Fawlty Towers: Season 2, Episode 1

Communication Problems (19 Feb. 1979)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Comedy
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When Mrs. Richards, a demanding woman who is hard of hearing, checks into the hotel, Basil, Sybil and Polly find themselves with a very difficult customer. Meanwhile, Basil bets on a horse ... See full summary »



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Title: Communication Problems (19 Feb 1979)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Joan Sanderson ...
Ballard Berkeley ...
Gilly Flower ...
Renee Roberts ...
Robert Lankesheer ...
Mr. Thurston
Johnny Shannon ...
Mr. Firkin
Bill Bradley ...
Mr. Mackintosh
George Lee ...
Mr. Kerr
Mervyn Pascoe ...
Mr. Yardley


When Mrs. Richards, a demanding woman who is hard of hearing, checks into the hotel, Basil, Sybil and Polly find themselves with a very difficult customer. Meanwhile, Basil bets on a horse that is sure to win, however he must not let Sybil find out. Written by Nadia Nassar

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19 February 1979 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


After Mrs. Richards bumps her head in the hotel office, Basil picks up a bit of something from off the floor and asks, "Is this a piece of your brain?" John Cleese was going to cut this joke before the show aired, but Andrew Sachs convinced him to leave it in. (It gets one of the biggest laughs from the audience for this episode.) See more »


When Basil is explaining to Polly that Mrs. Richards's money is ten pounds up on the deal, a crew member is seen briefly scuttling about on the office floor behind him, they bump the office door causing it to move a little behind Basil. See more »


Basil Fawlty: Tie's a bit bright, isn't it, Major?
Major Gowen: What?
Basil Fawlty: For a memorial service?
Major Gowen: Why... I didn't like the chap.
See more »


Referenced in The John Cleese Interview (1998) See more »


Gwine to Run All Night, or De Camptown Races
Written by Stephen Foster
Performed by John Cleese
See more »

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User Reviews

Basil Meets His Match
14 July 2013 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Mrs Richards comes to stay at Fawlty Towers . She is hard of hearing which causes much frustration to Basil . Basil's problems are compounded when Sybil becomes suspicious that he's been putting money on horses

Communication Problems is a strange episode from the show . Like the episode featuring hotel inspectors the audience are asked to empathise with Bssil far more than usual . It'd be different if Mrs Richards was merely deaf but she's an arrogant selfish horror whose behaviour borders on the narcissistic played superbly by Joan Sanderson . we all know someone like that and we all hope their attitude comes back to bite them . Basil also has the duel problem that Sybil is suspicious of his betting habit at the bookies . We're asked more than empathising with Bsil we're asked to sympathise with him which is not something that happens in the show very often

This slightly atypical episode means it sticks out more than it possibly deserves to . I remember reading somewhere that despite having more memorable episodes it was this one that won a public vote as the funniest episode . It's good on its own but it's not even the funniest episode of the season

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