“BUSH, BUSH, BUSH, BUSH, BUSH, BUSH, BUSH”. Still your best chance of getting a glimpse of a branch of Supercigs or Spud-U-Like, JOHN SULLIVAN’s uber-com – originally to be titled READIES – is alternately great and woeful. In the great bracket: “It’s Barratt’s!”, the Peckham Pouncer, “Cwying!”, ‘The Longest Night’ (best episode ever) and – yeah – we’ll say it: the Batman and Robin bit. And as for the woeful? ‘If They Could See Us Now’ (worst episode ever), Raquel, that one with the bottled water, all the Omen stuff and the clunky pop cultural references (“Have you ever spent a night with Trigger? It’s like holding a seance with Mr Bean”). But, to be fair, anything up until Cassandra arrives is top, and a different opening and closing theme is bonus points in anyone’s book – particularly when there’s the none-more-eighties line: “Ball games, gold chains, whassa-names, and at a push, some Trevor Francis tracksuits”.Read More
Posts Tagged With 'Sitcom archetypes shouting at each other'
NONE-MORE-80S SUBURBACOM, the gold standard of wedding-ring-in-the-washing-up-bowl, contact-lens-down-the-back-of-the-sofa, iron-shaped-hole-burnt-through-best-posh-frock studio-bound audience-hooting 8.30pm weeknight whimsy. Title sequence laid out both “sit” and “com”: to bawdy instrumental version of “Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, start all over again!”, amusing silhouette shapes are struck by two protagonists, depicting his (reading paper, slumped in armchair) and hers (tossing pancake, riding exercise bike, playing drums) contrasting worlds. She (JULIA MACKENSIE) forever pines for new challenge evoked by show’s title. He (ANTON RODGERS) perfectly happy with status quo earning tons in the city. She signs up for pottery classes, bicycling classes, exercise classes, fencing classes, catering classes and the Meals On Wheels. He remains oblivious. She gives up new life 28 minutes later, just in time for closing credits. Show gains points by seamlessly melding everyday euphemism of title with names of principal characters (Hester and William Fields); gains more by having Hester’s mum live in a shed at the bottom of the garden; gains even more by writing in sassy neighbour always poking her nose in (Sonia, played by ANN BEACH); then gains still more by spinning-off into FRENCH FIELDS, wherein our heroes relocate to northern France for no reason other than to live next door to Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart and loads of people who go around with onions round their necks. “Excusez-moi, ou est le bicycle repair shop?” Hooray!Read More
THAT EXCLAMATION mark says it all. More perspicacious production line period palaver from the pens of David Croft – who with Jimmy Perry wrote the vastly overrated DAD'S ARMY and the endless HI-DE-HI! – and Jeremy Lloyd which never seemed to be off the telly and lasted longer than the war it was “gently lampooning”. Entire premise ripped off from SECRET ARMY. Rene (GORDEN KAYE), a moon-faced smart-alec cafe owner who spoke like someone doing a shit impression of Inspector Clouseau, reluctantly agrees to help the French resistance during WW2. Married to a prickly wife Edith who can’t sing (“Youuuuuu stupid woman!”) but also fancies the arse off barmaid Yvette, but who keeps being distracted by Michelle the “collaborator” (“Listen very carefully, I shall say zees only once”), who keeps trying to avoid the machinations of Gestapo goon with a limp Herr Flick, and Helga the blonde Nazi officer who took to appearing in only her underwear, and the gay Nazi officer, the stupid Nazi officer, British airmen in terribly unamusing inability to escape to “Blighty” and uproarious false accents (“I was just pissing by”), “Mother” upstairs called Fanny with comic ear trumpet, the French policeman next door… Oh, dear god. Entire seasons seemed to revolve around Rene being presumed dead and being replaced with his identical brother (GORDEN KAYE, unsurprisingly), or the location of the Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies, or comically-shaped bratwurst. Each episode opened with Gorden looking stupid (standing in a bale of hay, or appearing dressed as a woman, or appearing dressed as a woman in a bale of hay) and asking us what we thought he was doing. How the hell did we know ? RONNIE HAZELHURST arranged the theme, which didn’t really fit in on account of it being really rather good.Read More
