Mr. Hamilton: What I'm suggesting is that this place is the... the crummiest, shoddiest, worst-run hotel in the whole of Western Europe.
Major Gowen: No! No, I won't have that! There's a place in Eastbourne.The Kipper and the Corpse TX: 12/03/79
Let me start off by saying that to me Geoffrey Palmer is the look of 1970s male in British comedies. This is all based on watching PBS when I was younger. I have come to this astute reality from years of watching The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Butterflies and this guest appearance in Fawlty Towers. The way he looks and acts personified my own enjoyment of those series. For him to turn up in this episode as a doctor is fitting and wonderful. Of course The Kipper and the Corpse could be a great Agatha Christie title too.In this very classic episode, things for some reason are still busy at Fawlty Towers. Why people keep staying there is beyond my understanding. Once again, Basil should be pleased there wasn’t an Internet back then. One of the guests, Mr. Leeman, has come back to the hotel and will be picked up by his business associates the next morning. The problem is that Mr. Leeman isn’t feeling very well at all. Before retiring for the night, he requests for breakfast to be served in bed which Fawlty is cannot believe. As Fawlty puts it, “Most of our guests manage to struggle down to breakfast in the morning.” As Basil passes Leeman in the lobby, Basil says goodnight to Leeman who is ill and does not respond. Basil gets his attention again so Leeman is forced to say goodnight. Sybil takes Basil to task for this with which he replies, “He only needs to say goodnight; not recite the Gettysburg address.” Love that line!
The next morning while preparing breakfast, Fawlty realises that the Kippers are past their expiration date. Apparently Fawlty is the only one in the kitchen who is concerned about this. Fawlty delivers the breakfast to the lifeless body of Mr. Leeman and drops it off. Realizing that he forgot to bring up the milk, he asks Polly to do so. Polly comes back down to alert everyone that Mr. Leeman is dead. Of course Basil thinks immediately it is the Kippers but everyone else can see that Mr. Leeman has been dead for some time. They bring up Dr. Price (whose only goal is to have some sausages for breakfast) and he confirms that the body has been dead for some time. Dr. Price is puzzled by the ability Basil has to serve breakfast to this man but not realise he is dead! They are given permission to move the body until someone can come by and pick him up. That’s when all hell breaks loose.This becomes a tour de force in comedy that had me literally crying with laughter. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. This episode never illicit that kind of reaction before but this time it was too funny. I can’t even do it justice here. You can read what I am writing about but you need to seek this out to watch it. Basil and Manuel cover Leeman’s body so they can quietly move him to somewhere else. That is until old Miss Tibbs finds them. She tries to help them until she realizes they are carrying a dead body. She becomes hysterical. She is absolutely hysterical to the point of screaming “Murder!” To calm her down, Polly slaps her. She slaps her so hard Miss Tibbs just falls to the ground. The funny part about this scene isn’t so much that Polly struck Miss Tibbs but more of gasps of the audience when she does it. The next shot is two bodies lying on the floor: Mr. Leeman and Miss Tibbs. They now need to hide both bodies but Mr. & Mrs. White are coming up the stairs. “Oh, spiffing. Absolutely spiffing. Well done. Two dead, twenty-five to go.”
Of course they hide both bodies in the cabinet of the Whites who need to get in their room as they are doing some sightseeing. While everyone is in the White’s room, Miss Tibbs regains consciousness and begins to moan from within the cabinet. In fact, that is one of the highlights of the episode is that every time Miss Tibbs would see Mr. Leeman’s lifeless body she would have this distinctive unholy scream. I am laughing even just thinking about it now. The whole episode culminates into Basil and Manuel carrying this body around the hotel trying to avoid people seeing it. The White’s while driving their car see Basil and Manuel carrying the body outside; the Whites pay so much attention to those two carrying the body, they get in a car accident. Later they are interrupted as Mrs. White is trying to nap in her room Basil & Manuel try to bring the body in there. It prompts Polly to pull the covers over Mrs. White which leads her to fall out of her bed. They try moving him into the kitchen but Dr. Price is making sausages in himself since no one will make them for him. The sausages were burned twice and when Dr. Price finally does get his sausages made, they are off as in no good.One of my favourite lines in the episode as Fawlty is talking in the kitchen to Sybil, Manuel, Polly and Terry about how Mr. Leeman did not acknowledge him in his room at all when Basil dropped off the breakfast:
Basil Fawlty: Are you listening to me? Hello, can... Hello, can anybody hear me? Have I ceased to exist? Have I suddenly become invisible? Sybil, Sybil, Sybil, can you see me?Sybil Fawlty: No.
Basil Fawlty: Oh, good. Well, I'll go and lie down then. No, I won't; I'll go and hit some guests.I have something to admit. It will sound very odd but I find Sybil strangely sexy. Especially in the Series 2 episodes. Am I odd? Of course this episode takes part as the final series for Fawlty Towers. As I mentioned above, I watched this from the newly remastered DVD set released a couple of years ago. I have spent a long time tracking down a nice PAL copy of this series. For some reason for me, Fawlty Towers needed to be a PAL copy. What is really, really nice about this set is not the remastered picture or the extended interviews. It’s the fact that there are no on-screen titles for the episodes. I seem to remember many of the other releases had on-screen titles. They were not there on original broadcast and they do not need to be added after the fact. One thing I do wish they would have included on the set is some of the quick Basil Fawlty openings that were done for Not the Nine O’Clock News. It’s a nice piece that is for the completest. Did you say you never seen them before? Alright, here is one for your enjoyment!
I mention how Basil is lucky or unlucky that he never had the Internet around while running his modest hotel. I am not quite so sure. Here is a place in Cocoa Beach Florida called Fawlty Towers: http://www.fawltytowersresort.com/Pages/rules.html
- This is a relaxed environment and must remain non-threatening and non-sexual at all times.
- Swingers and talk of swinging is prohibited on this property and will not be tolerated.
- Singles may not make internet bookings (they must call ahead to be pre-approved).
- Sexual and provocative clothing is not acceptable.
- All rooms are non-smoking (there is a $100.00 fine for breaking this rule). Smoking is allowed outside your room and in designated areas, please ask at reception for information and ash trays.
- Unregistered guests and or visitors will be charged $50.00 per person.
- All alcohol consumed in recreation areas during bar hours must be purchased from the bar.
- Cameras and video recorders are not acceptable. Cell phone use should be kept to a minimum and not used for the above reasons.
Apparently it is a Clothing Optional Resort which also sounds to me very much like Basil!Happy 100!
This article marks post #100 for me. It almost seems fitting that it would be about something I love as much a Fawlty Towers. I greatly enjoy doing this blog; thank you for coming back and reading it. It means everything to me.
Next Week: From Thunderbirds to UFO and Four Feathers Fall to B, Gerry Anderson gave millions of children access to action and danger through the art of Supermarionation. With Gerry’s passing I wanted to watch some of my favourite series and explain why Thunderbirds will always have such a special place in my heart. Next week is my Gerry Anderson Tribute.Happy New Year and have a great week!
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