Where were you on October 17, 1975? I know where I was: seated before a television screen — as one had to be in the days before videos and the like made such attendance optional — watching Gourmet Night, one of the best episodes of what I and many others consider the funniest comedy series ever made, Fawlty Towers.

Memories of that disastrous culinary event were naturally in the minds of everyone making their way to The Appleford Kitchen and Bar for Faulty Towers The Dining Experience.

Created in Brisbane in 1997, this unusual tribute show features a trio of professional actors, who portray the principal figures from the sitcom while assisting in the service of a three-course meal. It is mostly improvised but part scripted, the words inspired by, though not copied from, the utterances of Basil, Sybil and Manuel. Six teams now tour the world with it. The British strand of the operation works out of Appleford, and the performance Rosemarie and I attended, as guests of the pub’s owner Michelle Marriott, was the first ‘home gig’. Others follow there on September 21 and 22, priced at £30. Take my word: for an evening of laughter and decent food — the show departs from Gourmet Night in this important respect — this is cash well spent.

We travelled over by train (the station is a short walk away), conscious that the evening in prospect might involve an element of audience participation, in the toleration of which a modicum of alcohol could prove helpful. Thus it turned out: at first sight of my notebook, our Basil, Rob Langston, cast me as a dreaded hotel inspector, with special treatment therefore very clearly my due. This consisted to begin with of his bestowing on me the fawning bows and rictus smiles reserved by the hotelier for his perceived social superiors — think the fake Lord Melbury (Michael Gwynn) in the first and, I think, best of the series. Later I was to receive more tangible favours.

As the pictures on this page show, Rob bore a pretty strong resemblance to the original; likewise Karina Garnett’s Sybil and Brian Roche’s Manuel. Talking to them afterwards, however, ‘out of character’, I could see this had been principally a matter of costume and tonsorial adornment — plus, of course, some fine acting.

“Anyone want vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten-free?” asked Basil as the meal began. There were no takers. “Oh, you’re all normal . . .”

Manuel’s cack-handed attempts at waitering with the soup prompted a debate over who should shoulder the blame for his incompetence. “You hired him, you can clear up his mess.” For his part, the pratfalling Spaniard was sure he had never been hired: “I am very short,” he declared.

Though there was a crack about chef “having just opened a tin”, the soup was clearly home-made — a well-balanced combination of tomatoes and lentils — and rather good.

So, too, was the main course. There was much speculation that this would prove to be duck, as planned (though not delivered) at the famous gourmet night. In fact, chef Matt came up with chicken breast in a cream sauce, of which, courtesy of Basil, the ‘hotel inspector’ received a double portion. The beaming proprietor grabbed a plate from one of my neighbours during service and scraped its contents on to mine. (Fortunately the kitchen was able to make up the deficiency.) Realising I had no fork, I hesitated to ask for one, recognising the potential for a comic mishearing that the request would create. Nonetheless I braved it. From the hands of another of my neighbours Manuel wrested the required utensil.

“Have you heard of the Black Death?” piped up Basil as our plates were cleared. “It’s for dessert.”

In fact, the meal was destined to close, as in the putative feast at Fawlty Towers, with trifle. This was a strawberry, jelly and cream concoction of the sort I last ate, I think, at a Sunday school tea party in the 1960s. Decidedly retro!

As the meal drew to a close, Sybil showed satisfaction over disaster averted and offered: “If anyone wants lessons in husband control, please come and speak to me later.” Judiciously I piloted Rosemarie in the opposite direction — towards the bar and more of the house chardonnay which, as planned, had done a fine job on keeping embarrassment at bay.

Next time? Lots of Waldorf salad, please, “washed down with lashings of hot screwdrivers . . .”