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The antics of Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil, hapless Spanish waiter Manuel and the ever-sensible Polly grabbed the imagination when it first went out on BBC Two on 19 September 1975. Subsequent re-runs of Fawlty Towers have confirmed its position as one of the finest British sit-coms. And while it continues to be in many people's top 10 lists, the origins of Torquay's hotelier from hell have also become stuff of television legend. In 1971, John Cleese and some other members of Monty Python's Flying Circus stayed at a hotel in Devon, which was run by an ill-tempered manager. Cleese was struck by the comedic irony of an angry and frustrated person running a hotel where a winning smile and a calm conduct are time-honoured traits. So when the BBC asked Cleese to come up with a sitcom some years later, the irrepressible Basil Fawlty was born. He wrote the series with his then-wife, Connie Booth. Read more