YET ANOTHER load of You Have Been Watching lummoxery from David Croft, as usual set in some hilariously over-cliched recent period of British history, and as usual starring SU POLLARD, PAUL SHANE and JEFFREY HOLLAND. This time the laughs were to be found – allegedly – in a 1920s house where, and hold onto your sides now, the upper classes are battier than those below stairs! And everybody’s either trying to diddle or screw everyone else! Basically, Shane and Holland gain the employ of Lord Meldrum (DONALD HEWLETT) years after saving his life in the First World War, only to install Shane’s – gulp – daughter Su Pollard as parlourmaid. Cue “oo eck!” accidents with dusters, slippery scullery floor scrapes and falling out of cupboards in ill-fitting clothes. Also living in the house are, variously, a demented biddy, a lesbian who dresses as a man, a randy pensioner, numerous stupid toffs and toffesses, wailing cooks, dim-witted errand boys and BARBARA WINDSOR. Oh, and BILL PERTWEE used to call round for a bit of tongue from the head cook. And some food as well. Best thing by far was undoubtedly the theme tune, crooned by none other than SIR BOB MONKHOUSE in his best clipped-voice posh-man impersonation (“From Mayfair to Park Lane/you will hear the same refrain/in every house again, again…”) replete with PAUL SHANE interjections (spoken, thankfully: “You rang, m’lord?”). Various topical events of the 1920s turned up, including – implausibly – the General Strike. Ended when the Meldrums ran out of money and had to sack everyone. Now that’s our idea of going out on a high.Read More
SIMPERING SITCOMMERY involving a single studio set standing in for the entire British World War Two Indian subcontinent campaign and two million shit gags standing in for pithy punchlines, enlightened witticisms and well-crafted tomfoolery. Like DAD’S ARMY, went on for longer than the war it was supposed to be fucking lampooning, and contrived to do so in a noisier, more over-stated fashion as well. WINDSOR DAVIES bellowed his way through proceedings helming a platoon of various comedy gay soldiers including dragged-up MELVYN “GLORIA” HAYES, pintsize kit factory DON ESTELLE, STUART “PLAY SCHOOL” MACGUGAN, GEORGE LAYTON and JOHN “MR LA-DI-DAH GUNNER GRAHAM” CLEGG, plus the requisite number of thick/aloof officers and pretend Asians. More offensive than LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR, less funny than EDGE OF DARKNESS, less credible than AROUND THE WORLD WITH WILLY FOGG.Read More
EAR-SPLITTING BIGOTCOM which set out to ridicule the views of the central, West Ham supporting little Enoch, Alf Garnett (WARREN MITCHELL), and succeeded – just about, if you could actually hear what was being said amidst all the bawling and gurning. Most episodes were mainly just front-room debates/slanging matches between Garnett and his left-leaning son in law and “randy scouse git” (ANTHONY “Prime Minister’s father-in-law” BOOTH), and his wife UNA STUBBS. DANDY NICHOLLS, as the far-gone Mrs. Garnett, completed the squalid foursome. When they did venture outside, it was only to go to the pub, or for Garnett to fall out of a window (he spent one entire episode stuck there) or plummet downhill in a wheelchair. Top mouthing off choreographed by writer JOHNNY SPEIGHT. Michael Grade brought the whole melee back in the mid-80s for IN SICKNESS…, to deteriorating effect (literally in Nicholls’ case).Read More
THORA HIRD, as usual playing herself, is an undertaker in a bluff, gruff, “take me as you find me” Lancashire funeral firm with stupid nephew CHRISTOPHER BEENY as co-pallbearer. Now let the laughs commence!Read More
APTLY-TITLED SUNDAY evening miserycom, reworking bits of Take It From Here off of the radio. JIMMY EDWARDS got his toe stuck in the taps, JUNE WHITFIELD gave way to PATRICIA BRAKE as Ma, and IAN LAVENDER wore the “der-drip dry” shirts.Read More
GRANADA’S BIGGEST-SELLING situation comedy. Eli Pledge (JIMMY JEWELL) and Nellie Pledge (HYLDA BAKER) are feuding siblings who have inherited a pickle factory and a workforce which appears to have escaped from a genetic experiment: all old, bent, shortsighted, deformed, scruffy and looking like pre-1914 factory fodder. Nellie was all malapropisms, methodist propiety and teetotal. Eli was all beer, fags, gambling and improbably copping off with girls a quarter of his age. Lancashire setting milked for all it was worth, with the house they lived in looked, to the teak-veneer-contiboard-and-G-Plan 1970s, old and Victorian and dark and damp and smelly. Nellie’s catchphrases: “big girl’s blouse”, “Defective Inspector”, “he knows, you know” “it’s quarter-past – oh I must get a little hand put on this watch” and the eternal “Have you been, Walter?” (to doddering octogenarian husband of Madge Hindle, aka Alf Roberts’ wife-before-last in Corrie). Eli’s catchphrase was “You knock-kneed knackered old nosebag”.
