Excellence is in the Details

Fawlty Towers is rightly considered one of the greatest television shows in the history of television. So it’s interesting to learn this little detail about it from the man married to the actress who played Sybil Fawlty.

It wasn’t just the lines that Pru and the cast had to familiarise themselves with.

‘In the case of Fawlty Towers, the devil was in the detail.

In addition to writing the dialogue, John and Connie had gone to great pains to explain exactly what was happening in each scene and why. Put it this way: the script for a 30-minute episode of a sitcom would normally be around 60 pages long, but for Fawlty Towers they were something approaching 140.

In other words, the reason Fawlty Towers so often resembled the synchronized perfection of an oft-shown play or musical is because it was essentially written as a play, with the script containing the choreography and the character motivations as well as the dialogue.

While it doesn’t rise to the level of Tolkien’s invented histories and languages, or Umberto Eco’s recreation in string of his monastery in order to time the length of the conversations properly, it does serve as a spur to the creative mind to up his creative game.