Fine dining Faulty style

Basil ‘Faulty’ in a fit of pique tossed a small yellow inspirational book into the Bristol Channel at Weston-super-Mare on Friday night.

The book Look On The Bright Side: Ideas And Inspiration To Make You Feel Great by Sophie Golding costing £9.99 from Waterstones had been bought as a birthday present for a 70-year-old known for his sometimes melancholy outlook on life.

Not this evening though because as the water-logged hardback bobbed up and down on the waves the belly-laughter emanating from the birthday boy was a treat to behold.

The man of the hour and his companions were ‘enjoying’ a Faulty Towers The Dining Experience at the Grand Pier which for the occasion had transformed its Regency Suite to resemble the Torquay hotel of the 1970s BBC2 sitcom.

Actors played the roles created by Weston-born John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth aka Basil and Sybil Fawlty plus the Andrew Sachs character Manuel.

You knew it was all going to go tits-up from the moment Basil took charge of the ‘meet and greet’ and seating arrangements for this full house (I counted 12 tables each seating 12 guests).

The downhill direction became clear when Manuel served the bread rolls for the first course of potato and leek soup with tennis-style lobs to the surprised guests. There were lots of butter fingers.

We ran out of vegetables and were quickly given a raw onion, stick of celery and a red pepper plus leftovers from another table.

The chicken supreme isn’t five star but it was passable and piping hot. For mass catering the food it was v.good – that’s if you don’t have to retrieve stuff from the floor and find you have two forks and no knife to eat with!

Chaos rules with fire extinguishers going off, evacuation drills mis-performed, dirty plates stacked ceiling height crashing to the floor, hilarious aerobic table-top antics all mixed with acidic one-liners delivered with deadpan wit that could have come from the TV stars themselves.

It was while doing the birthday announcements (two 60s and our septuagenarian) that a red-wine sipping ‘Sybil’ tottering on stilettos, wearing a twee tweed two-piece and sporting her infamous bouffant hairstyle borrowed from Mrs Slocombe of Are You Being Served? fame noticed the birthday book sitting on the table.

This in turn was spied by a manic Basil who seized the small words of wisdom and ran headlong towards the veranda door to dispatch with glee the aforementioned tiny tome into the Atlantic gale blowing outside.

Basil was played marvellously by Jonathon Saunders aided and abetted by Danielle Brier as Sybil and James Heatlie was Manuel for the Weston gig.

All should take a bow - they should be Oscar-nomimated performances.

​This was the second ‘dining experience’ our group had attended – the first was Dinner With Fanny And Johnnie Cradock a ‘trop cuit’ cookery demonstration by the Show of Strength theatre company in a Bristol hotel.

It was so good we were determined to have a second helping and the Faulty Towers didn’t disappoint.

A lanky moustached Basil does mention the war, condescending Sybil sings and calamitous Manuel’s spoken English hasn’t improved one iota.

Using storylines from the original show - Manuel’s pet rat, Basil’s gambling – the actors were amazing with set pieces mixed with ad libs and the audience roared with laughter.

Performed by a brilliant band of thespians who use a theatrical script which often goes off piste several times this show has all the ingredients of a multi-sensory foodie fun treat.

The show has played fringe festivals at home and away plus tours in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean with an ongoing residency in London theatreland – there are several trios of actors taking the parts.

The Observer reporter Nosheen Iqbal wrote about this phenomenon in the Sunday newspaper this weekend describing the event as ‘immersive theatre’ and cheaper than building a new fairground ride.

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is back in Weston again on Friday, April 17, book early as it is sure to sell-out.

It costs £50 for a set three-course meal with coffee and mints and there is a vegetarian main course option.

Carol Deacon

Weston birthplace of Basil

PREVIEW PUBLISHED BY NAILSEA PEOPLE DECEMBER 2019:

Give the gift of laughter this Christmas

A top tourist attraction has a cracking idea for a Christmas present which is guaranteed to bring a smile to someone’s face; why not give the gift of laughter?

If you’re stumped for ideas for a family member, the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare has something which is just the ticket; a night of madcap comedy and fine food.

On Friday, January 31, the Pier will once again play host to the popular Faulty Towers Dining Experience.

Tickets for this event make the perfect present as they will provide someone with an evening they will never forget.

The event is officially the world’s longest-running and most successful tribute to the legendary BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers.

The ‘outrageously funny’ experience has enjoyed sell-out success all over the world, from Sydney Opera House to London’s West End, as well as playing at Edinburgh Fringe.

A talented team of actors bring the classic comedy characters to life in a fully immersive, highly-interactive evening, dishing up plenty of delights to diners.

Service with a scowl will be the order of the day as guests get a taste of that unique customer service offered by Basil, Sybil and Manuel, with all the chaos and confusion that made the BBC show such a favourite with generations of viewers.

Grand Pier spokesman Lucy Graham said: “This is a very popular event, and with 70 per cent of the show being improvised, it can truly be said that it’s never the same twice.

“So, if you’re struggling to think of what to buy someone for Christmas, why not treat them to tickets to the Faulty Towers Dining Experience, where they can enjoy fine food, lots of laughs and a brilliant night out.”

For ticket details about this, as well as information about the wide range of events, attractions and activities available at the Grand Pier all year round, visit www.grandpier.co.uk

This not-for-profit online newspaper is managed by Carol Deacon former editor of award-winning Clevedon Mercury titles and powered by Wix.com