You might also want to see... Not On Your Nellie!.
ROBIN “DOCTOR” NEDWELL did little in this tale of ambitious genius Harry Lumsden (no relation to Timothy, though it would’ve been good if he was) stuck working in an all-night bakery with various wacky subsidiary characters who had no surnames (Ted, Shirley, Reg). Suffice it to say, any scheme of Nedders’s to “climb” said ladder saw him right back on roll duty by the end of the half hour.Read More
SURPRISINGLY LONG-RUNNING Beeb mainstay going out on primetime BBC1 north of Hadrian’s Wall and BBC2 below. All BOB “KICK UP THE” BLACK’s work and set in a Scottish bank, workplace of Willie Melvin (GERARD KELLY) and half the cast of NAKED VIDEO.Read More
MUCH LIKE the vogue for programmes beginning with a fulsome TAKE (see above), so programmes opening business with a terse THAT’S are equally near-universally rubbish. At least this only made it to one series. Life in a funeral parlour (a contradiction in terms, surely?) run by BILL FRASER and RAYMOND HUNTLEY, starring as the obligatory-1970s-sitcom-named Basil Bulstrode and Emanuel Holroyd. Coffins get mixed up. Corpses go missing. Dithering assistants get diddled over urns. Lots of Northern “wit” i.e. moaning. A film spin-off (another obligatory 1970s sitcom accoutrement) flopped, thanks largely to a car chase involving hearses.Read More
SCRATCHY VEHICLE for SID JAMES in post-Hancock hinterland, now settling for repeated scrapes with eponymous “Dragon”, PEGGY MOUNT. Below-stairs knockabout saw Sid (controversially not called Sid) as handyman/chauffeur, Peg as housekeeper, both in the employ of JOHN LE MESURIER.Read More
HARRY H CORBETT grumbled his last as a curmudgeonly newsagent up against “bleeding permissive society” and LYNDA “NURSE GLADYS” BARON.Read More
A FAMILY of crooks – with mirth in mind! How could it not have failed? By forgetting to cast PETER JONES, PRUNELLA SCALES and IAN LAVENDER for starters.Read More
THIS HAS a lot to answer for, chiefly bequeathing Carla Lane upon the nation and her “daffy” “sassy” “Scouse” “wit”. In truth a rip-off of THE LIKELY LADS, but whisper it quietly in case Carla throws another strop and refuses to talk to anyone for the next 50 years. PAULINE COLLINS and POLLY JAMES were the first titular twosome, the former pissing off after five episodes to be replaced by NERYS HUGHES. Then Polly quit and ELIZABETH ESTENSEN took over, as someone called Carol Boswell (ach, the omens were there). Indeed, Carol had other Boswells lurking all too near the screen, including familiar sounding domineering Irish mother, wastrel bus driving father, and dopey brother Lucien who loved rabbits. Why couldn’t we see what was coming? 87 episodes in all, some of which were script edited by, of all people, ERIC IDLE. Revival in 1996 was, as with everyone else dredged up around that time (AGONY, …PERRIN, GRACE AND FAVOUR), rotten.Read More
DOPEY OLD buffer forgets where he’s left his spouses and gets hitched not once, not twice, not thrice, but six times. That the blatherer in question is PATRICK CARGILL and one of the simpering sextet was ELSPETH GRAY renders the whole thing somehow unsurprising. As with most lecherous billy goats of the 1970s, Cargill’s character – Patrick Woodford – was also stupidly camp, as if that somehow explained things. Also had a daughter who was Susan in the Dr Who films.Read More
