Happy 92nd, Prunella Scales!

Prunella Scales, best known for her brilliant portrayal of Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, turned 92 years young Friday (22 June). Her 7-decade career began in 1951 where she worked as the assistant stage manager at the Bristol Old Vic. Her career big break came with the early 1960s sitcom Marriage Lines starring opposite Richard Briers (Good Life). It was 1975 and 1979 when she played her most famous role, Sybil Fawlty in the sitcom Fawlty Towers, written by John Cleese and Connie Booth.

In 1992 Scales appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, one of my absolute favorite series of all time. Her chosen book was the Complete Works of Shakespeare in German, the Bible in Russian, and a Russian dictionary; her luxury item was “a huge tapestry kit”.

We had the great good fortune to spend time with Prunella Scales both in 2004 for PBS’ Funny Ladies of British Comedy and again in 2005 as she and Andrew Sachs, along with John Cleese and host of other cast members, celebrated the 30th anniversary of, perhaps, the greatest British sitcom of all-time, Fawlty Towers in PBS’ Fawlty Towers Revisited.

I remember her speaking of the character fondly as if she knew much more about the character than what was written in the script. She seemed to have created a lengthy backstory to Sybil’s life before Basil. When we asked just how on Earth she thought Basil and Sybil stayed together much less ever got together, she stated that she felt that “…the reason Sybil married Basil was because his origins were of a much higher social class than hers”.

Scales and her husband of 61 years, actor Timothy West, travelled together on narrowboats for the Channel 4 documentary series, Great Canal Journeys in 2014. Samuel West, Timothy and Prunella’s son, currently stars as Siegfried Farnon in the 2020 remake of the veterinary drama series All Creatures Great and Small for Channel 5 and PBS Masterpiece.

Happy birthday, Prunella! Thank you for a lifetime of laughs yesterday, today and for years to come!

In: Actors/Actresses


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