Basil the rat - classic Fawlty Towers video

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Basil the rat - classic Fawlty Towers video

Considered by John Cleese and Andrew Sachs (Manuel) as their favorite the final installment in Fawlty Towers was delayed 6 months owing to an actors strike, The downtime was spent refining the script and resulted in this perfect farce.

After the Fawltys arrive back at the hotel after an outing, Basil enters the kitchen to find a man searching through the fridge. Basil starts to make fun of him (joking that he's "opened up the self-service"), only to discover that he is a Health and Safety inspector named Mr. Carnegie. After routine checks, Carnegie adopts a firm and serious tone with Basil because the premises do not meet the standards set out by the authority. He reels off a list of problems in the kitchen alone, including the fact that there are two dead pigeons in the water tank.

Mr. Carnegie informs Basil that he expects all the problems to have been rectified when he returns the following day, or else the hotel could face closure or even prosecution. Terrified by this abrupt warning, Sybil, Polly and Terry all get to work straight away whilst Basil goes upstairs to get Manuel to get the pigeons out of the water tank.

Manuel at first thinks Basil means pigs and laughs when told that they "flew up," but Basil clears the confusion. Basil notices that Manuel is keeping a pet rat in a small cage in his room, having been conned into thinking that it's a Siberian hamster. Basil, afraid that the health inspector will take issue with it, takes it.

Infuriated, Manuel threatens to resign, and it is debated what to do with it. Polly tells Basil that she has a friend who will look after the rat and that Manuel will still be able to visit it. Manuel agrees, but he and Polly instead take the rat into a hidden outbuilding behind the hotel. Foolishly, however, Manuel lets the rat out of the cage to exercise, and it returns to the hotel. Manuel realises this and informs Polly and Terry, who go on a discreet rat hunt.

The Major, who is reading his newspaper in the hotel bar, sees the rat in the bar and gets his shotgun. He informs Basil of the rat's presence, alerting Basil to the fact that it was never taken away. He angrily confronts the three, before deciding to join in on the rat hunt ("We can deal with the sackings later"). During the search, Basil applies rat poison to a veal cutlet and puts it on the floor in the kitchen. Mr. Carnegie arrives to re-inspect as the rat hunt is in full swing. The Major discovers the rat again and, after alerting them to the bar, tries to tell them he saw it. Basil silences the Major (by jabbing him in the groin with the butt of the shotgun) and downplays the event, before getting the Major to claim he was shooting a Starling.

At the same time, Manuel is asking about his rat, and Polly, worried about discussing it in front of Carnegie, tells him that chef puts a lot of "basil" in the Ratatouille. Panicking, Manuel runs into the kitchen, only to be informed by Terry that "I haven't made any bleedin' ratatouille!" After panicking again, Manuel knocks a tray of veal on the floor. Terry picks them all up, not realising that one is covered in rat poison. To make things worse, every single one of the guests who arrives afterwards orders veal. Basil remembers poisoning one slice, and claims that the veal is off to the guests (even though some have already had their veal placed in front of them).

Having declared that the hotel is now up to standard, Mr. Carnegie decides to stay for lunch, and asks for veal. They are unable to persuade Carnegie to have something else and have no means of telling which veal is the poisoned one. Terry remembers that Basil had removed a slice of veal that had been chewed on by their cat, which is not displaying signs of poisoning, indicating that the slice is not poisoned.

After locating, cleaning and cooking it, Carnegie is served his veal. However, moments after, Basil retrieves it after he walks out the back and sees the cat choking. This creates more confusion in the kitchen and bewilderment from Carnegie, especially after it turns out that the cat was, by extremely remarkable coincidence, throwing up a fur ball when Basil had seen it.

Meanwhile, Manuel spots the rat in the dining room, at the feet of a young woman named Quentina and her posh accented but short-tempered boyfriend, Ronald. When they are neglected, Ronald complains to Basil that Manuel is ignoring him. Basil who tells him there is a bread slice there, and orders Manuel to get a box.

Ronald also orders veal, but is told it is off, only to see Carnegie being served his veal. Annoyed, they decide to have lunch elsewhere. Unfortunately, the rat is now in Quentina's handbag. She catches him trying to fish it out, and he is only saved from a "bunch of fives" by Ronald after Polly says that there has been a bomb scare. Unfortunately, the rat bites Basil and escapes into the dining room. After much discreet chasing about, Manuel catches and hides it in a biscuit box. When he turns around for a moment, the Major takes the box for a biscuit. Manuel does not see this and searches for the box.

Carnegie finishes lunch and asks for some coffee, cheese and biscuits for afters. The Major unkowingly hands Polly the box containing the rat. On opening the lid, the rat's head pops up and looks directly into Mr Carnegie's face.

Carnegie is speechless, especially when Basil asks "would you care for rat, or..." Polly removes the rat and returns to Carnegie, who seems to have convinced himself that he was really imagining it. With Carnegie satisfied, Sybil ends the series with the line "I'm afraid it's started to rain again," which she uses to distract Carnegie as Manuel drags Basil, who has fainted offscreen, out of the dining room.

basil-rat.jpg - 14.14kb
By netchicken: posted on 26-6-2010

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