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Up in the World (1956)
Hardly "The Brains" of Anything
I am a huge fan of Norman Wisdom but not I have to say of his singing, though to be fair his voice is reasonable. The problem I have is that I don't like musicals, or films that have music injected into them.
Norman Wisdom became very popular in Britain and many of his films, insisted on featuring his singing as well as his comedic talents. As far as I am concerned if that was the case, that could have been easily accommodated. By simply having Norman Wisdom sing the songs over the films credits, at the beginning and end of the film. Leaving the entire film to be free from musical numbers, and simply being a comic film. Which is why I've marked this film down, from the usual high rating that I'd normally give one of his films.
I heartily recommend this film to anyone with a funny bone that needs tickling, you don't have to even know who Norman Wisdom is to laugh your socks off. This is a riotous madcap adventure where Norman's character has to contend not only with a precocious spoilt brat Sir Reginald (Michael Caridia) but also have to work under his Nemesis Major Willoughby (Jerry Desmond).
Make Mine Mink (1960)
"Do you know of a good honest fence?"
They're All An Absolute Shower, this is a delightful comedy farce, with a splendidly motely crew of nefarious characters, veritable geriatric Robin Hoods.
They are quite literally robbing the rich and far too privileged, of their ill gotten gains of luxurious minks. And flogging them to the highest bidder, and giving the proceeds to the poor and needy.
The crooks and miscellaneous a.n.others are played by a wonderful ensemble cast, of British comedy greats. We have Hattie Jacques, Terry Thomas, Kenneth Williams, Noel Purcell, Billie Whitelaw, Irene Handl, along with the delightful Athene Seyler and Elspeth Duxbury. These are teamed with the oft seen array of character actors, including Raymond Huntley, Sidney Tafler, Jack Hedley, and Freddie Frinton the eponymous drunk.
Forget any misconceptions of being 'dated' it was made in 1960 so doh obviously, and simply enjoy a good old fashioned comic yarn.
Don't judge this book by its cover
Exemplary Crime Master Class, Detective and Actor top drawer, scripts and stories?
Well I rely on seeing this on the box as I have only one series 9 on DVD, it gets repeats here in the UK on ITV3 mainly. Channel 5 USA however regularly screens back to back episodes on Sunday, at least 3 on the trot. The problem for me is not the show but rather the Channels lazy scheduling, involving the repeat of episodes. They invariably show the same episode at least 2 weeks running, with it often cropping up sometimes in batch form, over a month or so. This is frankly an insult to viewers intelligence in not giving a monkeys for their common sense. Given the overall number of Series and Episodes made of Columbo, there is absolutely no excuse for doing this.
This all resolves in an untidy situation for me regarding stories, in that I end up seeing the same episode so often, that I know what's coming next. Which really tends to spoil my appreciation of the plots complexities.
Just watching the first ever episode repeated today after last week's screening, I noticed something that I am surprised I hadn't noticed before. Here there are a number of differences in the actors characterisation, I had already noticed that Columbo is more aggressive in his entire demeanour. But now I saw something entirely different his entire appearance, he is altogether neater and tidyer. His hair is better groomed, his clothes are newer and smarter, both the suit and raincoat, even his posture is a bit more erect.
This only seems to apply to the first episode, in every subsequent episode that I have seen, Columbo has the same appearance shabby.
So much so that in one particular show Columbo is mistaken for a bum, I can't recall the program name. But he has to enter a homeless shelter to find out information for a case, and before he can explain who he is he's offered new clothes as well as food. Even when he shows his detective warrant card, it's simply assumed that he is acting under cover and being deliberately 'untidy'.
Columbo features an versatile ensemble acting crew that crop up, in innumerable and sometimes confusing guises. Watching it as often as I have over the years, the actors faces become instantly memorable. It makes for a fun aside for me while viewing, remembering what episode I had seen them in and the character they had played.
Of this rich and varied repertory company there is one actress that came as a complete surprise to me, when I discovered that Shera Danese was actually married to Peter Falk. This is doubtless no spoiler to many fans, but it certainly took me unawares. She has played opposite to Falk on numerous occasions throughout the shows run, I can't imagine how that felt for both of them. I simply have to say that she is absolutely gorgeous, and that he was a very lucky bloke.
