Our English Classes

A blog for Maribel's students at EOI and CEP Granada

Fawlty Towers: stereotypes in action

Posted by maribel on 01/12/2010

Fawlty Towers is a famous British sitcom produced by BBC Television and first broadcast on BBC2 in 1975. The setting is a fictional hotel of the same name located in the seaside town of Torquay.

The series focuses on the misadventures of hotelier Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil, and their employees, porter and waiter Manuel, maid Polly, and chef Terry. The episodes typically revolve around Basil’s efforts to succeed in improving the quality of his hotel and his increasing frustration at the numerous complications and mistakes, both his own and those of others, which prevent him from doing so.

Around the time the series was created British hotel owners often employed foreigners who could not speak English, which often resulted in communication problems with the guests and the rest of the staff. Manuel was included as a representative of these foreign workers. He is a Spanish waiter, well-meaning but disorganised and constantly confused. He is from Barcelona and has a limited grasp of the English language and customs.

Manuel is a less than flattering stereotype. The character’s nationality was switched to an Italian from Naples called Paolo for the Spanish dub of the show broadcast in Spain. In the Catalonian TV3 channel, Manuel’s origin was changed from Barcelona to Mexico. The version dubbed into French also gives his nationality as Mexican.

Watch the extremely funny Manuel in action:

Fawlty Towers at BBC Online.

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