I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title

In May of 1974, after reading through a pilot script written by John Cleese and his then-wife, Connie Booth, a clearly unimpressed ‘comedy script editor’ by the name of Ian Main sent the following memo to BBC Television‘s Head of Comedy and Light Entertainment. Luckily for the general population, and thanks in no small part to the persistence of Cleese and Booth, Main’s opinion was ultimately ignored by his superiors and a year later the script had evolved into a programme which to this day is considered one of the funniest ever to grace our screens. The show was Fawlty Towers.

Speaking in 2009, John Cleese said of this very memo, “It just shows you people have no idea what they are doing.”

(This memo, along with 124 other fascinating pieces of correspondence, can be found in the bestselling book, Letters of Note, reproduced with permission of the BBC.)


From: Comedy Script Editor, Light Entertainment, Television
Room No. & Building: 4009 TC
Tel. Ext.: 2900
date: 29.5.1974.

To: H.C.L.E.

I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title.

It’s a kind of “Prince of Denmark” of the hotel world. A collection of cliches and stock characters which I can’t see being anything but a disaster.

(Signed, ‘I.M.’)

(Ian Main)