What did you expect to see … A herd of majestic wilderbeast roaming across the er … Zoo?
It was a great sadness to hear that the lovely Andrew Sachs, the actor who played Manuel in the brilliant BBC Fawlty Towers 1970s sitcom, has died aged 86.
As a small tribute here is an archive photo from our Newquay Zoo press cuttings folder, from 15 years ago, a Fawlty Towers themed meal night fundraiser in December 2001.
Two of the ‘temporary catering staff’ for the night Manuel (Mark Norris) and Basil (John Meek) are still at the zoo and remember a gathering of a few too many Manuels … and an excellent meal by Richard our then-catering manager, served to some bemused but willing guests, which we did as best as the hotel management team and waiters to disrupt!
Photo from left to right of Newquay Zoo staff and volunteers by day, by night for one night only Fawlty Towers staff – waiters Manuel (Jane Oddy, Mark Norris, Natasha Llewelyn), Basil Fawlty (John Meek), Sybil Fawlty (Maree Myers) and waitress Polly (Louise Aherne).
It was a great tribute to some loveable TV characters and a great way to let off steam after a difficult year – 2001 – that included fuel strikes and Foot and Mouth Disease which led to the zoo’s closure as a precaution for almost a month earlier in the year.
Looking Back, Looking Forward?
Who would have thought that two years later we would be celebrating our first Christmas as part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust after Zoo Director Mike Thomas retired in 2003? This means we are part of a wider conservation and zoo scientific education charity with our sisters zoos at Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts in Torquay on the ‘English Riviera’ … Torquay, where Basil Fawlty had his notorious hotel!
Who would have thought that our play acting at anarchic and riotous customer service by the ‘hotel management’ team and ‘waiters’ on that exhausting Fawlty Towers night would in reality be part of a staff team that went on to win many Visitor Attraction awards including a Welcome Host Gold Accolade for Newquay Zoo from Visit Britain in 2015?
Who would have thought then that about eight years later in 2009 we would be opening our African Savanna on a disused former brick pit and playing fields – ‘Little Wembley’ – just across the lake from our original zoo Cafe-Bara, so that now you can see or hear a rare (small) herd of majestic wilderbeast roaming across the Serengeti … er …Zoo?
Andrew Sachs, RIP, warmly remembered by chaotic customer service worldwide!
Posted by Manuel No. 2, Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo Archive blogpost, December 2016.