Fawlty Towers: Season 1, Episode 6

The Germans (24 Oct. 1975)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
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Ratings: 9.2/10 from 843 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 1 critic

A moose head to be hung, a fire drill to be conducted, and German guests are all a bit much for Basil to handle while Sybil's in hospital.




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Title: The Germans (24 Oct 1975)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ballard Berkeley ...
Claire Davenport ...
Mrs. Wilson
Gilly Flower ...
Renee Roberts ...
Brenda Cowling ...
Louis Mahoney ...
John Lawrence ...
Mr. Sharp
Iris Fry ...
Mrs. Sharp
Willy Bowman ...
German Guest
Nick Kane ...
German Guest
Lisa Bergmayr ...
German Guest


With Sybil in hospital for a few days to have an operation for an ingrown toenail, Basil is left on his own at the hotel to cope with a group of German tourists and the need for the regular semi-annual fire drill. He's not having much success with either. The guests confuse the burglar alarm with the fire alarm and when Manuel does start a fire in the kitchen, no one pays attention. Basil suffers a rather severe blow to the head leading him to insult his German guests by making constant references to the war. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

24 October 1975 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


When the German guest asks "Wir wollen...." ("We would like...."), Basil translates "wollen" as "voluntary". In this, he is partially correct. The English word "voluntary" does derive from the German verb "wollen" ('to have the will to (perform an action)'). See more »


As Basil Fawlty flees the doctor who wants to sedate him, a studio monitor can be seen in the background, complete with the same image that is on the screen. See more »


Manuel: [practicing his English while cleaning behind and beneath the front desk] How are you, sir? You see, I speak English well. I learn it from a book... Hello... I am English... Helloooo...
[Manuel continues as Major walks into the room]
Manuel: [unseen] How are you, sir?... I can speak English.
[Major looks at the moose head on the desk, thinking it's talking to him, and turns away astonished]
Manuel: [popping up for a moment and spotting the major] Ah, hello, Major. How are you today?
See more »


Referenced in QI: Germany (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Season 1: Really just hits the bull's-eye from the very first minute
9 December 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

More and more over the last few years I find myself watching television shows that I either never tried or that it has been decades since I last watched properly. The thing I normally end up noting is that many shows seem to take some time to bed in. Curb Your Enthusiasm is certainly better after the first season, likewise Battlestar Galatica, Always Sunny and many other shows. It is a compliment to the quality then to come back to shows like Yes Minister and Fawlty Towers and find that they pretty much hit the mark from the very first episode of the very first season – indicating that they knew what they were about and were able to find their targets from the start.

With Fawlty Towers the "target" is the creation of Basil himself. Basil is a great comedy character because he is a character we can easily laugh at because he is quite unlikeable but not so unlikeable or victorious that we feel bad that he exists. Basil is irritable, smarmy, intolerant and exaggerated – in short, funny. Season 1 nails this from the very start with the episode that makes the class system the focus. In it of course we see Basil treat people differently based on his perceptions of them only for them to change again as he finds himself to be incorrect. As a device it is simple but it works and is repeated several times in different forms with the episode with the hotel inspectors and the one where everyone appears to be "at it". He is a tragic clown who is arrogant, unable to admit he is ever wrong and also self-destructive to a fault, with his frustrations building up inside him as he goes. In short he is about the last person you would want to have in a role that involves dealing with the public in any capacity, far less being at their beck and call.

Cleese delivers this perfectly from the very start and his exaggerated reactions really draw the laughs. He is well supported by a cast that don't get the credit they deserve for letting him play off them as he does. Booth in particular never gets enough of the credit that her joint writing credit should give her. OK she has much less time to shine but she acts with Cleese very well. Scales has more comedy material and her intolerant and bullying Sybil is a simple but effective character that feeds Basil more. Sachs' "Spanish" is an easy joke but his physical timing is great and again he is best when allowing Cleese to react around him. All of them are very funny in this first season and they are all part of the show not even having a "settling in" period of a minute.

Watching it in full rather than in clips shows (which is how most of us have probably seen it in the last few years) the effect is to be more impressive. It is a very well delivered show that has great physical humour built around a wonderful comedy character in the shape of Fawlty. That he is so well delivered by Cleese while the others help him do it just makes this stronger. I'll give it a minute but I'm looking forward to properly watching the second season for hopefully more of the same.

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