Columbo also boasts a stellar cast of top celebrities who appear to have queued up to appear, some also getting involved in the shows production. For me possibly the top name to appear was, one of my absolute favourite country singers Johnny Cash. Of the actors appearing on several occasions was Patrick McGoohan, he was also heavily involved in aspects of the shows production, such as as a Director.
Off Camera with Sam Jones (2014)
Saw this series on Netflix and checked it out, Sam Jones didn't ring any bell, so I scrolled through the names listed, to see if I actually knew any of them. There is a few so I'm starting with those people who I have heard of.
The more of them that I watch the more familiar Sam Jones appears, though I simply can't remember exactly what I know him from. From the ones that I have watched I can really say they are excellent, laid back and relaxed with the people able to express themselves.
The Last Laugh (2019)
The Next Dead
Just watching on Netflix, as I don't mind Richard Dreyfus as an actor, and its the only film of his I can on there.
I've never really rated Chevy Chase so I haven't bothered to check out any of his other films.
Al Hart (Chevy Chase) is brow beaten by his grand daughter (Kate Micucci) into checking out the accommodation at the Palm Sunshine Oap apartments. He is shown around by a resident who turns out to be, an old friend and client Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfus).
Buddy has long since quit show business with no desire to return to it, Al tries to convince Buddy that he can still hack it. An unfortunate and sad ending to his long term relationship, drives him to reconsider this decision. And the two old friends hit the road and take to the hills, on a ramshackle tour of all their yesterday's.
The most imponderable point of the film for me is the meeting of Al and Doris Lovejoy (Andie MacDowell) why the hell should a gorgeous young woman bother with an old fart?
It's a nice sweet film with Richard and Chevy making a great double act, and they more than prove there is much more life in the old dogs yet.
The Gravy Train (1990)
Nice work if you can get it?
A Channel 4 'comedy' that I thought I'd try out, here's my overall view of it.
Here the title speaks for itself meaning to make hay while the sun shines, or to make the most of a golden opportunity.
This programme was made about the European Union, as for so long that has been slated as the prime example of the term. In Westminster parliamentary politics public pronouncements decry corruption, as a product of 'banana republics'. While many politicians would dearly love to be able to legalise it, which is doubtless why so many wish to be involved in the EU Parliament.
This is really about stereotypes pigeonholing according to perceived notions, the Idealist, the Bureaucrat, the Commissions. The Idealist is of course German, "Better to have a European Union than a European War". Of course the Bureaucrat is English because they are doubtless considered to have invented it.
I know of the actor Christopher Waltz, though not his name nor what I've seen him in, he plays his role to perfection with naive charm. Ian Richardson has come to personify this role as the self serving career politician, so much so that it appears to be in his very DNA.
This programme seems to be inspired by Yes Minister, the show that opened up Westminster politics to public scrutiny, and ridicule. Except that times have certainly changed in the world of comedy, and so many shows nowadays seem to be following the documentary approach. The 'slice of life' approach where humour is incidental, though sadly virtually unnoticable.
The writers of Yes Minister and Yes Minister wanted to prick political pomposity, to enable us to laugh at politicians, but they didn't forget the humour. The writers of the Gravy Train are seemingly so intent of showing up European Bureaucracy, that they have completely lost their funny bone altogether.
Billy Liar (1963)
"Its neither a mickling nor a mucking"
This is a a film that I'd never got around to seeing and I hadn't realised who was actually in it, I'm just catching up on it on Talking Pictures TV Channel.
There is a veritable who's who of British acting talent on view, each one a surprise to see them on screen and looking so young.
Strangley enough I'd never even seen Tom Courtney on anything his was simply a name I'd just heard of, but this is brilliant seeing him as Billy Fisher.
By daydream he is President of his own fictitious Kingdom Ambrosia with his Queen Liz (Julie Christie) the love of his life. By every other moment he is the bone idol layabout son of Dad Geoffrey (Wilfred Pickles) Mum Alice (Mona Washbourne) and Gran (Ethel Griffies) Working at Shadrack & Son Funeral Directors. The Proprietor is played by Leonard Rossiter.
