The Partners at Lambert Chapman LLP swap their Tax Returns for Torquay to present a special, festive edition of Fawlty Towers!

On behalf of all the Staff and Partners at Lambert Chapman LLP, may we take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful 2020.

In our efforts to raise a smile this Christmas, please share this video with your friends, family and colleagues…

Click to Play video on YouTube >>

Nick Forsyth - Lambert Chapman Managing PartnerA note from Nick Forsyth:

A tough one to follow after the success of 2018’s Only Fools and Horses…

Over the years, filming the annual Christmas Video has proved to be an enjoyable team building session on the filming day itself, but that also brings a lot of responsibility in coming up with the theme and a script to go with it. This year, the script was a long time coming after deciding early in the year that we were going to take on the BBC classic, Fawlty Towers.

Alex Scarfe (of fellow UK200Group Member Griffin Chapman) will confirm that as we had a discussion about the theme at The Thieves Dinner in Colchester back in February. From there, I struggled to decide how we could include an accountancy or tax related topic into the script. I fancied it might be a VAT visit to utilise the infamous ‘Hotel Inspector’ episode, but it wasn’t really working – to the point where I confessed to Katie that I was, to quote Frank Spencer, “having a bit of trouble.” That unburdening had the desired effect and after a lunchtime chat with Sean and Lisa whilst walking around Braintree Town Centre, I managed to get the majority of the scenes down onto paper that afternoon.


The key thing is to share out the lines so everyone is involved, although this year the two main characters had a fair bit to do. We like to involve some of the senior staff and this year Lucy from the Specialist Tax Team makes her debut as Hotel Assistant Polly. We also wanted to include inseparable hotel residents Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby somewhere in the video and Sue and Lesley made a perfect pairing for these roles. From there, it is down to Katie to find props, costumes and locations whilst liaising with HNE Media who have most successfully produced our videos for the past 3 years.

We decided to bring a few things up to date for this festive episode. George Clooney and Brad Pitt replace Burt Reynolds and James Caan, there are a couple of references to leaving the European Union, a nod to customer review website Trip Advisor and Boycott is replaced by Root; not scoring hundreds but missing out on them for such was Joe’s form at the time of writing.

We really must thank The Pheasant at Gestingthorpe who were most accommodating in allowing us to take over the premises, especially on their day off. The venue really worked well with the two separate bars enabling us to have a ‘Hotel Reception’ and ‘Bar’, and allowed us to link one scene really well. Basil’s office was made up from a dining table in the back bar which again, was a great location for linking to the kitchen scene.

All of the scenes replicate something from the original show and with so few episodes made (12 in total between 1974 and 1979) and so many hilarious happenings that we just haven’t been able to include, it demonstrates the quality of the programme, making it a timeless classic. We didn’t do anything in the dining room as producing the props would have added a large burden and we didn’t visit any bedrooms looking for Sydney Opera House, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or Herds of Wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain.

So we really hope that you enjoy this year’s effort. As I said earlier, it was fun to produce and it took us a morning to film. HNE Media then put it together for us and we thank them for putting up with us – both on the day and in post-production. There are outtakes – John and I had a fit of giggles on the first scene and Sean (as Manuel) did the “Fire, Fire, Fire” bit a number of times beginning with an Essex accent before becoming very Spanish after his own fit of giggles. And do let it play out to the end to see Graham’s ‘serious ending’ which is probably the most serious he has been since joining us in Partnership!

So without further ado let’s turn over to BBC2 and the 1977 Christmas intermission for a visit to Torquay: Lambert Chapman Annual Christmas Video

Cast & Crew

Nick Forsyth – Basil Fawlty

Lisa Greenwood – Sybil Fawlty

Sean Wiegand – Manuel

Lucy Orrow – Polly

Graham McNeill – Terry

John Smith-Daye – Mr Smythe (Hotel guest)

Paul Short – Major Gowen

Nigel Whittle – Hotel Guest

Sue Sibthorpe (L) and Lesley Wright (R) – Miss Tibbs and Miss Gatsby

Mickala Kemp, Luke Mitchell, Richard Hamilton, Craig Weavers, Tracey Whittle – Hotel Guests

HNE Media and Katie Gardner – Filming and Editing

Thank You

The video was expertly filmed and edited by James and Sam at HNE Media once again, and we thank you both for not batting an eyelid when the script arrives!

We would also like to thank Diana for use of The Pheasant at Gestingthorpe as our venue for the day, and for providing lunch for the cast once we had wrapped filming.

To Ian Forsyth for making our very own Fawlty Towers signage which will now be put on display at our Braintree office.

Finally, to the Oscar-worthy #TeamLambChap extras who came along to lend a hand.

A reminder of our opening times over the festive period >


The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.

Lambert Chapman Chartered Accountants

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