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‘Fawlty Towers’ long lost original script up for auction

"To find new material from one of the greatest sitcoms of all time is akin to finding the holy grail."

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A long lost original Fawlty Towers script is up for auction featuring a scene when Basil hides to avoid having sex with a drunken Sybil.
(East Bristol Auctions via SWNS)

By Tom Bevan via SWNS

A long lost original Fawlty Towers script is up for auction - featuring a scene when Basil (John Cleese) hides outside a window to avoid having sex with his drunken wife Sybil.

The collection of scripts being sold includes around 15 minutes worth of scenes that were written for the classic 'The Anniversary' episode. But they didn't make it to the filming stage.

This is the episode where Basil pretends to forget his anniversary, causing a row with Sybil.


She then storms off, so Basil has to convince waitress Polly to don Sybil’s clothes and pretend to be ill for their friends who are very shortly turning up.

But in one of the extra scenes, that differed from the final version, Sybil arrives back at the hotel drunk.

She then hurriedly gets taken upstairs back to her bedroom by Basil, where Polly, Manuel & Terry the Chef are still tidying up from the earlier deception.

They hide in the room, whilst Sybil attempts to flirt and have sex with Basil as he frantically tries to get the other trio out of the room.


During Sybil's attempted abduction, Basil was hanging off Wysteria outside their bedroom window.

The script, alongside others that did make it into the classic British sitcom, are being sold at auction by a private anonymous seller later this month.

Auctioneer Andrew Stowe from East Bristol Auctions hailed the importance of the discovery.

He said: "Fawlty Towers is like sampling a fine wine – there really isn’t much of it out there, so to discover some ‘extra’ script truly is remarkable."

A long lost original Fawlty Towers script. (East Bristol Auctions via SWNS)

The sitcom based around the running of a hotel in Torquay was written by John Cleese and Connie Booth and ran for only 12 episodes across two series in 1975 and 1979.

It is widely regarded as one of the classics of British comedy and won several BAFTAs during its time. Basil Fawlty was also ranked second in a 2001 Channel 4 poll of the ‘100 Greatest TV Characters.’

Mr Stowe added: "I always find sitcom scripts fascinating, and I happen to know the series quite well. As I was cataloging the collection and flicking through each script, I suddenly spotted some dialogue I didn’t recognize in the episode The Anniversary.

"That dialogue then turned into a whole scene, then two scenes, then about half the script. I couldn’t believe what I was reading."

In the broadcast episode the show ends as the guests, who have just been up to see an ‘ill’ Sybil – really Polly in disguise, are leaving and the real Sybil turns up.


However, in the draft script, there are around 30 additional pages – which describe Polly and Manuel attempting to resolve the situation further, and Sybil becoming more and more involved in the deception. The script pages are thought to make up around 15 minutes of additional material.

Mr. Stowe added: "A strike at the BBC is probably the reason for the change.

"The Anniversary had double the length of rehearsal time than any of the other episodes in the series.

"The script and some of the cast changed in between rehearsal and filming due to the extra time and scheduling moves. I suspect the script was ‘tightened’ in this extra time, thus losing these additional scenes."

The collection of scripts is expected to fetch more than £12k ($14,600 USD) with each script being estimated at two to three thousand pounds.

Mr. Stowe added: "To find new material from one of the greatest sitcoms of all time is akin to finding the holy grail.

"There were only twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers ever made, that’s just over six hours of television. These additional scenes mean there is now an extra five percent of material out there! That’s quite something.

"John Cleese was always rather critical of his own work, and these scenes were clearly removed for a reason – but to be able to see the process from script to screen in this way, with such a famous show, is a complete privilege.

"Knowing that only a handful of people have ever read these extra scenes makes my spine tingle."

The online-only auction ‘Fawlty Towers – Don’t Mention The Auction!’ ends on December 30th.


BASIL is hanging off Wysteria outside their bedroom window.

Sybil; Have you gone off the idea Basil?

Basil: Oh no dear, not at all

Sybil: I mean if you don't find me attractive, just say so

Basil; No no dear, I was just.... getting some fresh air!

Sybil: Yes, well it's getting a bit chilly in here, you don't mind if I close the window?

Basil: Er no dear, not at all.


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