Billy is perpetually engaged to Liz who leaves the area temporarily, and virtually simultaneously to Rita (Gwendolyn Watts) and Barbara (Helen Fraser). Rita and Barbara both expect to be invited back to Billy's home for tea, and squabble over the engagement ring.
Liz returned to the area and tells Billy that she shares his dreams and loved the idea of it. Billy actually plucked up courage and proposed to Liz who accepted, they agreed to go to London together.
Billy tells everybody he has had a script accepted by a famous comic and he's going to London to write for him. But he missed the chance to actually meet with the comic when he comes to open a local store.
Billy handed his notice in to his boss, who wants him to stay and sort out the discrepancies he has caused in the company's business first.
Billy has a big argument with his dad over him going to London, who berated his son over the problems he has caused at work.
This row resulted in the grandmother having a another of her turns requiring her medication, and unfortunately leeds to her having to be taken to hospital. Billy's mum goes with her mother to hospital, and his dad puts pressure on him to join them there, but bad news awaits.
Despite his mother's considerations Billy still expressed his desire to move to London, and he rushed to meet Liz.
Billy is as his nick name implies not only a Liar but a congenital one, does he or could he ever be relied on to act truthfully? Even when he finds a love to share his dreams can he actually just follow them with her?
I've given away far too much of the plot but enough is enough, and I won't reveal the ending or what I thought of it.
For me Billy Liar is a true classic film with a peerless cast, its tale is a timeless one that will continue to reverberate down the ages. For anyone who simply gets caught up in semantics about it being simply a period piece, are seriously missing the whole point of the movie.
It's all to easy to simply judge the Dirk Gently TV series from BBC America, in relation to Douglas Adams stories, this would really be a huge mistake.
Mark Landice who created the American show, admit that Douglas Adams is beyond any conceivable reimagining. He did not even attempt to recreate Adams books because as he said "Douglas Adams is a genius, I am not a genius I'm a clown" his words not mine.
I am just rewatching the show on Netflix and getting more out of it the second time of viewing, it's making a bit more sense than it did. At present there are only two series but hopefully they will create more, BBC America seems to have have given up on it, which is frankly all too typical of Auntie. Netflix should be prevailed on to take up the show and commission new material, to give it another lease of life.
What has been done is the name of the books character and his detective agency has been used, to create a new alternate universe. The TV character has the same modus operandi, along with his quirks and idiosyncrasies, he is an Holistic Detective.
The actor Samuel Barnett playing him exhibits the right blend of intuition, idiocy and downright annoyingly irritating manner, that demands a smack in the gob. In short he makes a really great and truly apposite Svlad Cjelli, if any viewer of this TV show does not know who that is I suggest you actually read Douglas Adams books now.
Why's Darrin such a prat about Samantha?
This is such a lovely show it remains a firm family favourite we all watched it, though in our case on repeat many years after the original broadcast.
Nonie my partner loved it so much she just had to see the film with Nicole Kidman, I wanted to be able to share it with her and was curious to find out what it was like. We both enjoyed the film and felt Kidman was great in it, personally she even looked remarkably like Elizabeth Montgomery, making her a perfect match. A film review I'll do anon so will leave a more detailed rundown until then.
I won't bother with making any comparisons between the two Darren's, for me both actors were just great in the role. All fans will know something about the actors and their times with the show, so I won't waste my time on it. I feel that they both provided something different to Darrin's persona, in his quirks and idiosyncrasies.
There was also two Mrs Cravitz with different actresses playing the part, again I won't reiterating what every fan of the show knows about the circumstances involved. Really I think that both of them encompassed the role admirably, I found them equally believable as both the annoying nosy parker neighbour, and the irritating spouse who drives her husband up the wall.
I have several favourite characters all of whom were given far too little time in the show, to really allow the full colour of their personality to shine. This is embellished by the stellar performances of the actors, such that one could never imagine anyone else playing the part.
Uncle Arthur is an absolute delight I would love for him to have been a relative of mine, such a great sense of fun and of the absurd. He has an unearing nack for locating the ideal way to drive Darrin and Endora up the wall, rather than to tickle their funny bones.
