Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Monday, October 27, 2008

Falling Off The Cliff is Easy.

My dear Jamaican friend, "Thesephone", sent me the rough outline of a new TV comedy series, loosely based on the 1970s British sit-com, "Fawlty Towers". That production was about a small boarding house in Torquay, on the "English Riviera" of Devon. The hotel was run by an eccentric manager, "Basil Fawlty" (John Cleese), supported by wife "Sybil" (Prunella Scales), a general go-for, "Polly" (Connie Booth), and a never-to-be-trusted Spanish waiter, "Manuel" (Andrew Sachs). Things were always going wrong and guests were always a meal away from poisoning. See an extract:

"Thesephone's" series is based in a mythical tropical Caribbean paradise island called "Barhaven". Instead of a hotel, the series is based around a restaurant named "Top Cliff", which is located on what is affectionately known as the "Plate and nyam coast" (that's a sort of Jamaicanism for "good food served here"). In contrast to "Fawlty Towers", "Top Cliff" leaves nothing to chance and has rules to make sure that all runs smoothly.

"Top Cliff" prides itself as being the island's best, with dishes so mouthwatering, you need to have a towel draped around you.

All diners must have a reservation, with its unique number, and these cannot be exchanged with other people. The restaurant prides itself on having a wonderful location beside the sea, but in a cruel twist to frustrate some patrons it occasionally will say "Unfortunately all of our waterside tables are fully booked for this evening." But, given the reputation, what's wrong with dining inside?

Cocktails are available before dinner, but must be taken 30 - 45 minutes prior to your reservation, to allow the well-trained local staff enough time to pick the organically grown fruits and press them with bare hands into juices freshly, them blend them lovingly with alcohol for your pleasure. They can then just be ready for you as you are about to go to your table.

"Top Cliff" make sure that if you do not show for your reservation they will still bill you, by insisting on your credit card details. The cancellation fee is BDS $215.00 per person--the standard meal price. Who would not turn up and still want to pay for the meal?

"Top Cliff" likes rules, or as they call them "policies". Here is a sample:
  • Dress Code is "elegantly casual": no jacket or tie is required for gentlemen, however, long trousers and a nice shirt is suggested. I think that means that you can decide to not wear either long trousers or a nice shirt. But you must not be in beachwear, sleeveless shirts, shorts or slippers. So, I guess nude is the rule. Cool! That is elegantly casual, for sure.
  • The best tables are assigned on a first-come-first served basis, with the first 10 reservations getting the plum tables by the sea. Hence, the "all of our waterside tables are fully booked" slider, I mentioned above.
  • Children over eleven can go to the restaurant, "provided that they are well-behaved". I have no idea what that means. There is nothing about adults having to be well-behaved, so that seems to be somewhat discriminationary. But I am sure the urchins will behave once they realise that there is no children's menu and their meals costs the same as everyone else's, at BDS$ 215.00. "That's a lot of pocket money, Mum."
  • The "rule" for groups of 10 persons or over is that you should arrive 30 minutes prior to your reservation. I guess that is to allow for you to mix your own cocktails, or learn how to wait your own tables.
So, the weekly episodes are built using a cast of patrons plucked from the studio audience, who are mainly foreign visitors. They will work with actors pretending to be the restaurant's management and staff, and the show is developed in "reality" fashion around how the make-believe patrons deal with the make-believe restaurant and its "policies".

Some of the patrons will be encouraged to find them rather officious, and try to "negotiate" them. In good British fashion, we may hear catch phrases such as "Come now, my good fellow. This was never a problem at my private club in St. James ... England that is, not Barbados."

Some patrons will be urged to come up with their own helpful suggested additions, such as "We would prefer our patrons to desist from chewing with their mouths open, drinking while eating and using the napkins to wipe any part of the body except the mouth," or "Breaking wind or expelling bodily gases is permitted but only if it does not disturb the other diners."

The comedy relief is in how the actors/management of the restaurant are taken to task by the live audience over the rules, such as the liberal interpretation of the dress code.

This series will begin in a few weeks.


Sue said...

I grew up with Fawlty Towers, considered to be compulsive viewing! they only made about 12 episodes but it was repeated so many times it went on for years and we never grew tired of it. John Cleese (Mr Fawlty) was of course a member of Monty Python, also compulsive viewing. Great idea, would love to see a Jamaican take on it, got to be better than Royal Palm...........

Dennis Jones said...

Sue, like "Fawlty Towers", the idea for "Top Cliff" comes from a real experience with one of the top restaurants in Barbados. I love the idea of a TV series really taking off based on the idea in the blog. It could always take as it's "subject" a different overblown institution each week.

In case you did not know it, Connie Booth was John Cleese's wife at the time of the series and they were co-writers. She too featured in Monty Python.

Striddie said...

This is hilarious!

I would definitely tune in to this programme. Plus, participating in the audience and in the scenes could be an activity that would draw in tourists and other visitors and, of course, generate revenue.

By the way, I watched Fawlty Towers every week and haven't tired of seeing any of the reruns.