Excerpt from “Fawlty Towers” by Graham McCann ~~Germans~~

Back at the hotel, Polly is busy helping the guests from Germany to settle in when Basil suddenly returns, with his head heavily bandaged and a hospital smock still visible beneath his jacket. ‘You OK?’ asks a bemused Manuel. ‘Fine, thank you, dear,’ replies Basil absent-mindedly. ‘You go and have a lie-down.’ Then it is his turn to be puzzled when, as he resumes his position behind the desk, one of the guests comes up and says, ‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’ Seeing that he is confused, they translate: ‘You speak German?’ Basil, his concussed head finally processing the information, smiles with relief: ‘Oh, German! I’m sorry, I there was something wrong with you!’

The rest of the episode reveals just how much damage and distress a combination of a backward mind and a bruised brain can cause in a confined space. Lapsing into the Little British delusion that shouting in a foreign accent is the same thing as actually speaking in another language, Basil adopts an Adolf Hitler voice to assure the bewildered visitors who have merely inquired about the possibility of renting a car (‘ein auto mieten’), that there is already ‘meat hier … in ze buildink!’ Polly arrives just in time to prevent any further offence, and, after hearing Basil whisper to her, ‘They’re Germans. Don’t mention the war,’ she rushes off to call the hospital.

Basil, meanwhile, has wandered into the dining room and, believing himself to be on his best behaviour, is attempting to take some orders: ‘Oh, prawn, that was it. When you said prawn, I thought you said war. Oh, yes. Oh, the war! Oh, yes, completely slipped my mind, yes, I’d forgotten all about it. Hitler, Himmler, and all that lot, oh, yes, completely forgotten it …’ It goes from bad to worse. ‘I’ll just get your hors d’oeuvres … hors d’oeuvres vich must be obeyed at all times vizout question … Sorry! Sorry!’ Polly urges him to answer an urgent call from his wife, but he brushes her aside, warning her in another whisper, ‘Listen: don’t mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.’ Then he returns to his guests:

BASIL: So that’s two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering and four Colditz salads … no, wait a moment, I got a bit confused there, sorry. [One of the women begins to sob] I got a bit confused because everyone keeps mentioning the war, so could you …

[One of the other guests, who is comforting her, glares at Basil]

BASIL: What’s the matter?

MAN: It’s all right.

BASIL: Is there something wrong?

MAN: Will you stop talking about the war!

BASIL: Me? You started it!

MAN: We did not start it!

BASIL: Yes you did – you invaded Poland!

He tries to lighten the mood by attempting a joke featuring a man in a bomber over Berlin, then, realising that something far more impressive is now required, he proceeds to place a finger across his upper lip and does Führer party piece, goose-stepping his way out of the room and then back in again. Much to his amazement, not even this has done the trick:

MAN: Stop it!!

BASIL: I’m trying to cheer her up, you stupid Kraut!

MAN: It’s not funny for her.

BASIL: Not funny? You’re joking!

MAN: Not funny for her, for us, not for any German people!

BASIL: You have absolutely no sense of humour, do you?



The end comes, mercifully, when Basil spies his doctor sneaking up on him armed with a hypodermic needle. Chased through the lobby, he pauses under the mounted moose and, believing that he has given the doctor the slip, slaps his hands together in triumph – and the moose crashes down again on his head.


1 Comment

Filed under Dialogue

One response to “Excerpt from “Fawlty Towers” by Graham McCann ~~Germans~~

  1. Fawlty Towers is a British sitcom first broadcast in 1975 and 1979. Twelve episodes were made (two series, each of six episodes). The show was written by John Cleese and his wife at the time, Connie Booth, who both starred in the show.

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