Aunt Clara is a sheer joy as the adorable quirky auntie, who should really jack in her witchcraft and hang up the spell book. Poor soul can't seem to get the hang of any of her spells, as they all end up with her in some form of lumber. Seeing her arrive at the Stephens household via the fireplace, rather than the front door is brilliant. Her cleptomania for nicking door knobs is hilarious, anyone getting a visit from Aunt Clara will end up with them being unable to navigate their own home.
Doctor Bombay is simply brilliant the ideal G.P. that I would love to consult, that leaves me wishing I was in his medical practice. I would imagine that any self respecting doctor would love, to be able to enjoy such a rich and varied lifestyle.
This show is set in the days of the trend for what became erroneously known as the nuclear family, when men and women knew their place in the overall scheme of things. Men where the head of the household and women were the dutiful house frau, keeping both hubby and house spick and span. Darrin like his dad before him enjoys the role emmensly. and as him he wants a wife to emulate his mother. Darrin's aspirations in life like all good aspiring middle classes is to be upwardly mobile, which includes the house in the suburbs.
Samantha really doesn't know what she is getting herself into when she, decides to live the normal life turning her back on centuries of family and tradition. She actually believes in the mythology and considers that, to be cooped up in the prim and proper environs of suburbia is every women's dream.
But of course Samantha is no ordinary woman with a thoroughly unconventional pedigree, yet she is still determined to fulfil her role in Darrin's life. She is actually proud of the tiny suburban nest that they will inhabit, and is determined to convince her mother Endora of the validity of it. Such that Samantha tries to enthuse about what she intends to do with it, Endora tries to placate her daughter while attempting to appeal to her esthetics, and not to settle with her first mundane choices. Endora can't believe that Samantha really wants to throw away her entire past and future life for one of parochial provincialism, and you can really see her point.
Why does Darrin react as such a pillock when he discovered that Samantha, was not exactly what he was expecting in a potential wife and mother? Yes he is living in the past when it comes to his attitude towards witches and witchcraft, not exactly as per the Salem witch trials. But of the cartoon Walt Disney variety, as is illustrated in his company's ad campaign for a client.
But why settle for the studiously tedious existence, that us mere mortal are forced to contend with? Even a modest house can be made more than just habitable, why deliberately make your life harder than needs be? Mortal human beings rarely have much of a choice about the way their lives pan out, how many of us with even the modicum of common sense couldn't appreciate the idea of living their dreams and not the dismal reality? Let's be honest I would have jacked in my job with alacrity and happily moved to more salubrious surroundings ASAP
Folly to Be Wise (1952)
Nice one Padre
Just catching this film on a Thursday afternoon on the Talking Pictures TV Channel. I only watched it initially as I'm a huge fan of Alastair Sim, and I want to see as many of his films as possible especially unfamiliar ones.
The name of the event that the vicar wants to run is the Brains Trust, not the Brians Trust as has been mentioned elsewhere. This was a programme from my parents generation, that they would know well and I do vaguely remember it.
This has a motley collection of colourful characters and actors, including the following.
Alastair Sim personifies the Reverend William Paris, well meaning bumbling his way through the proceedings. Trying desperately to provide order out of chaos.
Janet Brown, its nice to see her in a film, I'm more used to seeing her later on as an extremely versatile impressionist, something she became famous for. Her character Jessie causes absolute pandemonium, when she asked her innocent question about marriage.
Edward Chapman is on form as the bumptious local Labour MP. I've seen most of him as Mr Grimsdale with Norman Wisdom.
Miles Malleson is perfect as the deaf old coot Dr. Hector McAdam.
Roland Culver absolutely is the arrogant opinionated George Prout, chauvinist husband who becomes maudlin when drunk.
Colin Gordon is the pompous self righteous professor Mutch.
Martita Hunt is the well meaning Lady Dodd who tries to keep her civil head while all around her disintegrates into mayhem.
The Brains Trust is meant to be a forum for erudite philosophical discussion, such was the excuse for the program. But it could simply be an opportunity for pompous big heads to bore the audience rigid.
