Where were Fawlty Towers episodes filmed? Location of BBC sitcom, was it in Torquay - does hotel still exist

John Cleese was inspired to create his hit sitcom Fawlty Towers after a stay at a Torquay hotel whilst filming Monty Python’s Flying Circus

BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers is getting a third series after more than four decades off air. John Cleese will return for the new season and will be joined by his daughter who was not even born when the last season first aired.

Cleese was inspired to make what would become one of Britain’s most loved sitcoms whilst filming another iconic comedy series. Whilst shooting Monty Python’s Flying Circus in 1971, he and the other Pythons stayed for one night at the Gleneagles hotel in Torquay, Devon.

During his short stay, Cleese saw the potential for a sitcom set in a Torquay hotel staffed by a rude owner and his domineering wife. Four years after his visit, the first episode of Fawlty Towers aired, and the rest is history.

The series was set in a hotel in Torquay, much like the one Cleese visited, but the show was actually filmed 200 miles away.

Exterior shots for Fawlty Towers were filmed in BuckinghamshireExterior shots for Fawlty Towers were filmed in Buckinghamshire
Exterior shots for Fawlty Towers were filmed in Buckinghamshire

Where was Fawlty Towers filmed?

Despite being set in Torquay on the South West coast, the main scenes in the series were shot in Thames Valley. The majority of interior scenes were filmed at the BBC’s old Television Centre at Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Other scenes, such as the infamous moment where Basil’s car breaks down, were shot in Harrow. Additionally, the exterior shots of the iconic hotel were filmed in High Wycombe,  Buckinghamshire.

The Wooburn Grange Country Club stood in for Basil’s hotel. It was featured in the opening shot of every episode except for the season one finale, ‘The Germans’ and a sign at the front of the property, supposed to read Fawlty Towers, was often misspelt or missing letters as a recurring visual gag.

Does the Fawlty Towers hotel still exist?

Sadly the Wooburn Grange Country Club burnt down in 1991 and was later demolished. Residential homes have since been built on the site.

The hotel that inspired the series has also since been demolished - The Guardian reported in 2016 that the Gleneagles hotel was being knocked down and replaced with retirement homes.

Fawlty Towers will return more than 40 years after the sitcom first endedFawlty Towers will return more than 40 years after the sitcom first ended
Fawlty Towers will return more than 40 years after the sitcom first ended

The Sachs Lodge retirement home, where the hotel used to stand, was awarded a blue plaque in 2017 which reads: Sachs Lodge, previously the Gleneagles hotel (the hotel and its staff became the inspiration for the 1970’s TV series Fawlty Towers).

Where will the Fawlty Towers reboot be filmed?

The Fawlty Towers reboot is believed to be in pre-production and it has not yet confirmed where it will be filmed. The series will see John Cleese return to the role of Basil Fawlty, he will be joined by his daughter Camilla, who will play Basil’s newly discovered daughter.

It’s possible that the series will be shot at the BBC’s Television Centre which - the site was refurbished in 2013 and reopened in 2017 with three studios dedicated to TV production.

A new location will also have to be found for exterior shots of Basil’s hotel as the original building no longer exists. However, it is believed that the series will see Basil take on a new hotel, so this may have been the case anyway.

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