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Donald Sinclair (aka Basil Fawlty)


The retired Naval officer - who twice survived the sinking of his ship in World War II - ran the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay. He was the inspiration for the Fawlty Towers character created by comic writer John Cleese (whose character in the film Rat Race was also named Donald Sinclair in homage).

The Monty Python cast arrived in Torquay in May 1970 to film large chunks of Series 2 on location around the Bay and booked into the hotel - the rest of the team swiftly moved out and Cleese said Sinclair was "the rudest man I've ever come across in my life."

But Cleese and co-writer Connie Booth stayed on to observe his behaviour - which included his criticism of Terry Gilliam's 'too American' table etiquette and tossing Eric Idle's briefcase out of a window 'in case it contained a bomb'. Sinclair justified his actions by claiming the hotel had staff problems.

Fawlty Towers (which was not filmed in Torquay) became 'the greatest ever British TV sitcom' and sadly the hotel was recently pulled down to make way for new apartments.

Sinclair died in Torquay in 1981 aged 72, from a heart attack and stroke "when some workmen he'd upset painted his patio furniture and car gunmetal grey during the night"

Babbacombe Beach Torquay History

Opening of the Breakwater 1889.

Brixham Breakwater is where most of the records in Torbay have come from and it is a very popular place to fish.

The first record shore caught conger eel was caught here in 1975 by Roger Beer and the eel weighed in at 56lbs 4ozs.