The vicar as the self appointed master of ceremony, tries his best to pour oil on troubled waters. But he is totally unprepared for the situation as it unravelles before his eyes. Jessie is looking for answers to the eternal questions of love and happiness ever after. Unfortunately her persistence only exaserbates the situation, as she inadvertently unearthed a menage a trois.
Proffesor Hutch has unrequited feelings for Angela Prout, and resents her husbands stupid attitude towards her, feeling she would be betterJe off with him. Angela Prout has feelings for him but not in the way he hopes. George Prout is too pig headed and stupidly arrogant, taking his wife far to much for granted. Jessies question sparks an argument between Proffesor Hutch and George Prout, causing them to inadvertently wash their dirty linen in public.
While the vicar desperately needs to bring the proceedings to a conclusion, hoping never to be involved again he lamely promises to bring back a classical music ensemble for their delectation.
George Cole makes his cameo appearance as a private, to "thank the Padre for the best entertainment they have had, and hoping he will make the Brains Trust a regular event".
I have placed too many spoilers but I won't ruin the ending, suffice to say Jessie gets a pleasant surprise, and George and Angela are reconciled at last.
Go to Blazes (1962)
"Here it's my Harry"
This is a daft film in its story, plot, characters and actors, but that's the whole point after all it is a comedy.
It's great to see people who are normally only the extras, playing the lead characters. It's hard to remember now but Dave King was around a lot in the 50s and 60s almost ubiquitous, as a comic and an all round entertainer. But I just can't recollect anything specific off the top of my head, more of a general feeling of remembrance. I tend to think in terms of TV appearances when it comes to entertainers, and all that stands out is that he was on the box a lot. I missed his other work in films when they were made, and its good to be able to catch up with them now.
There are some very funny moments with well known character actors, playing amusing vignettes.
The ever popular Miles Malleson is hilarious as the fire engine salesman, when he takes exception to the crooks description of the vintage engine. He delights in leaping aboard it shouting enthusiastically "I used to drive one of these" his performance is a sheer joy.
Derek Nimmo is priceless as the distraught householder whose flat is flooded, and he mistakenly imagines that the crooks are actual firemen.
Robert Morely is wonderful as the pyromaniac cohort, he desperately attempts to set fire to the clothes salon, with no luck at all while the manageress managed it by accident.
Maggie Smith is one of my absolutely all time favourite actresses, she is simply gorgeous it's perfectly understandable that Harry can't resist her.
I loved the scenes in Wales when the crooks take the scrap fire engine to nick the newer one. A young Dudley Sutton has a cameo role with one of the worst Welsh accents I've heard.
Hugh Lloyd makes a barely recognisable appearance as a fireman. As does Arthur Lowe as a Warden. John Le Mesurier is quite literally thrown in as a fisherman.
It has a rather daft but nonetheless funny scene when they are called to a fire in a kids tree house, but they should have been more careful where they stashed the loot.
They were still scheming about the next big scheme over the "only car in England that everyone stops for" I would have loved to see what they got up to around that.
"You're the one Jeff, only you"
I missed the original broadcast of this show and, it was years later before I finally caught up with it.
I can't honestly remember which channel I watched it on, or how many of the episodes I have actually watched. My viewing experience of the show over the years is somewhat erratic, with a episode here and there and seldom more than a couple in succession.
I really like the show its a great original idea, excellent characters and cast, and good quirky storylines.
Before I get on with my review I'll get this gripe out of the way, it annoys the heck out of me the way that Annette Andre is described as the shows glamour aspect. in a typically male chauvinistic manner that ignores her acting abilities.
I feel that it's strange for the program to be called My Partner the Ghost in the States, this is not the strangest part, I simply don't believe that yanks can't understand the concept of Deceased. The notion of Focus Groups to help determine viewers ideas on comedies, highlights a key difference between American and British ideas. This sounds more like corporate interference or busybodies. With local businessmen and their parochial view of the world, deciding on what programmes people should be able to watch.
The show revolves around a team of three characters, Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk who run a private detective agency, with Jean Hopkirk acting as their Secretary. They are played to perfection by Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope, and Annette Andre. They work together more of an extended family than workmates, with the couple and their friend.
