TV Cream

Films: I is for...

I Only Arsked

Long running smash hit ITV series The Army Game (1957) was so ubiquitous its film version only had to be called after the catchphrase of one of its lead characters, namely Popeye Popplewell played by the great Bernard Bresslaw, for the audience to know what is was about. Scripted by eventual Up Pompeii and Carry On… writer Sid Colin, the premise was the interaction of useless National Service recruits with their dreadful superiors and each other. Since National Service was still mandatory, it’s easy to see where the appeal of the show lay. But even without the shared experience of holding back the Russian hordes by peeling potatoes in Aldershot, this is still well worth the effort of circling in marker on the very rare occasions it crops up in afternoon telly scheduling. The cast on their own can’t fail to please, with Alfie Bass as Excused Boots Bisley (who went on with eventual Sergeant-Major Snudge played by the great Bill Fraser to star in his own telly spin-off, Bootsie And Snudge), David Lodge as Sergeant Potty Chambers, Norman Rossington as Cupcake Cook and assorted other players including Michael Bentine, Michael Ripper and Charles Hawtrey. Like Life With The Lyons, it’s a Hammer production. It’s often thought that venerable name in British film production, most commonly associated with horror, only got into the way of making sitcom spin-offs when the velvet-lined arse fell out of the bottom of the coffin of the Dracula business. But as demonstrated here, this is not the case.

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