Fawlty Towers (1975–1979)
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Communication Problems 

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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Episode complete credited cast:
Joan Sanderson ...
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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Release Date:

19 February 1979 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Joan Sanderson and Prunella Scales would later co-star as mother and daughter in the radio then TV comedy series After Henry (1988). See more »


When Sybil throws a cup of coffee over Basil at the end, about half of the contents miss him and splash over the major standing behind him instead. You can see the actor trying to do the best of the situation when having his jacket soaked, especially in the following shot. See more »


Mrs. Richards: What are you talking about, you silly little man?
Mrs. Richards: [to Polly] What is going on here? I ask him for my room and he tells me the manager is a Mr. Watt, aged forty.
Manuel: No, no, no, no. FAWLTY!
Mrs. Richards: He's faulty? What's wrong with him?
Polly: It's all right, Mrs. Richards. He's from Barcelona.
Mrs. Richards: The manager's from Barcelona?
Manuel: No, no, no, he's from-a Swanage.
Polly: And you're in 22.
Mrs. Richards: What?
Polly: You're in Room 22. Manuel, take these cases up to 22, will you?
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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

Si que what, and C.K. Watt
18 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Communication Problems" is one of the only episodes to focus almost entirely on one of the hotel guests - Mrs. Richards, who is visiting the hotel from Brighton. Portrayed flawlessly by the late Joan Sanderson, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find anyone more acerbic and tactless than this old battleaxe. But it's a familiar problem in hotels - guests like this come along often and all the staff can do is deal with them until they finally check out. Then, of course, there is the subplot of Basil secretly betting on the horses after a long absence (Sybil: "We don't want that avenue of pleasure opened up again, do we, Basil?!" Basil: "No YOU don't, dear.") which serves as the lead-in to the story's punch line. Thanks to Andrew Sachs, the Mrs. Richards head-banging scene stayed in (Basil: "Is this a piece of your brain?!") In a recent interview, he mentioned that John Cleese and Connie Booth didn't think it was any good and wanted to replace it. The entire scene is screamingly funny. Ballard Berkely (the Major Gowen) is at his most virtuosic as the dense and forgetful old codger. Many great lines, but the best have to come from the confrontation between Polly and Mrs. Richards regarding the toilet paper, and the one between her and Manuel ("Si que what?!")

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