TV Cream

Films: M is for...

Man About the House

The best thing about these film versions of sitcoms is that the plots seldom bear much similarity to the “sit” of the original series. So in Are You Being Served? for instance, you get the entire cast going on holiday together, no questions asked. Bless This House introduces Terry Scott and Peter Butterworth apropos nothing. Possibly the biggest deviation comes from this film, with the fraught five-way dynamic of the series getting the boot early on when the cast find themselves uniting to save their lodgings from the clutches of ruthless property developer Peter ‘Sir Frank is in charge of civil service pay’ Cellier. It’s a plot hardly worthy of an also-ran Children’s Film Foundation adventure, but it’s all carried off with a such an end-of-term sense of fun you hardly notice. After O’Sullivan and Bill Maynard sabotage his posh dinner date with Wilcox (consisting, of course, of prawn cocktail followed by Steak Diane), Cellier climbs into a taxi and utters the key line – “Thames Television studios, Euston Road, please” – so waving a fond goodbye to the demands of plot and a big hello to “a galaxy of Thames stars” from Bill Grundy, through Jack Smethurst and Rudolph Walker indulging in a terrible pull-back-and-reveal racial gag, Michael Robbins as an old flame of Mildred’s, to an extravagantly bearded Spike “gotta get these things OUT!!” Milligan. It’s the nearest thing there is to a Christmas special on film, really, and for that, to say nothing of the wonderfully wistful closing credits theme, we love it.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Brian McNeill

    August 3, 2020 at 2:36 am

    Micheal Robins isn’t the old flame of Mildred’s he is the security guard at the studio.

  2. richardpd

    August 4, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    It’s interesting that about the time sitcoms stopped being turned into films, extended Christmas specials started to be made.

    It’s easy to imagine a parallel universe where the likes of Minder On The Orient Express, To Hull & Back, and One Foot In The Algarve being made for the silver screen and shown on TV on bank holidays for decades afterwards.

  3. Glenn Aylett

    August 5, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    The British film industry was entering a big decline in the mid seventies as the supertax was forcing out the big names and American studios were moving back home, so making a film version of a popular sitcom was an easy way to make money. My main reason for watching this is Bill Grundy playing himself very convincingly, Spike Milligan’s insane cameo and George Roper making a fool of himself in front of Rudolph Walker.

    • THX 1139

      August 5, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      The Walker/Smethurst bit is always cut out of TV broadcasts of this. If you had never heard of Love Thy Neighbour (and why should you? It’s never repeated) you must have thought George had gone completely nuts.

      • Glenn Aylett

        August 5, 2020 at 1:13 pm

        It was quite good as the ignorant George is actually shown up by Rudolph Walker and I’ve never considered it racist.
        As a film, OK as the Steak Diane scene is hilarious, you get to see another Cream era stalwart( Bill Maynard) and the scenes at Thames are good for nostalgia reasons, just the rest isn’t that funny, although Richard O Sullevans endless attempts to pull his flatmates raise a smile.

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