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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Destruction of Fawlty Towers

Last year, I visited Torquay for two reasons. One was that it was the English city where Agatha Christie lived and wrote her stories. Another was its association with Monty Python and Fawlty Towers.

While planning out our trip, I studied the Hotel Gleneagles' website. It stated that not only could I stay there, but I could see a live dinner show based on the Fawlty Towers TV series. As the six writers and actors responsible for the Monty Python TV show had stayed in Gleneagles, and their visit inspired member John Cleese to create the Fawlty Towers TV series, this seemed like an irresistible opportunity. 

Sadly, although the website was still operating, Gleneagles had already closed by this time.

Still time for a swim?

During our visit to Torquay, my wife and I visited the property. It had not yet reopened, and no cars were in the parking lot. But little signs, here and there, advertised its connection with Basil Fawlty, the fictional owner, and his bumbling assistant Manuel, the hotel bellhop and waiter. I peered in through the windows, and looked through the side gate. I saw a cover over the pool, and an empty hotel lobby. But no one inside, enjoying this place of living history. 

While I was there, another car pulled up, and a local man got out. He took some photographs of the hotel with his phone, and we chatted for awhile. He enthused about the Hotel's association with Fawlty Towers, a show he loved and regarded as a classic British sitcom. He kindly took this photograph of me standing before the entrance.

When I discovered the article on the purchase and renovation of Moorlands House in Hay Tor, where Agatha Christie wrote her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, I decided to search for any developments of Hotel Gleneagles. Instead of learning that it had been also refurnished, redeveloped, and that I would be able to stay there, I learned that the building had been torn down earlier this year. So, Agatha Christie's historic hotel gets saved, and John Cleese's gets razed? One is cosseted, the other destroyed? Sometimes, life just doesn't seem fair.

Still, I got to go there, and see the historic Gleneagles Hotel, before it was lost to history forever. Or, as the Daleks would say, before Fawlty Towers was exterminated, Exterminated, EXTERMINATED!!!

Dragon Dave

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