Sybil is fuming to Polly that Basil has forgotten their 15th wedding anniversary. Basil lets Polly in on his joke, he hasn't forgotten like the year before, he's pretending to forget. In fact he has organized a surprise drinks party for Sybil with all their friends coming and is getting Manuel to make his genuine Spanish paia.
However Basil's plan backfires, when Sybil leaves the hotel furious at his "forgetfulness" just before all their friends arrive for drinks. Persuaded by Polly and Manuel Basil decides to stall them and tells friends Roger and Alice that Sybil is confined to bed with a mystery illness and can't join in the celebration.
By the time all the other friends have arrived Sybil's illness has been exaggerated to a very serious condition with Polly helping the lie along. The last friends to arrive say they have seen Sybil driving around town and to prove that he's not lying Basil invites goading smart mouth Roger and all the others up to see his ailing wife.
The others decline but are egged on by Roger, now his bluff is called Basil begs Polly to impersonate his wife she finally agrees only if Basil will pay her the hundred pounds in cash he refused her earlier. Seeing her in bed in darkness, the guests all suffer a few bruises but seem convinced until they all get back to the foyer to find Sybil has tearfully returned.
However Basil pretends she a guest that looks like Sybil and keeps up the ridiculous bluff until their friends have left while Manuel and Terry continue to fight in the kitchen over who will be cooking the paia.
The Anniversary CAST & CREW
Basil Fawlty: John Cleese Sybil Fawlty: Prunella Scales Manuel: Andrew Sachs Polly Sherman: Connie Booth Major Gowen: Ballard Berkeley Terry: Brian Hall Miss Tibbs: Gilly Flower Miss Gatsby: Renee Roberts
Guest Stars: Ken Campbell - Roger Alice - Una Stubbs Arthur - Robert Arnold Virginia - Pat Keen Reg - Roger Hume Kitty - Denyse Alexander Audrey - Christine Shaw
Writers - John Cleese & Connie Booth Director - Bob Spiers Producer - Douglas Argent
The Anniversary REVIEWS:
The Anniversary is the second to last and another that focuses on the train wreck of a marriage Basil and Sybil live in. This time round he pulls a practical joke on her that backfires. He was actually going to do something nice for Sybil but can't resist upsetting her in the worst possible way. Makes sense but the stupid git surely should have calculated Sybil may get so pissed off at him she'd leave the hotel for the day?????
Someone has turned the cringe factor up for this segment of Fawlty. You could beat a coffee table with your fist when first seeing this saying why oh why oh why oh why doesn't he just tell the truth for a change. It's always some lie or excuse that may look good on paper but is so feeble that it's bound to fall over like a pack of cards. Connie Booth doesn't help much as Polly as she elaborates on his lie so much he has to run with it. But why not? A good way to stick him in it after he has stiched her up on a loan.
Still with Sybil in the background for this one, it's nice change to have Booth and Cleese teaming up with the lie of the week for once and Polly finally telling her boss what she thinks of him and eventually being persuaded to impersonate his "sick" wife in a darkened room. She can be bought to do that for a hundred pounds? Least this time the truth is being kept from Basil and Sybil's friends rather than Sybil.
Come to think of it this is probably the only time in the series we see they do actually have friends which moves the Fawlty's one step closer to reality -maybe that's why the whole scenario is so cringe worthy. Una Stubbs shines as the innocent Alice, Ken Campbell is marvellous as the smart arse, one liner dropping Roger goading basil and disbelieving his lies at every turn and Pat Keen is great as the overly concerned and Forthright Virginia. Just as well the whole thing was a shambles could you see the Fawlty's actually relaxing and having a laugh with all their friends? They may come across as too human...
Plus nice sub plot about Manuel and Terry fighting over who's going to cook the Fawlty's anniversary dish....and if any of their friends bought the blatant lie at the end where Basil tries to pretend the real Sybil isn't Sybil then they're stupider than is humanly possible. Man Basil when will you learn confession is good for the soul. So frustrated does The Anniversary get me can only award it a 6/10.