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A Touch of Class (Fawlty Towers)

"A Touch of Class"
Fawlty Towers episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by John Howard Davies
Written by John Cleese & Connie Booth
Production code 01
Original air date 19 September 1975
Running time 30:18
Episode chronology
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"The Builders"
List of Fawlty Towers episodes

"A Touch of Class" is the pilot episode in the first series of the BBC television sitcom Fawlty Towers.

The episode introduces Basil Fawlty, the cynical, sharp-tongued owner of the Fawlty Towers hotel; his henpecking wife Sybil; Manuel, the eager but hapless Spanish waiter; Major Gowen, a semi-senile and often whisky-soaked permanent resident; and Polly, a maid/waitress who is the only sane and sensible employee of the hotel.

The episode opens with Sybil reminding Basil of many chores he must do: prepare the bill for some guests in a hurry to depart, hang a painting in the lobby and type the menus for lunch. While Basil is trying to have a snack, Sybil confronts him about an expensive advertisement that he has placed in an upscale magazine, and he explains that he is trying to encourage a higher social class of customer. Basil informs Sybil that Sir Richard and Lady Morris, an aristocratic couple who saw the advertisement, will be arriving that evening. Soon after, a leather-jacketed Cockney guest, Danny Brown, turns up asking for a room, much to Basil's annoyance. Basil – who, it has been revealed, claimed to speak "Classical Spanish" – is further put out when Mr. Brown shows that he can communicate better than he with Manuel, as he speaks fluent Spanish.

While Basil is on the phone to a Mr. O'Reilly (a "cowboy" builder featured in the following episode) complaining about some recent shoddy workmanship, Lord Melbury, a well-dressed aristocrat, turns up out of the blue. Basil immediately becomes infatuated by Melbury's air of class and breeding. Embarrassing incidents follow, where Basil fawns over Lord Melbury and treats him better than the other guests. Basil even asks a family, in the middle of their meal, to move tables for Lord Melbury, but accidentally deposits Lord Melbury on the floor in the process which earns a passing Manuel an angry and totally undeserved blow to his head, primarily as a distraction from Basil's own ineptitude. Basil grovels to Melbury for forgiveness, which Melbury grants him.



  • The painting Basil attempts to hang on the wall has no glass covering it, yet when Basil throws it on the floor the sound of breaking glass is heard.
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