In the first episode Jeff and Marty are involved in a case where Marty is murdered, but everyone including Jean and Jeff believes it is an accident. Marty is forced to return as a ghost to try and convince a startled and confused Jeff that he was murdered, and their partnership from then on takes on a new dimension.
Through the entire run of the show we mainly see Marty as a ghost, apart from that part of the opening episode My Late Lamented Friend and Partner and that of the Ghost Speaks. When we see Marty in retrospect, Jeff is in hospital and Marty endeavours to describe an important case that he had to solve on his own. Jeff had been away on another case in Scotland, with Jean becoming embroiled in Marty's case, she ended up explaining the case to Jeff.
A lot of the shows humour comes from the interaction between Jeff and Marty, of how they relate and respond to each other. Marty is understandably still very protective of Jean, and worries if he feels anything untoward may happen to her. Because Marty died unexpectantly he still feels emotionally linked to Jean, and he can't let go and allow her to make new relationships. He's frankly jealous of Jeff, and feels impelled to intervene between them. Jeff and Jean only have to meet on the most innocuous of occasions, for Marty to go out of his to find out about it, always assuming the worst.
Yes this show is quirky, made on the cheap, with equivalent production considerations, but personally that's part of the interest and appeal. It's easy for these matters to put people off the program, especially anyone more used to yank shows. American programmes seem to have more disposable income, to aid them to be flasher, and yes quirky but in an altogether more irritating manner. Its of course a matter of opinion as to whether they pull it off, sometimes they manage to, but for me it's as much to do with the manner its told.
American shows appear formulaic, I get the impression that at least some of them are created to a formula. With possibly a Focus Group looking through forms ticking boxes, to meet perceived criteria of who to include, or more likely to represent. These days there seems to be an overwhelming desire, to include or not exclude, just about everyone conceivable. With carefully worked out quotient's of just how quirky to make it.
Whereas brit shows especially those of yesteryear, seemed more inclined to simply play it straight. By not trying to be quirky, they managed to achieve it inadvertently, just like Randall and Hopkirk Deceased.
Passport to Pimlico (1949)
Passport To Burgundy
Classic Quintessentially English Comedy, set in the London Borough of Pimlico in the wake of the second World War.
There is all of the camaraderie, that showed itself during the conflict especially around the blitz. After the war Britain still had to undergo rationing, because essential materials were in short supply. Unlike defeated countries Britain wasn't bombarded with aid to help rebuild the country. People had to learn to what became known as make do and mend, meaning to be self sufficient.
Other effects of the war was unexploded bombs and other munitions, that remained buried where they laid. They were still being unearthed well after the war had finished until the present day, whenever roads were being repaired etc they could still be located.
In the film a bomb is discovered and exploded, this brings to light an underground tunnel with its buried treasure. This it transpired is related to the ancient Borough of Burgundy, when it existed as effectively an indipendant country. And when England was itself made up of similar entities, for the purpose of the film one of those is the part of London Pimlico.
In the film its discovered that Pimlico is part of Burgundy, which at that time meant it wasn't governed or affected by rationing. Which is why people enthusiastically embrace the whole notion of being French.
I love this film for so many reasons, it is a slice of time encapsulated in celluloid, a time of my childhood as I was born in 1948. It is a brilliant film with a mottley collection of colourful characters, and its a veritable who's who of comedy actors of the period. Its great to see so many of them at such an early stage in their careers. For instance Charles Hawtrey as nothing more than a kid, years before he saw fame in the Carry On films. Stanley Holloway is one of my absolute favourite actors from this period as is Margaret Rutherford, I really love them in everything that they have done.
George & Mildred (1976)
"Bath George" "I had a bath last month"
Classic comedy with the brilliant Yootha Joyce, such a tragic loss when she sadly passed away, curtailing the show after the 5th series.
Brian Murphy is excellent as always as George,
they are both great underated actors, and should really have been better used in more comedies.
They really work well together seamlessly as actors, making us really believe that they are the squabbling long suffering Ropers.
The Ropers first appeared as the landlords in another sitcom Man about the House, initially I think they were only intended to be cameo parts, as they were scarcely heard let alone seen. But their appearances however brief proved so popular that the parts were very quickly written up, personally they then made an otherwise mediocre programme really worth watching.
