Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Turning Frustrations into Fortune

The Monty Python team stayed in the Gleneagles Hotel in 1970 while it was filming in the English town of Torquay.

Michael Palin wrote this diary entry about their arrival on 11 May 1970:

“Mr. Sinclair, the proprietor, seemed to view us from the start as a colossal inconvenience, and when we arrived back from … watching the night filming, he just stood and looked at us with a look of self-righteous resentment, of tacit accusation, that I had not seen since my father waited up for me fifteen years ago. Graham [Chapman] tentatively asked for a brandy—the idea was dismissed.”

Mr Sinclair is said to have thrown Eric Idle's suitcase out of the window thinking it was a bomb.

He is also said to have reprimanded Terry Gilliam for not straightening his cutlery on the plate after he had eaten.

Michael Palin said, “That night, our first in Torquay, we decided to move out of the Gleneagles.” When Palin was publishing his diaries, his retrospective footnote says about this event, “Eric [Idle] and John [Cleese] decided to stay. In John’s case a lucrative decision as he later based Fawlty Towers on Gleneagles.”

John Cleese was fascinated with the eccentric behaviour of owner Donald Sinclair. Cleese later described Mr Sinclair - who died in 1981 - as "the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met."

Fawlty Towers has proved to be one of the most enduring sitcoms in TV history. Despite only running for 12 episodes in 1975-79, it regularly tops polls of favourite TV shows.

The hotel was saved from the developers because of the success of Fawlty Towers and the Gleneagles still gets a lot of customers who wanted to stay at the hotel because of its connection to the comedy.

Source: Michael Palin Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006.

Image: The Gleneagles Hotel