Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Fawlty Towers (1975, 79)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'The Germans' (originally transmitted on BBC2, 24/10/1975)

Sybil is in hospital, awaiting an operation to have an in-growing toenail removed. She nags Basil, reminding him that there will be a fire drill at the hotel the following day, that he must hang a moose head which is littering the hallway, and that some German guests will be arriving.

At the Hotel, Basil attempts to hang the moose's head. He is interrupted by the telephone. After calling for Manuel, who doesn't appear, Basil takes the call; it is Sybil, reminding him about the moose. Manuel arrives. Basil leaves to find a hammer. The Major mistakes Manuel talking for the moose.

After Basil returns with the hammer, Polly answers a second call from Sybil. She gives a running commentary as Basil is struck on the head by the moose, then trips over Manuel.

Next morning, Basil forewarns the guests about the fire drill. The burglar alarm goes off. The guests mistake it for the drill and start to leave. Basil calls them back. After much confusion over the two bells, Basil sets them both off in order to show them the difference, before finally starting the drill. The guests leave. Manuel is ushered into the kitchen, where he inadvertently starts a fire. He panics. Basil assumes he is confused about the drill, reassures him there is no fire, and pushes him back into the kitchen. Realising that there is a fire, Basil attempts to put it out, but sprays the extinguisher in his own face, then is struck on the head by the frying pan Manuel is clutching.

Basil wakes up in hospital, concussed. He feigns sleep then escapes and returns to Fawlty Towers. He attempts to hold a conversation with some German guests, and urges Polly not to mention the war. Polly telephones for the doctor.

After Basil has mentioned the war several times, a German guest begins to cry. In an attempt to cheer her up, Basil tells anti-Nazi jokes and does an impression of Hitler, complete with 'funny walk'.

The doctor arrives to take Basil back to the hospital. A chase ensues, culminating in disaster as Basil hits Manuel over the head, only to be struck down himself by the moose falling from the wall. The Major once again mistakes Manuel's voice for that of the moose. An incredulous German guest asks 'however did they win?'