SUPREME ROSSITER-ITIS. From the top: bored commuter (Len) lives in ghastly suburban bliss with wife Elizabeth (PAULINE YATES) and cat Ponsonby on Poet’s Estate. Hapless lifeskill-lacking army brother Jimmy ‘Major James Gordonstoun’ Anderson (GEOFFREY “LAMB” PALMER) constantly pops round for sugar and the like (“bit of a cock-up on the catering front”). His daughter Linda (SALLY-JANE “NEWCOMERS” SPENCER) lives in profoundly revolting wedded bliss with pipe-smoking, winemaking hippie liberal Tom Patterson (initially TIM “PORTERHOUSE BLUE” PREECE, latterly LESLIE “JOHNNY BRIGGS’ DAD” SCHOFIELD) instilling sickmaking Guardian values in their two small children, Adam (“I done biggies!”) and Jocasta. His dropout other son (DAVID “SHANG-A-LANG” WARWICK) thankfully drops by only fitfully, looking for handouts to support his eternally fledgling acting career in a “Wedgwood Benn for Pope!” t-shirt. Len commutes every morning to the dilapidated confectionery empire Sunshine Desserts, run by bullet-headed, cliche-spouting go-getter Charles ‘CJ’ Jefferson (JOHN “DOOMWATCH” BARRON), with awful, Tony Blackburn-alike colleague Tony ‘Great!’ Webster (TREVOR “PROFESSIONALS” ADAM), even more awful, drippy colleague David Harris-Jones (BRUCE “STRANGERS” BOULD), lazy, hypochondriac company medic Gerald ‘Doc’ Morrissey (JOHN “HOT METAL” HORSLEY) and vivacious temptress of a personal secretary Joan Greengross (SUE “RENTAGHOST” NICHOLLS). What to do in this repetitive hell, after a disastrous safari park excursion, an abortive affair with Joan, a dinnerless dinner party with the boss and dodgy uncle Percy Spillinger (“I say, what a lovely pair!”) and numerous disturbing hallcinations, but to fake one’s own suicide (in flute-led Brighton front titles) and, after a brief stint on a pig farm, return as bearded, long-lost relative Martin Wellbourne (having spent time in the Amazon basin), and woo Elizabeth all over again, while earning a menial wage at a sewage farm as bucktoothed Donald Potts? Plan soon uncovered by first Linda, then Elizabeth, and Reggie returns as himself once more. Sacked by CJ, he returns to the pig farm. Elizabeth gets a job at Sunshine Desserts. CJ comes onto her, clumsily. Reggie gets sacked. So does Elizabeth. Out of desperation, Grot, a shop selling 100% rubbish (square hoops, Tom’s wine, his dentist’s pictures of the Algarve), is born. It’s a success. Ex-Sunshine employees are poached. In fact, everyone. Including CJ. Having built a success from nothing, Reggie is intent on destroying it again. He fails. Back to where they started, again, Reggie and Elizabeth go off to Brighton, and return as Mr and Mrs Gossamer. The novelty, again, wears off. The idea of Perrins, a commune for the disenfranchised suburban middle-classes, is born. Jimmy, Tom, David, Joan, Doc, CJ etc. are predictably employed. It, predictably, becomes a success. It angers the local community of, er, suburban middle-classes. Violent attacks force it to close. Reggie gets a job at Amalgamated Aerosols, run by suspiciously familiar FJ, alongside the suspiciously familiar Muscroft (“Marvellous!”) and Rosewall (“Teriffic!”). Back where he started, again, again, what else is there to do, but… A case of diminishing returns, to be sure, but repetitiveness was, of course, the point, and in present age of would-be “dark” sitcom bollocks, it’s worth remembering how this ace DAVID NOBBSfest created an incredibly depressing world (many of the early episodes end with Rossiter, alone, screaming in despair – hardly an audience-rousing “you have been watching” punchline) out of the archetypal cheery, harmless sitcom cliches, a feat only equalled by the similarly exceptional EVER DECREASING CIRCLES. 1996 Rossiterless revival was, naturally, appalling, ditto the bizarre 2009 MARTIN CLUNES remake-that-wasn’t-a-remake.Read More
PROTO-ON THE BUSES rubbish (literally) comedy penned by JACK “STREET” ROSENTHAL. BRYAN PRINGLE, TREVOR “MR. LUCAS” BANNISTER and BRIAN “BRIAN WILDE” WILDE were there, with stupid nicknames aplenty (eg. Bloody Delilah).Read More