This is from an episode of Fawlty Towers. Major Gowen says, upon seeing the body of a person, that this person in the chair "doesn't look quite the ticket". I have looked up this idiomatic expression and I have only found found "just the ticket", which could mean "to be just the perfect thing" or "exactly what is needed" ( ticket - Idioms - by the Free Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. ).Major Gowen: Why, I say... I say, Fawlty, he doesn't look, uh... he doesn't look quite the ticket.
Basil Fawlty: Well, Major, um, don't say anything to anybody, but he's dead.
Major Gowen: Ah! Shot, was he?
Basil Fawlty: No, no. No, no. Died in his sleep.
Major Gowen: In his sleep? Ah, well. You're off your guard, you see!
In this context, I would say that it means, "he doesn't look well". Am I right? And if so, I take it that in a different contextm if someone looks tired/yellow/sick that it's also possible to say that "he doesn't look quite the ticket? (I'm often not sure if idioms can be used in a broader context.)
Thank you in advance.
Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 04-Aug-2012 at 10:37.
It's not idiomatic. Your guess about its meaning in this context is right. It is a gentle parody of the Major's social ineptitude - he knows he 'shouldn't' come straight out and talk about taboo subjects like death, so he coins a euphemism based on the idiomatic (but rather 'fusty') 'just the ticket'' - which is such a gross understatement that it doesn't work as a euphemism.