Torbay Council has given the green light for the demolition of a hotel that was the inspiration for John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers comedy series. The council has allowed an application to change the usage designation of the Gleneagles Hotel site in Torquay from holiday accommodation to residential.
Churchill Retirement Living plans to knock down the 41-bedroom three-star hotel and its iconic Basil’s Bar and Brasserie. In its place, the retirement home developer will build 32 one and two bedroom flats plus two communal lounges.
The company’s original application to build 36 flats was turned down by the council as its planning committee deemed the building was too large and would not fit in with the surrounding district. Gleneagles closed earlier in 2015 and the council allowed the usage change as it was no longer financially viable to be operated as a hotel.
John Cleese created Basil Fawlty and Fawlty Towers after he and the Monty Python team stayed at Gleneagles in the 1970s. Cleese later described then owner Donald Sinclair as the rudest man he had ever met. He claimed that the only difference between Sinclair and Basil was that the latter was a lot taller.
Cleese and his co-stars, including the disaster prone Manuel, made just two six-episode series of Fawlty Towers, one in 1975 and the other in 1979. Despite this, the British Film Institute named it as number one of its Top 100 Greatest Television Programmes of all time in the year 2000.