It’ll take Sybil action to end war of Fawltys on Fringe

The Laughlines crew are coming to the city
The Laughlines crew are coming to the city
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IT is set to be the Battle of the Basils.

Two rival Fawlty Towers tribute acts are set to go head to head in Edinburgh in a feud which has already sparked threats of legal action.

The bizarre battle, which could be straight out of a 1970s sitcom, will see the Faulty Towers Dining Experience – run by Interactive Theatre Australia (ITA) and first launched on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 – challenged at this year’s festival by Yorkshire-based Laughlines’ Fawlty Towers – The Dinner Show.

Both companies have been operating since 1997, and while the Laughlines can legitimately claim to be the “original” British tribute act, their Australian counterparts, headed by Alison Pollard-Mansergh, have arguably enjoyed far bigger success.

They have raised concerns that the British group, run by comedian Michael Wilson Green, has been up to the sort of tricks which would have made Basil Fawlty proud, from passing ITA reviews off as their own to contacting their venues and suggesting they hire the British group rather than the Australians.

Ms Pollard-Mansergh said: “I am all in favour of competition, but this is not competition. They have latched on to something successful and people are getting very confused.”

A spokeswoman for ITA added: “It is confusing for the public and concerning for us that this group appear to be trading off our work, at least in part.

“It has reached the stage before where we have had to involve lawyers and Laughlines have not shown any willingness to stop this.”

However, Mr Green, who plays Basil Fawlty in their show, insisted they had done nothing wrong and said ITA had been using underhand tactics.

He said he too was now seriously considering legal action against ITA over the matter and vowed to bring the fight to the Capital in August.

“We have been going since 1997, have played thousands of shows and had rave reviews, and it is really disappointing that this company from Australia are resorting to these underhand tactics,” he said.

“I have no problem with competition, but it is reaching a point now where I feel I may have to get lawyers involved to try and protect my company.

“We were considering playing the Fringe in 2004, and I wish we had now.

“I am determined to come to the Fringe this year though and show people here how great this show is.”

Laughlines will be giving the Capital a taste of their own tribute next month with a one-off show at VinCaffe on April 6.

gedwards@edinburghnews.com