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Hi-De-Hi!

XYLOPHONE-WIELDING THREE-NOTE monster and world record holder for a) greatest number of miserable characters in any sitcom and b) begatter of multi-catchphase congestion (“Hello campers!” “…Ho-de-ho!” “Knobbly knee-contest begins at 3pm” “‘Ave you seen my famous people on the toilet routine?” “I wanna be a Yellowcoat” “Barry, please” “Oh go on Ted, go on” “Not now, Gladys”). Out of all DAVID CROFT’s ensemble efforts, this was undoubtedly the least likable, as summed up by that familiar ‘You Have Been Watching…’ farewell salute in this instance not just going on the longest but also comprising the most can’t-be-arsed and often downright ugly of all those “beauty parade” closing sequences. At least the participants of ‘ALLO, ‘ALLO hammed it up rotten, usually reprising one of the best moments from the preceding half hour (albeit in mime form, rooted to the spot and having engaged in a swift costume change from whatever ludicrous fancy dress outfit they’d ended the episode in). And at least they made an effort to look interested during the playout of ARE YOU BEING SERVED?, or just plain daft in IT AIN’T HALF HOT MUM. As far as HI-DE-HI! was concerned, however, everybody was pissed off during their credit cameo: Jeffrey Fairbrother was discomfited (ditto his replacement Clive Dempster); Gladys Pugh frosty; Ted Bovis arrogant; Spike pathetic; Peggy mithering; Fred absolutely fucked off with everything and everyone; Yvonne and Barry petulant; Mr Partridge soused; Sylvia devious; Betty boring; and the ‘Yellowcoat Boys’ downright creepy. Not one of them was happy at garnering the studio audience’s generous plaudits. Not a single one! Sourfaced bastards. Still, it made for a damn sight more interesting sight than the opening titles, wherein Paul Shane’s voice was upstaged by some black and white holiday prints.

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  1. THX Kling Klang

    January 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I once read a review in the legendary Clod fanzine where they had gone to see some kind of Hi-De-Hi! fun show at their local theatre starring Felix Bowness and the Yellowcoat Twins. According to their scathing report it didn’t go very well, with Felix swearing under his breath at each muffed punchline and a dispiriting amount of dirty jokes. It also amply illustrated why the Twins never said very much on the TV.

    They should have brought along Barry and Yvonne, they would have killed it. Well, Barry would have.

  2. Mick

    September 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Hi-De-Hi was actually quite good. It got good ratings, the characters were well observed (as far as Jimmy Perry’s Redcoat memories supposedly go) and there was a good balance of wit and pathos.

    The characters were miserable because the holiday camp was a comedown for them at the close of their careers or because things like music hall died. A classic cliche of people being trapped somewhere not totally unpleasant with less cynical, younger characters calling them out on it a lot during the series.

  3. Lee James Turnock

    August 14, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve just watched all the episodes again, having been put off it as a child by A) the endless repeats, which meant it never seemed to be off the television, and B) the oft-remarked-upon ‘Sunday night syndrome’, which usually meant a straight choice between Hi-De-Hi! or writing an essay on Vasco Da Gama. Obviously the first five series with the inimitable Simon Cadell are the best, save for a couple of episodes which went down the Dad’s Army route of devoting the entire second half to some improbable outdoor arsing about, with interminable escalating slapstick, all shot on an overcast day in October for added (uninentional) gloom. Series six and seven, when Clive Dempster (who I used to think looked like Jeffrey Archer, but looking at him now, he’s the spit of Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones) was still a newcomer, are a bit whiffy, but they did manage to pull off a genuinely fantastic Christmas special about a cache of valuable jewels supposedly hidden in one of the chalets by a recently deceased cat burglar. Things were back on track by series eight, with the introduction of the marvellous Kenneth Connor as Uncle Sammy and Ben Aris as Julian Dalrymple-Sykes, but Spike’s character had changed for the worse – the loveable idealist of the early series had been replaced by a more whiny and argumentative Spike, with possibly the worst two catchphrases ever conceived – “If I can just shove my four penn’orth in” and “Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear”. Still, the final episode was a belter, with Peggy finally achieving her ambition… and a real lump in the throat as the end credits rolled.

  4. Glenn A

    February 19, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Enjoying the repeats on BBC Two and in the main is still good to watch. Actually a holiday camp like Maplins, grim chalets, stodgy food, mediocre entertainment and bored staff, still exists at Burnham on Sea if you check Trip Advisor. While many of these places went under with the rise of foreign holidays, or have reinvented themselves, a few old school holiday camps exist probably as they’re cheap and during the recession, staycations became more popular.

  5. Glenn A

    February 20, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I watched an episode on BBC Two today, the one where Ted has to find £ 50 to settle his divorce, and found it hilarious. The whole thing about them being miserable characters on the make is funny because either they’ve been stars in the music hall whose day passed 40 years earlier, entertainers who are rubbish and think they’re going to top the bill at the Palladium, or in one case two ballroom champions no one has heard of.
    Also while the golden era of holiday camps may have passed in the sixties, apparently a few still exist, usually either selling themselves as resorts or holiday villages. However, on my trawls through the net, apparently one establishment, which shall remain nameless but is owned by a famous name from the past, still exists which is notorious for grim chalets where the televisions are on a meter( if they work), indifferent catering, naff entertainment and bored staff who wish they were somewhere else.

  6. Barbersmith

    September 1, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I can see why you Cream writers don’t find this funny, having tried to listen to your dreadful “funny” podcasts. This site is fine for reference, but you are some of the unfunniest people on the planet. Like most of my critical comments, you won’t publish this, precious little unfunny things.

  7. Richard16378

    September 2, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    In the 1980s these series seemed to be omnipresent on TV at the weekends, helped by Three Of a Kind often spoofing it using the real sets & costumes. Lenny Henry’s Gladys was quite bizarre to say the least.

    For some reason my brother took years to realise it was supposed to be set in the early 1960s.

    We went on holiday to the Butlin’s in Minehead in 1985 & it wasn’t much different, so maybe he had a point!

  8. Droogie

    September 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I remember finding the ending of the final episode rather depressing. The camp closes down, but Peggy agrees to stay on there for the summer to look after the chalets. After waving goodbye to all the other Maplins staff, Peggy walks alone though the deserted camp as the ghostly strains of Goodnight Campers plays in the background.I always found Sunday evenings grim anyway because of school the next day, but this ending only added to the melancholy.

  9. George White

    September 3, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    For a longtime I combined my memory of the final episodes with seeing a clip of Sapphire and Steel on some top ten show. So, for a long time, I thought there was a latter filmed on the same sets.
    I often merge films in my head -eg Joe Estevez’ Rockville Slayer and the Gainesville Ripper with my friend David “Severin Films” Gregory’s friend Josh Townsend and Teresa Arnold Simmonds

  10. George White

    September 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Then again I also confused the woprk of the director of Mrs Death and the Crow fanfilm Crow 1999, Jack Williams -who codirected films such as Evil Deeds 2 with my friend Hank Braxtan, confused as they featured a James Gammon but not the James Gammon.

    Paul Shane, a friend of mine once noted, any role he played could have been filled in by Eddie Large.

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