Fawlty Towers: Season 2, Episode 1

Communication Problems (19 Feb. 1979)

TV Episode  -   -  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 ...
Brian Hall ...
Gilly Flower ...
Renee Roberts ...
Robert Lankesheer ...
Mr. Thurston
Johnny Shannon ...
Mr. Firkins
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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

vase | hearing aid | rudeness | glove | chef | See more »




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Release Date:

19 February 1979 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


The episode "Communication Problems" has three of John Cleese's "wives". Connie Booth was his wife in real life, Prunella Scales played his wife in this show, and Joan Sanderson (Mrs. Richards) played his wife in The Great Muppet Caper (1981). 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 »


[Mrs. Richards comes downstairs for lavatory paper; Polly thinks she wants writing paper]
Mrs. Richards: Girl, there's no paper in my room. Why don't you check these things? That's what you're being paid for, isn't it?
Polly: We don't put it in the rooms.
Mrs. Richards: What?
Polly: Well, we keep it in the lounge.
Mrs. Richards: [aghast] In the lounge?
Polly: I'll get you some. Do you want plain ones or ones with our address on it?
Mrs. Richards: Address on it?
Polly: How many sheets? Well, how many are you going to use?
Mrs. Richards: Manager!
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

1 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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