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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Fawlty Towers gets German makeover
Fawlty Towers
Fawlty Towers will move from Torquay to a German resort
Classic comedy Fawlty Towers is to be remade for German television - complete with its infamous "Don't mention the war" sketch.

The anarchic 70s sitcom, starring John Cleese as manic seaside guesthouse owner Basil Fawlty, will be moved from its original British resort to a similar German town.

Prunella Scales
Prunella Scales 's overbearing wife Sybil will be played by a German actor

German actors will take the lead roles of Basil and Sybil Fawlty - played by Prunella Scales, Polly, played by Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs' down-trodden Spanish waiter, Manuel.

A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide - the corporation's commercial arm - confirmed that it was in talks with a German TV company. She said that although the deal was not done and dusted, it was virtually in the bag.

Fawlty Towers, written by the husband and wife team of Cleese and Booth, first ran on the BBC between 1975 and 1979. Although, it has gone down in TV history as one of the all-time comedy greats, the series only ran for 12 programmes.

John Cleese
John Cleese characteristically lost the plot

One of the best remembered episodes sees Basil playing host to a family of German guests. Inevitably, things descend into chaos as his exaggerated lengths to avoid any references to World War II prove as subtle as a brick.

German favourite

Still to be decided in the deal with German TV is how they handle this episode, which climaxes with Basil goose-stepping around the dining room with a bandage on his head and a finger stuck under his nose.

It is, however, likely that a German Fawlty Towers would remain faithful to the original. The series is already a favourite export to the country and was first shown there in 1993.

Moreover, the contentious goose-stepping episode proved to be one of the most popular when shown by the cable channel 3-sat.

Connie Booth
Connie Booth played Polly but also co-wrote the series

A spokeswoman for the station said German audiences were most keen on the slapstick elements - especially the violence shown by Basil towards Manuel. The "Don't mention the war" scene did not cause offence, she said.

The German show will not be the first international makeover for the series. The US network CBS transformed the Torquay hotel into Whispering Pines with a landlord called Royal Payn.

However, despite large amounts of cash pumped into the remake, the US critics panned it.

The Fawlty Towers deal is part of an ongoing BBC Worldwide initiative to sell a number of popular BBC programmes to countries abroad.

Another possible foreign makeover could be on the cards for the political sitcom Yes, Minister, which is said to be of particular interest to India.

See also:

08 Oct 99 | Monty Python
Three decades of Python
05 May 00 | Entertainment
Cleese makes internet history
23 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Dad's Army tops comedy poll
21 Oct 99 | UK
Basil's road rage tops poll
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