Fawlty Towers cast 46 years on – sex scandal, £12m divorce and serious illness

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The show premiered on this day in 1975 (September 19) – but Fawlty Towers is still just as funny as it ever was.

Starring John Cleese as permanently enraged hotel owner Basil Fawlty, it only ran for 12 episodes from but became a classic.

It spawned iconic scenes and lines that continue to be acted out and repeated in homes and pubs up and down the country, still to this day.

Creators John Cleese and Connie Booth decided to quit while they were ahead, producing just 12 episodes – but each one is still comedy gold.

Here, we check out that infamous Torquay hotel to discover where the staff and residents are now.

John Cleese (Basil Fawlty)

Every episode saw Cleese’s rude hotel owner Basil explode in a fit of rage, whether it was directed at bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel, giving his car a “damn good thrashing” or goose-stepping around the room.

After leaving the English Riviera, Cleese focused on films during the 1980s and 90s, starring in Clockwise, A Fish Called Wanda and its sequel, Fierce Creatures, plus two Bond films as Q’s assistant and Q.

In 2016, he revived Basil and his car thrashing for a Specsavers advert, with some speculating it was to help recover from an expensive divorce.

Four-times married Cleese, 81, was ordered to pay third wife Alyce Eichelberger £12million, including £600,000 a year for seven years.

The dad of two, who recently starred in BBC sitcom Hold The Sunset, lives with wife Jennifer on the Caribbean island of Nevis, where he emigrated after becoming disillusioned with British politics.

John is now set to front a new documentary about cancel culture, called Cancel Me.

According to its press release, it will explore "why a new 'woke' generation is trying to rewrite the rules on what can and can't be said".

Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty)

Sarcastic Sybil was always on hand with a putdown and far more capable of handling the hotel than husband Basil.

Scales went on to star in a string of films, including The Boys From Brazil and Howard’s End, but she might be best remembered for the Tesco adverts she did as Dotty, alongside Jane Horrocks as her long-suffering daughter.

She is married to actor Timothy West and the pair have two sons. The eldest, actor Sam West, recently appeared in the All Creatures Great And Small remake.

Scales, now 88, and her husband filmed Great Canal Journeys together on Channel 4 from 2014 to 2019.

When the show started they revealed she had Alzheimer’s and last year West, 86, told how the condition had forced them to quit the much-loved travelogue.

Andrew Sachs (Manuel)

Sachs’ hapless waiter often took the brunt of Basil’s bashings.

But did you know he recorded three singles in character, including Manuel’s Good Food Guide in 1977?

On the show Sachs suffered second-degree burns in a re stunt.

After hanging up his apron, he did voiceover and radio work as well as TV, including a brief stint in Coronation Street.

In 2008, Sachs was in the headlines after Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross prank-called him, leaving messages about Brand having sex with his grand-daughter Georgina Baillie.

It sparked a huge scandal and the BBC apologised, with Brand resigning and Ross being suspended.

In 2012 Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia, leaving him unable to speak and in a wheelchair. He died in 2016, with widow Melody dying the following year. They had three children.

Connie Booth (Polly Sherman)

Booth co-wrote Fawlty Towers with her then-husband Cleese and starred in the show as sensible chambermaid Polly.

Booth and Cleese met in the 1960s, married in 1968 and had their daughter Cynthia three years later. By the time the second series of Fawlty Towers began filming, the two were divorced but still good friends.

Booth went on to star in shows including The Tomorrow People and The Buccaneers but quit acting in 1995.

She then changed career and became a psychotherapist. Now 80, she lives in London with her author husband John Lahr.

Ballard Berkeley (Major Gowen)

The slightly senile major was a permanent resident at the hotel.

But the character’s racist and bigoted views have been censored, with his most offensive lines cut out of repeats.

In real life Berkeley appeared in several TV series including Hi-de-Hi! and To The Manor Born, and his last role was a voiceover in the animated film The BFG before his death in 1988.

Bernard Cribbins (Mr Hutchinson)

Cribbins played a spoons salesman whom Basil became convinced was a hotel inspector.

Now 92, the actor’s career has spanned more than 70 years.

Highlights include narrating The Wombles, starring in three Carry On films and appearing alongside David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Doctor Who.

Cribbins, who is an OBE, has been married to Gillian since 1955.

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