Fawlty Towers named greatest ever British TV sitcom

John Cleese in Fawlty Towers

Comedy experts position series set in a chaotic hotel above Father Ted and I’m Alan Partridge

Fawlty Towers has been named the greatest ever British TV sitcom once again by a panel of comedy experts compiled by the Radio Times.

The comedy series set in a chaotic Torquay seaside hotel managed by an incompetent and highly strung hotelier played by John Cleese, was ranked above Father Ted, which chronicled the lives of three dysfunctional Irish priests and their housekeeper, and I’m Alan Partridge, in second and third place respectively.

Although Fawlty Towers ran for only two series, the popularity of its 12 episodes has endured and it is often re-broadcast, with the co-writer, Connie Booth, saying the show succeeds because it allows “infantile rage and aggression” to flourish even within “well-mannered English society”.

Basil Fawlty’s one-liners have gone down in comedy folklore. In one episode, a hotel guest complained that he was not satisfied, to which he replied: “Well, people like you never are, are you?”

During another, a guest asked if anywhere serves French food. Fawlty retorted: “Yes, France, I believe. They seem to like it there. And the swim would certainly sharpen your appetite. You’d better hurry, the tide leaves in six minutes.”

In a thinly veiled jibe at the broadcaster’s current management, Cleese said he was lucky to be working at the BBC when decisions were taken by people who had actually made programmes and paid tribute to his co-stars and producer, John Howard Davies, who directed the first six episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

“I’m proud we are up there with Porridge and Only Fools and Ab Fab and Blackadder and The Office and Reggie Perrin and The Thick of It,” he told the Radio Times.

Fawlty Towers co-writer Connie Booth told the magazine: “It’s unique in being a farce, with all the plot surprises and precision that the style requires. And it doesn’t hurt that the star of the show is a six–foot-five comic genius; if he was shorter I can’t imagine how it would have worked.”

Richard Curtis and Ben Elton’s historical sitcom, Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson, was fourth on the list, with Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s 80-episode, half-century-old Dad’s Army in fifth.

Only Fools and Horses, featuring Peckham wheeler-dealers the Trotter family, was named sixth best sitcom of all time, ahead of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s prison-based comedy drama, Porridge, in seventh.

Fawlty Towers was also named the best British sitcom of all time in a survey of comedians, comedy writers and actors in 2017.

Source: Fawlty Towers named greatest ever British TV sitcom

Advertisements

The best British horror films of all time – NME

The Wicker Man (1973) Edward Woodward (if you can read that without thinking ‘ee-wah woo-wah’, you didn’t listen to your dad’s jokes closely enough) plays a puritanical policeman sent to investigate disappearances on the remote Summerisle, which turns out have a sort of Royston Vasey-meets-Burning Man vibe. What it says about Britain: Yeah, the Romans […]

 

Continue at NME: The best British horror films of all time – NME

The Primal Attraction of ‘Beast’

Arresting lead performances give this British psychological thriller an alluringly dangerous sexual energy.

At first it comes on like a grim version of Sixteen Candles: a young, flame-haired woman flees her house after being upstaged at her own birthday party (where her older sister makes a happy announcement, with perfect malicious timing), then gets tipsy at a club and ends up with a dodgy boy who turns out to be a creep. Life is almost comically frustrating for Moll (Jessie Buckley), but Beast is no John Hughes scenario. Moll’s not a teenager anymore, and her stunted existence—she lives with her parents and helps tend a father with dementia—is shadowed by a troubling incident from her past.

Beast, which played during the first week of SIFF, is Michael Pearce’s feature writing/directing debut. The beast stalking the Isle of Jersey—that small enclave of Englishness just off the coast of France—has already killed a handful of people, including a victim slain the night of Moll’s birthday. Pearce rolls out the story as a whodunit, scattering a few viable suspects around—but Moll’s family, and the police, think the main candidate is Pascal Renouf (Johnny Flynn), the rough, scar-faced young man who came to Moll’s rescue the night she ran away. Moll and Pascal, both cast out by society, rush toward each other as though magnetized. She knows he could be the killer, but after having been surrounded by dullards on a small island all her life, the intoxication of their chemistry overwhelms her. When an insinuating police officer (Trystan Gravelle) interrogates Moll and asks whether her sex life with Pascal has been out of the ordinary, she contemptuously replies, “It’s not ordinary. It’s amazing.”

This is mad love, always rich turf for the movies. We see Moll taking dangerous risks on Pascal’s account, and we worry about her, but we also sense her exhilaration. The premise is a little like Nicholas Ray’s great film noir In a Lonely Place (1950), where we watch Humphrey Bogart begin a romance with Gloria Grahame while he’s under suspicion for murder—except that Beast shows us the dynamic from the female perspective. Pearce adds a sinister undercurrent: Moll, after all, must herself be considered one of the suspects.

I wish Beast fulfilled all its early promise, but it stumbles toward the end, and its caricature of domestic asphyxiation seems a little canned—did Moll’s mother (ably played by Geraldine James) have to be quite such a brittle harridan? The movie is memorable, though, because of the two lead performances. The Irish-born Buckley has seen success in longform TV shows like Taboo and BBC’s War and Peace, while Flynn is a musician and actor, perhaps best known as the youthful version of Albert Einstein in Genius. They’re mesmerizing. When movie stars are cast as misfits, it can produce unconvincing results (see Michelle Pfeiffer in Frankie and Johnny). No such problem here. Buckley and Flynn are both arresting—and it’ll be surprising if their careers don’t take off—but they don’t come across like stars. They look as though they’d stepped out of the pages of an old folk tale hatched from an insular island culture like Jersey’s: two phantom spirits, not entirely to be trusted.

Source: SEATTLE TIMES The Primal Attraction of ‘Beast’ | Seattle Weekly