British Hotel That Inspired 'Fawlty Towers' to Be Demolished

Courtesy of Photofest
John Cleese in 'Fawlty Towers'

The "wonderfully rude" owner of the hotel — now to be turned into a retirement home — provided the template for John Cleese's iconic Basil Fawlty.

The British seaside hotel that gave John Cleese the inspiration to write his internationally renowned comedy series Fawlty Towers will be knocked down.

After closing last year, the 41-bedroom Gleneagles Hotel, in Torquay on the south coast of the U.K., will be demolished to make way for a retirement home.

Cleese stayed at the hotel while filming Monty Python's Flying Circus in May 1970, but when much of the team checked out after one night (they were booked in for two weeks), he remained with his then wife and collaborator Connie Booth to observe the owner, Donald Sinclair, a man he would later describe as "the most wonderfully rude man I've ever come across in my life."

Sinclair, along with his wife, Beatrice Sinclair, (whom he would allegedly address with 'Yes, dear') provided the templates for Basil and Sybil Fawlty.

Incidents involving the owner included him throwing a timetable at a guest who asked when the next bus would arrive, criticizing Terry Gilliam's table manners for not being British after he left his knife and fork at an angle on the plate (in a scene reminiscent of the series' famed Waldorf Salad episode) and putting Eric Idle's briefcase behind a wall in the garden because he said he thought it contained a bomb.

"Why would anyone want to bomb your hotel?" Idle claimed he asked at the time, to which Sinclair replied: "We've had a lot of staff problems lately."

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