Fawlty_typers

September 1975 – A wide-carriage Olympia manual typewriter is sighted in a hotel on “the English Riviera” (Torquay) – or to be more specific – makes an  appearance in the opening scene of  “A Touch of Class” – the first broadcast episode of the classic BBC sit-com, Fawlty Towers.

olympia_fawlty

My best guess is an early 1970’s Olympia SM9 De Luxe (a later model with a more slimline design and a wide carriage) – although after an online search I haven’t been able to find a typewriter with a footprint as wide as the carriage – however I did note that this typewriter is not dissimilar in size and shape to an electric “Olympia Report”, so possibly it’s a manual predecessor to that model?

The “Fawlty Typer” –  situated as it is on the reception desk in the hotel lobby – appears regularly in subsequent episodes (except episode 5) of the first series.

Fawlty_basil_types_menu0

Above and below, we see the Olympia being used by hen-pecked Basil (John Cleese) to type-up a guest’s bill, under instruction from his on-screen wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales).

Fawlty_basil_types_menu_sybil

Below, we see a shot of the same typewriter with chambermaid Polly (played by Connie Booth, the then wife of John Cleese in real-life)…

Fawlty_polly_typewriter

At the end of the series (Episode 6: “The Germans”) the typewriter is put to less conventional use during an abortive fire drill which escalates into a real fire emergency.

In an attempt to stop the alarm bell ringing, Basil picks up the typewriter…

olympias_heavy_basil

… clearly it’s not a very portable model …

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… and aims it at a fire alarm control box on the wall…

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… of course, his aim misses completely…

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.. and the typewriter disappears through the door of the inner office, never to be seen again.

In Series 2, the jettisoned Olympia (probably now truly “faulty”) has been replaced by a lighter model …

 fawlty_sybil_olympia

… and what appears to be an Olympia Traveller…

OlympiaTraveller_series2

… or is it an Olympiette?

OlympiaTraveller_sybil

Whichever it is, it can be dated prior to February 1979. when the first episode of the second series “Communication Problems” was first broadcast.

Here’s a modified-for-the-Typosphere extract from “The Germans” – taken from my copy of “The Complete Fawlty Towers”  – published by Methuen-Mandarin, 1989.

BASIL. (to the Major) We’ve got some Germans arriving tomorrow morning, so Polly’s brushing up another one of her languages.

MAJOR.  Germans! Coming here!

BASIL. Just for a couple of days, Major…

MAJOR. I don’t much care for Germans!

BASIL. I know what you mean, but…

MAJOR. A bunch of Krauts! That’s what they are, all of ’em. Bad eggs!

BASIL. Yes, well, forgive and forget, Major…

MAJOR. You’ve got to love ’em, though, I suppose, haven’t you?

BASIL. … Germans?

MAJOR.  No, no – typewriters! Hate Germans!

POLLY. What about German typewriters?

MAJOR. Good typers… but mind, I wouldn’t give ’em the time of day…

A Quick Fawlty Update

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