Much as been printed over the years with respect to the fact that Donald Sinclair, owner of the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, was the model for the most infamous hotelier, Basil Fawlty, in the classic British comedy, Fawlty Towers. As the story goes, the Pythons were staying at the hotel during a May 1970 location filming trip. While most of the Python left after filming, Cleese, who, later described Sinclair as “the most marvellously rude man I’ve ever met” and Connie Booth stayed on to research the owner.
Of note here is that Cleese was actually researching for a character sketch for the British comedy, Doctor in the House, of which Cleese was a writer at the time. Interestingly, after this prototype character was developed into the full-fledged Basil Fawlty, the original script was turned down by a BBC executive giving his reason as “…this is full of clichéd situations and stereotypical characters and I cannot see it as being anything other than a disaster.”
What wasn’t widely known is that Donald Sinclair’s wife, Beatrice, was the inspiration for Sybil, being the driving force behind the business. Sadly, Beatrice passed away on Thursday at the age of 95. Unfortunately, she never really embraced the concept of Fawlty Towers being based on herself and Donald and never really talked about the series, feeling that it was an unfair portrayal of the hotel and the couple.
Just for yourself. Take the tour of the Hotel Gleneagles and meet Donald and Beatrice Sinclair.