lost his A1 rating after he received a gunshot wound to his left arm. This allowed him to audition, with great success, for the army concert party.

He became the Horse Guards boxing champion, he was so good that he was offered a contract to turn pro.​

While serving, he travelled to Egypt and began to develop his act incorporating the now iconic trademark fez.​
His famous red fez was introduced rather luckily during a NAAFI concert. The concert took place in a Y.M.C.A. in Cairo. Tommy was going to wear his pith helmet but he had somehow mislaid it. Quick as a flash he “borrowed” an Egyptian waiter’s hat instead. during the audition, his trick went wrong. But the panel were in hysterics and said that should be his act.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

His life ended tragically though. On April 15 1984 he died in front of a live television audience.

The comedian was performing on the London Weekend Television show called Live From Her Majesty’s. While on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Westminster, London, he slumped down and subsequently collapsed.

Initially the host assumed it was part of the act and so did the audience. The audience erupted in laughter assuming it was all part of the joke. After his initial collapse, he slowly fell back onto the stage curtains.

However, the show’s director recognised something was very wrong, and switched to an unplanned break. Tommy was pulled from the curtains and efforts were attempted to revive him backstage. He was pronounced dead at arrival at Westminster Hospital.

But the show continued, and Les Dennis and Dustin Gee were two of the proceeding acts.

Although I did not go into the comedy of Tommy Cooper in this blog. I could not end it without one of his famous gags. “Spoon, Jar, Jar, Spoon”



sources

https://www.entertainmentdaily.co.uk/tv/did-tommy-cooper-die-on-stage-and-how-old-was-he/

https://www.tommy-cooper.com/horse-guards