Remembering Ballard Berkeley, a.k.a. Major Gowen in ‘Fawlty Towers’

Basil (John Cleese) and the Major (Ballard Berkeley). Photo: BBC

Ballard Berkeley, who played the bumbling Major Gowen that seemed to always be locked in an endless quest for the afternoon paper in Fawlty Towers, would have been 117 on Friday. The English actor, who appeared on stage and screen, passed away in 1988. Prior to his professional career, Berkeley served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during the Second World War, witnessing the Blitz at first hand, including the bombing of the Café de Paris nightclub.

In addition to Fawlty Towers, a role that he will forever be linked to, Berkeley appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright and made a brief appearance in the 1985 film National Lampoon’s European Vacation which starred Chevy Chase. Berkeley played a British man who is involved in a minor road accident with the Griswalds.

Berkeley was no stranger to comedy in his post-Fawlty Towers days, having also appeared in single episodes of To the Manor Born and Are You Being Served? in addition to a recurring role in Fresh Fields alongside Julia McKenzie and Anton Rodgers (May to December).

R.I.P. Ballard Berkeley and…Happy Birthday! Hope you are finally getting your daily papers!


In: Actors/Actresses,Comedy