Communication Problems

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"Communication Problems"
Fawlty Towers episode
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 1
Directed byBob Spiers
Written byJohn Cleese & Connie Booth
Original air date19 February 1979
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Germans"
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"The Psychiatrist"
List of Fawlty Towers episodes

"Communication Problems" is the first episode of the second series of BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers and the seventh episode overall. It is also known as Mrs Richards and 'Communication's Problems'.

On 2 December 2016, the episode was repeated on BBC One in memory of cast member Andrew Sachs.[1]


Basil gets a tip on horse racing from a satisfied customer. Knowing Sybil does not approve of his gambling, he gives money to Manuel to place the bet and to not mention it to Sybil.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Richards, a short-sighted, deaf, and short-tempered old woman checks into the hotel. While she is quick to criticize others, many of these faults are due to her not using her hearing aid or refusing to use her glasses. Basil tries to have Sybil deal with Mrs. Richards' complaints.

Basil's horse wins, and he has Manuel go to collect the £75 winnings and turns those over to Polly to give to Basil later. Mrs. Richards comes to complain to Sybil that £85 has gone missing out of her room, and claims to have seen Polly counting it, when Polly was actually counting Basil's winnings. Polly feigns that she had bet on a horse, raising Sybil's attention. Basil quickly gives the money to the Major for safekeeping. The next morning, Basil goes to ask the Major for the money, but the Major has forgotten what happened yesterday, and when he finds the money, claims he just found it in front of Sybil and Mrs. Richards. Sybil hands the money to Mrs. Richards, who notes it is still £10 short. Basil tries to convince her otherwise, but with the Major's lack of memory and Manuel sticking to his promise to keep quiet, cannot change her mind. As he prepares to give her £10 from the register, a delivery man arrives with a vase for Mrs. Richards and the £95 she had left at the store when she purchased it. Basil takes the money, paying an extra £10 to Mrs. Richards.

Basil later counts his winnings in the office, but Sybil catches him. Polly again asserts those are her winnings and Basil was putting it into the safe. Just then, the Major walks by, having recalled that Basil gave him the money for safekeeping yesterday, and that Basil had won it on a horse. Basil inadvertently drops Mrs. Richards' vase, and Sybil takes the £75 the vase cost to give back to Mrs. Richards.


Episode-credited cast:


  • Bill Bradley as Mr Mackintosh
  • Robert Lankesheer as Mr Thurston
  • George Lee as the delivery man
  • Mervyn Pascoe as Mr Yardley
  • Johnny Shannon as Mr Firkin


Interior scenes of this episode were recorded on 21 January 1979, in Studio TC1 of the BBC Television Centre, before a live audience.[2]


  1. ^ Weaver, Matthew (2 December 2016). "Andrew Sachs, Manuel from Fawlty Towers, dies aged 86". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  2. ^ Kempton, Martin. "An unreliable and wholly unofficial history of BBC Television Centre..." An incomplete history of London's television studios. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fawlty Towers: A Worshipper's Companion, Leo Publishing, ISBN 91-973661-8-8
  • The Complete Fawlty Towers by John Cleese & Connie Booth (1988, Methuen, London) ISBN 0-413-18390-4 (the complete text)

External links[edit]