John Cleese‘s ’70s sitcom Fawlty Towers only ran for two, six-episode seasons (S1 in 1975 and S2 in 1979) but it’s regarded as one of the best examples of the form. In it, Cleese played the ever-annoyed, put-upon Basil Fawlty who ran a hotel where something was always going wrong. In the days before DVD sets, or even VHS tapes, the BBC made records out of the episodes, editing them down and adding narration by Andrew Sachs (who played waiter Manuel). Those records have been out of print for decades but they’ve been repressed on vinyl, with a few episodes that were never released like this, for a new box set.
Titled Fawlty Towers: For The Record, the six-LP set features the original four BBC vinyl albums – Fawlty Towers, Second Sitting, At Your Service and A La Carte – plus two newly created collections, Plat du Jour and Enjoy Your Stay. The original BBC Records & Cassettes covers have been recreated for each volume, and the two new discs get faux period artwork. There’s also a booklet that chronicles the development of Fawlty Towers, and the history of the original LP releases. Of very special note: each one also comes with a 12” frameable art print of Basil, which John Cleese has personally signed.
Fawlty Towers: For The Record is limited to 1500 copies worldwide and will be released May 28 via Demon Records. Preorder yours. Artwork, tracklist and a trailer for the box set are below.
Being a sitcom from 40+ years ago, it is not surprising that Demon notes, “Fawlty Towers is a classic comedy which reflects the broadcast standards, language and attitudes of its time. Some listeners may find this content offensive. This edition features the original BBC Records LP edits.”
On that note, The BBC is reshowing Fawlty Towers on March 15 as part of the network’s Festival Of Funny celebration, but a few of the episodes have been edited to match the BBC’s current standards and practices, including a racist rant by recurring character Major Gowan in the episode “The Germans.” Cleese agreed to editing the scene back in 2013 but complained publicly when the episode was temporarily removed from the UKTV Play streaming platform, saying “The major was an old fossil. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?”
FAWLTY TOWERS: FOR THE RECORD BOX SET
LP 1: Fawlty Towers
The Hotel Inspector
LP 2: Second Sitting
Basil The Rat
LP 3: At Your Service
The Kipper and the Corpse
LP 4: A La Carte
LP 5: Plat Du Jour
A Touch of Class
The Wedding Party
LP 6: Enjoy Your Stay