‘Fawlty Towers’ and Vinyl = ‘Fawlty Towers: For the Record’

John Cleese as hotelier, Basil Fawlty, in Fawlty Towers. Photo: BBC

Easily the funniest comedy of all-time, the 12 episodes (yes, there were only 12) of Fawlty Towers are nothing short of comedy perfection comprised of brilliant line after brilliant line and unmatched to this day, some 45+ years after its premiere in 1975.  Not only is it a masterclass of comedy writing and performance, the series should occupy everyone’s video library and be considered required viewing on a regular basis to remind us daily of what genius comedy is.

Soon, you’ll have the opportunity to secure a must-have acquisition for your vinyl library as well. The original four BBC vinyl albums – Fawlty Towers, Second Sitting, At Your Service and A La Carte – are joined by two newly created collections, Plat du Jour and Enjoy Your Stay, to form a box set of all 12 TV episodes. Much of the special linking narration, supplied by hapless waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs), is unique to the vinyl versions and hasn’t been available since their original pressings.

Each of the six 140g white vinyl LPs is presented in an all-new artwork cover, inside which is a facsimile of the original BBC Records & Cassettes cover (plus ‘faux’ period covers for Plat du Jour and Enjoy Your Stay). A four-page booklet details the development of Fawlty Towers, plus a history of the original LP releases, by Tim Worthington, author of Top of the Box – a guide to every single released by BBC Records And Tapes. A 12” frameable art print of Basil, which John Cleese has signed exclusively for this limited edition run, is also included in the attractive rigid box with lift-off lid.

The work that the mind palaces of Cleese and then wife, Connie Booth, put into each script is evident from start to finish with some episodes taking up to four months to write and required as many as ten drafts until they were satisfied. Series 1 premiered on September 19, 1975 and series 2 some four years later in 1979 following the couple’s divorce a year earlier.

If you don’t believe me, take the word of Dr. Helen Pilcher, a British molecular neurobiologist by day and stand-up comic by night. Pilcher and her team of research scientists analyzed almost two decades’ worth of British comedies and actually came up with a mathematical expression for success, and failure. It’s quite simple.  A sitcom is a success if it scores high marks when applied to the following formula. [((R x D + V) x F)+ S]/A

If you’ve decided against securing a British Telephone Box at a cost of £2,750+, consider this Fawlty Towers limited edition boxed set for your listening pleasure. You can pre-order the boxed set in advance of its scheduled release on May 28 of this year.

In: Comedy