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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK


Basil's road rage tops poll

Things just refused to go to plan for the hapless Mr Fawlty

It is an emotion many motorists will appreciate - although few go as far as Basil Fawlty and thrash their broken down vehicle with a branch.

[ image:  ]
But drivers appear to at least sympathise with the fury of the unfortunate hotelier, as the famous scene from the TV series Fawlty Towers has topped a survey of momentous motoring moments.

The scene featuring John Cleese featured in 1975's "Gourmet Night" episode of the popular BBC comedy show, in which Basil has organised a special evening at Fawlty Towers.

But when his chef gets drunk, Basil has to go in search of replacement food - and that's when the car breaks down.

After warning it that he has lost his patience, Fawlty finds a branch and starts to attack his car.

Second place in the poll organised by Nat West Car Insurance was the car chase involving Mini Coopers in the cult film The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine.

The tragic death of Formula One ace Ayrton Senna in the Imola Grand Prix in 1994 was voted third.

[ image: Basil gives his car a final warning]
Basil gives his car a final warning
Fourth was James Bond, in the form of actor Sean Connery, driving an Aston Martin DB5 in the 007 films Goldfinger and Thunderball.

In fifth place was Steve McQueen driving a Ford Mustang in the title role of the film Bullitt.

The birth of the Model T Ford in 1909 came sixth.

The final scene from the film Thelma and Louise, in which the two stars, Geena Davies and Susan Sarandon, drive over the edge of the Grand Canyon was in seventh place.

[ image:  ]
Sir Malcolm Campbell's feat in breaking the land speed record in 1933 came in eighth.

And Damon Hill's triumph in the Formula One World Championship in 1996, when he won the title by taking the Japanese Grand Prix was ninth.

From speed to screen, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car from the film of the same name was 10th.

Although the Basil Fawlty scene topped the poll, respondents over the age of 45 chose the Italian Job chase as their personal favourite, while James Bond's Aston Martin was most popular with under-25s.

[ image: The Mini Cooper has cult status]
The Mini Cooper has cult status
Analysing the survey, Dr Graham Wagstaff, Reader in Psychology at Liverpool University, said that when asked to indicate something momentous, people tended to choose items familiar to them.

He said they would opt for things with colourful and emotional significance, such as those displayed in films or funny TV programmes.

He said: "The only item in the top 10 that does not really fit the description 'vivid' is the first Model T Ford."

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