Waldorf Salad (Fawlty Towers)

"Waldorf Salad" is the third episode of the second series of the BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers. Directed by Bob Spiers, it first aired on 5 March 1979.[1]

"Waldorf Salad"
Fawlty Towers episode
Fawlty Towers Waldorf.jpg
Basil Fawlty attending to
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 3
Directed byBob Spiers
Written byJohn Cleese & Connie Booth
Production code8
Original air date5 March 1979
Episode chronology
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"The Psychiatrist"
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"The Kipper and the Corpse"
List of Fawlty Towers episodes


Dinner is exceptionally busy at the hotel, and the guests complain to Sybil about the quality of the service. However, when Basil checks with the guests, they do not mention their complaints. As service winds down, a new couple arrives, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton; while Mrs. Hamilton is British, her husband is American, and runs a list of complaints about their travels from London compared with the United States. Because of their late arrival, Mr. Hamilton asks Basil to bribe the cook to keep the kitchen open so they can have a meal after they have unpacked. Basil tries to trick Terry the chef with only half of what Mr. Hamilton gave him. Terry agrees, but claims it will cause him to miss a karate class, but then Polly reveals that she, Terry, Manuel, and Terry's Finnish girlfriend were to have a night out. Irritated by Terry's fib, Basil sends them on their way, intending to cook for the Hamiltons himself.

The Hamiltons first ask for screwdrivers, of which Basil has never heard, irritating Mr. Hamilton. They ask for a Waldorf salad, an item not on the menu, followed by two rare steaks.[2] Basil similarly has no idea what goes into a Waldorf salad, and his attempts to make it are criticised by Mr. Hamilton. Basil returns to the kitchen and shouts loudly as if he were yelling at the cook. Basil makes other excuses, unaware that Sybil has been able to prepare and serve the proper dish. Basil, on discovering this, faux-yells at the chef, but Sybil follows him into the kitchen and slaps Basil for his antics. Later, Basil reads a letter supposedly from Terry that puts all the blame on the chef, but during this, the unattended steaks start to burn, and draw the guests to the lobby.

Mr. Hamilton yells at Basil, stating the hotel is a disgrace to Western Europe, and Basil is comparable to Donald Duck. Basil coerces the other guests to acknowledge the quality of his hotel, but as he continues to argue with Mr. Hamilton, the other guests start venting their own problems. Mr. Hamilton laughs at Basil as he goes off to pack his bags. Basil snaps at the other guests, comparing them to Nazi Germany, and insisting to Sybil that either the guests go, or he does. Sybil stares at him, and Basil quickly exits the hotel, only to return minutes later, requesting a room and breakfast in bed complete with a Waldorf salad and screwdrivers.




The episode has been described as being "massively popular" and a great success commercially internationally in the 1980s and 1990s.[3] Along with "The Germans", it is generally considered one of the most popular and famous episodes.[citation needed] Its source of amusement derives from the cultural differences between the Americans and the British and the perceived differences in manners. The American is very rude in expecting food which is not on the menu and complaining about the service in contrast to the English guests who are very guarded when it comes to complaining.[3] The book Great, Grand & Famous Hotels remarked that "Fawlty Towers is real to everybody who has ever worked in a hotel, anybody who has ever stayed in one, or anyone who has ever tried, unsuccessfully, to order a Waldorf salad."[4]


  1. ^ Robert Ross (May 1999). Monty Python encyclopedia. TV Books. ISBN 978-1-57500-036-7. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  2. ^ Gubler, Fritz (25 December 2008). Waldorf hysteria: hotel manners, misbehaviour & minibars. Great, Grand & Famous Hotels. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-9804667-1-3. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b Ashley, Bob (28 June 2004). Food and cultural studies. Psychology Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-415-27038-0. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  4. ^ Gubler, Fritz; Glynn, Raewyn (25 September 2008). Great, grand & famous hotels. Great, Grand & Famous Hotels. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-9804667-0-6. Retrieved 17 February 2012.


  • Fawlty Towers: A Worshipper's Companion, Leo Publishing, ISBN 91-973661-8-8
  • The Complete Fawlty Towers by John Cleese & Connie Booth (1988, Methuen, London) ISBN 0-413-18390-4 (the complete text)

External linksEdit