A couple of weeks ago, I had the absolute privilege of being invited down into the hilariously chaotic world of Fawlty Towers. Being a huge fan of the show, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to expectations, but I have to say, this was genuinely one of my favourite London experiences to date. Held at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, a 5 minute walk from Tottenham Court Road, ‘The Faulty Towers Dining Experience’ is an immersive live theatre show, where guests are served a three-course meal by Basil, Sybil and Manuel.
For those who are unfamiliar with the show, Fawlty Towers was a hit British television series that ran for only two seasons, in 1975 and 1979. Despite its short life, it is still talked about today, due to its extreme physical comedy and memorable characters. Lucky for you, you can now relive the slapstick, hilarity, and utter craziness of the show at the internationally acclaimed ‘Faulty Towers Dining Experience’ that is now booking six shows a week for the whole of 2018!
It comes as no surprise that this show ranks consistently high in Trip Advisor’s ‘Top London Theatre Listings’ and holds Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for 2015, 2016 and 2017. It is a worldwide hit, being performed in over 20 countries, and has been receiving awards since 2009.
Now, you may have noticed the difference in spelling between the TV series ‘Fawlty Towers’ and the ‘Faulty Towers Dining Experience’. This is deliberate. The dining experience began touring in Australia in 1997, when the original cast were still young enough to play the part. To avoid any disappointed fans expecting to see John Cleese and co, the name was slightly altered.
As guests gathered in the waiting area, sipping on drinks bought from the hotel bar, Basil entered the room and began mingling. Everything from his mannerisms to his voice sounded exactly like John Cleese, making it incredibly realistic and believable. A few minutes later, Manuel stumbled in, and I immediately felt like I had been transported back to the 1970’s. Basil asked him to collect people’s glasses before we could be seated for our meal. Of course, Manuel misinterprets everything Basil says to him, and began removing people’s glasses from their faces. This leads on to Basil asking him to serve the guests some nuts, and as instructed, Manuel proceeds to literally “serve” the nuts like a tennis serve. These constant misunderstandings between Manuel and Basil, make the experience side-splitting from start to finish.
Let’s not forget about Sybil. You could hear her raucous laugh from the kitchen! As always, her duty was to try and return some order to the night, continuing to tell off Basil which led to him nicknaming her “the dragon” but cowering back to his famous “yes dear” whenever she re-entered the room.
After hearing mixed reviews about the food, I was slightly concerned as to what we would receive, but I really enjoyed it and thought the food was so much nicer than I expected. We were served soup to start (with nothing quite going to plan of course). Manuel “dropped” my bread roll on the floor and some poor lady found false teeth in her soup! There is absolutely no order to how they serve out the food either. My friend received his soup before anyone else on the table, and instead of then proceeding to serve other people around him, the next bowl of soup was given to someone on the other side of the room. This “terrible” service makes the experience incredibly entertaining and stays true to what dining at Fawlty Towers would have been like.
A lot of classic scenes from the TV show were of course recreated – from Manuel losing his pet “hamster” (aka rat), to Basil managing to find a German guest at a table, and breaking out into the infamous Hitler march, all whilst continuing to tell other guests not to “mention the war”. The hugely anticipated “horse bet” scene, where Basil asked Manuel to put some money on his horse and not to tell anyone is also thrown in there. When Sybil asks Manuel what the money was for, he perfectly executed the reply everyone was waiting for….” I know nothing”. There’s even a singalong to Viva España when Manuel is told to “wait on a table” which you guessed it, he takes literally.
The ending to our particular experience was brilliant. Sadly, Manuel was inevitably fired, but staying true to the character, he of course misunderstood and thought Basil was telling him there was a fire. Grabbing the fire extinguisher, he ran around the room screaming Fire! Fire!
The show lasts for approximately 2 hours and is only 1/3 scripted, meaning you will never see the same show twice. The best part? I got to meet the cast! For my show, I had Meredith Colchester as Basil, Leigh Kelly as Manuel and Karina Garnett as Sybil. All three were truly amazing!
I would highly recommend this experience for fans of the show. In fact, you don’t even need to have seen Fawlty Towers to enjoy what’s in store. This experience provides plenty of laughs and interaction so it’s ideal for both comedy fans and theatre fans. The interactive and immersive element of the show, makes it a completely unique thing to do in London that is definitely different from your average theatre performance…..or dinner date for that matter!
For more info and to book, check out their website: Faulty Towers