Today in 1975 the BBC aired the first episode of “Fawlty Towers,” a landmark comedy series that was – amazingly – received about as poorly by TV executive and the public as Basil Fawlty’s appalling attitude was received by guests at his hotel. How did it finally get its due? Plus: AC/DC songs can get the bison of Yellowstone National Park. For bison about to rock, we salute you?
I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title (Letters of Note)
Today in 1975 the BBC aired the first episode of “Fawlty Towers,” a landmark comedy series that was, amazingly, received poorly at first, about as poorly by TV executive and the public as Basil Fawlty’s appalling attitude was received by guests at his hotel.
Writer and star John Cleese came up with the idea for Basil in 1971, when he and his colleagues in Monty Python were staying at a hotel while filming and were treated incredibly badly by the owner.
A few years later, he and co-writer Connie Booth (they were married at the time) started writing the series, with long scripts, the plots carefully laid out, the dialogue put together just right.
And yet, the first BBC script editor who read the pilot sent a scathing memo to BBC Television’s Head of Comedy and Light Entertainment. “I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title,” he wrote. “It’s a kind of ‘Prince of Denmark’ of the hotel world. A collection of cliches and stock characters which I can’t see being anything but a disaster.”
When the show first aired in 1975, the reviewers weren’t much kinder. “Long John Short On Jokes,” started one review. Cleese has described the initial response to the show as “puzzled.” The idea of watching a hotel owner yell at everyone was apparently ahead of its time.
But not by much. By the time the BBC re-aired the show, it had found its audience, an audience which wanted much more than the six episodes they’d produced.
Cleese and Booth would only write six more, and those four years later. They didn’t want too much of a good thing.
Or maybe they didn’t want any more of those puzzled reviews.
A while go we told you the story of a woman who fended off a cougar by playing the Metallica track “Don’t Tread On Me” on her smartphone.
There’s more hard rock and wildlife news out of Yellowstone National Park. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office says when their deputies see bison in the road, and when their flashing lights and sirens don’t get them to move, they crank up their speakers and play AC/DC, and they say that usually sends the thunderstruck bison on their way…