The Hotel Inspectors

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"The Hotel Inspectors"
Fawlty Towers episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by John Howard Davies
Written by John Cleese & Connie Booth
Original air date 10 October 1975
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Wedding Party"
Next →
"Gourmet Night"

"The Hotel Inspectors" is the fourth episode of the BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Synopsis[edit]

When Basil hears of hotel inspectors roaming Torquay incognito, he realises with horror that the guest he has been verbally abusing could easily be one of them.

Cast[edit]

Episode-credited cast:

With:

  • Peter Brett as Brian (hotel inspector, 1st?)
  • Geoffrey Morris as John (hotel inspector, 2nd?)

(These two characters are credited as Brian and John but the credits make no clear connection between their names and being hotel inspectors as their names in the programme are never revealed.)

Uncredited:

Plot[edit]

Two guests, Mr. Walt and Mr. Hutchinson, arrive separately at reception. Mr. Walt says very little, while Mr. Hutchinson speaks in a very drawn-out and pompous, overly-affected manner (claiming that he finds "the air here [in Torquay] most invigorating") that immediately irritates Basil. Basil becomes increasingly irate as Hutchinson makes unreasonable requests and asks for specific directions to a meeting. Whilst drawing Hutchinson a map containing an abbreviation of Post Office, Basil accidentally makes Mr. Walt think he tells him to 'P-off', and also produces picture cards for Manuel to understand what he is saying. After Sybil finally finishes on the phone, she informs Basil that a friend of Audrey's discovered the presence of three hotel inspectors in town. This information raises Basil's blood pressure several notches, and he becomes determined to work out who the inspectors are, realising with horror that any of the guests he has been monstering could be one of them.

While Mr. Hutchinson is requesting to reserve the television to watch a documentary he is interested in, he says something which makes Basil's hair stand on end: "In my professional activities I am in constant contact with [hotels]." This, combined with Hutchinson's neediness and over-inflated style of speaking, convinces Basil that Hutchinson is actually an inspector, and changes his attitude towards Hutchinson, instead treating him like a VIP. He escorts him to the dining room, where lunch is about to be served, and ends up overlooking Mr. Walt, who is forced to wait after his bottle of wine proves to be corked, even though Hutchinson is taking a phone call. Sybil quietly reveals to Basil that Mr. Hutchinson is in fact a spoons salesman (she had overheard his conversation). Feeling conned, Basil promises revenge on Hutchinson. However, Basil's relief is short-lived when, while making conversation with him, Mr. Walt casually mentions that he is in Torquay "on business with two colleagues," which convinces Basil that he is actually the inspector. In order to prevent Walt getting a bad impression, Basil tries to stop Hutchinson, who is annoyed because a confusion in the kitchen has led to his being served several dishes he did not order, from complaining by choking him, eventually rendering him unconscious.

Hutchinson regains consciousness and starts punching Basil at reception, who uncharacteristically accepts it without retaliation in Mr. Walt's presence, before storming off, declaring he is leaving and does not expect to receive a bill. Mr. Walt is flabbergasted, especially when Basil tries to bribe him not to mention the chain of events which has just taken place when he reviews the hotel, and immediately goes into hysterics, realizing how much he has just risked the hotel's reputation. Mr. Walt reveals he is actually an outboard motors salesman, and consoles Basil. Thinking he is in the clear, Basil runs to the kitchen with Manuel, who stops Mr. Hutchinson as he is leaving, saying Basil wants to "say adios". Basil then slaps pies on Mr. Hutchinson's face and crotch while Manuel pours milk into his briefcase. Hutchinson is marched to the door and forcibly ejected out of the hotel by a vengeful Basil, who kisses Manuel on the head for his help, crosses over to the reception and welcomes three smartly-dressed businessmen - who have just witnessed the previous goings-on - to the hotel. He screams in terror when he realizes who they clearly are.

Connections and errors[edit]

  • At the end of the episode, there are clearly three hotel inspectors. However, only two of them (John and Brian) are named in the closing credits. The 1st inspector says "Twenty-six bedrooms, twelve with private bathrooms." The 2nd inspector says "Yes, well, why don't you have dinner here, and Chris and I can try the Claremont." The 1st inspector replies "OK. The owner's one Basil Fawlty." The 3rd inspector, Chris, is not credited as he does not speak at all—though he screams along with the others.
  • "Bill Morton", whose friend overheard the hotel inspectors in a bar, was named after the vision mixer for the series; he is the only member of the crew mentioned in the series.
  • Mr. Hutchinson asks if the hotel has a table tennis table, to which Basil replies, “Indeed we do. It is not ... in absolutely mint condition. But it certainly could be used in an emergency”. John Cleese has stated this is among his favorite lines in the entire series.
  • The scene in which the wine is 'corked' involved improvisation on the actors' parts. John Cleese and James Cossins were unaware of which way the wine would go, if at all. Loosely scripted dialogue was therefore at hand.
  • The only time in the series we ever see evidence of Basil smoking is when Sybil takes back all the matches (she is "just lighting up") and gives him back just one, in the opening scene.

External links[edit]