George and Mildred started with the Ropers having to move, as the Council made a compulsory purchase order on the house. Mildred always has aspirations well above George's abilities or inclinations, she insists on them moving upwardly into a posher neighbourhood. While George wanted to accept the Councils offer of moving to what Mildred calls a high rise slum.
The new house is next door to that of the estate agents the Fourmile's, husband Jeffrey is pompous, opinionated and a member of the local Conservative party. He can't abide George but doesn't mind Mildred, and he went out of his way to make out the house had been sold, in the vain hope of them not moving in.
Ann Fourmile is a warm friendly woman who likes both Mildred and George, unlike her husband she is far from being stuck up or pompous. She is beautifully played by the absolutely gorgeous Sheila Fearn, who I've frankly always fancied from first seeing her, in one of my all time favourite comedies the Likely Lads.
Tristan Fourmile is the neighbours little nipper with an invisible pet dog niff niff, played with perfection by Nicholas Bond Owen. He is as his mum so aptly described him to Mildred, as "my little monster" and gets some of the shows best lines.
The show is topped off by Mildred's relatives especially the obnoxious and snooty sister Ethel, and her husband Humphrey the Offal King. They are wonderfully portrayed by Avril Elgar and Reginald Marsh, who are certainly believable as the smarmy avaricious wife and the husband trying vainly to keep up with her expensive tastes.
George and Mildred is a brilliant classic comedy show, and easily one of the best ever to grace the ITV schedules, in the entire history of their broadcasting.
Red Dwarf (1988)
Fans Campaign Needed Bring Back Holly ASAP
This is my overall opinion of the show itself over the entire run not of specific series.
This is one of my all time favourite TV comedy shows, the appeal has nothing to do with the subject matter of sci-fi, as I've never really been a fan of the genre.
It's more of the approach it takes to comedy, I have what I would describe as a somewhat catholic or varied choice, I like stuff that may appear 'quirky' as well as broader material. I found that the off beat idiosyncratic approach and characters was very appealing, it was different and fresh compared to other shows around. Its really about people and how they relate or don't with each other, our foibles that either endear us to others, or irritate the hell out of them.
As a now single bloke I'm well used to my own company, I have my own consideration of my character, which may not be either accurate or as others see me. So I'm not aware of personal quirks as i've no one to quibble about it.
On a visit to my son he remarked that I made a noise when I ate my food. He also lives on his tod so it was something out of the ordinary to him, and he noticed it. "Can't I hear it?" Well no I couldn't honestly say that I had ever even considered it.
The point I'm making is this is where a great deal of the humour comes from, the often tiny things that can drive us bananas when we are forced to share any time with anyone else.
Of the characters Dave Lister is the primary one, he is seen on occasions with crew mates, with whom he like them is a jack the lad character with a rather juvenile sense of fun. The feminine object of his desire is Christine Kochanski, someone with whom he has absolutely nothing in common. As she is attractive, stylish and smart, while he is an absolute slob. She is his fantasy figure and he resolutely persists in believing that he stands a cat in hells chance with her. Why? Because his own appraisal of himself is unrelated to any considerations of reality. This is rather like his belief that he can not only play the guitar, his ability is akin to that of an musical hero.
He is seen mainly on his tod with some of the absolute grossest personal habits, too dire to mention. A brilliant episode where this is amply illustrated, is when the crew encounter their female equivalents. There is a woman who one may imagine would be Lister's ideal, as she is perfectly matched in character and temperament. When they chat together they find this to be the case, but Lister still believes that she is not for him. Why? Because according to him she is well too gauche, too common. When Rimmer tells him that she is him in female form, Lister recoils from the very consideration, subconsciously he may realise it but he can never bring himself to admit it.
Rimmer is a tragically flawed human being with an overwhelming sense of his own self importance. Which is in directly inverse proportions to his actual intellect and abilities. He is also incredibly arrogant and petty someone who positively relishes any opportunity to Lord it over anyone, or anything unlucky enough to be lower in Red Dwarf's pecking order than himself. Great humour comes from Rimmer trying to establish his order, and from him endeavouring to inflict his tastes on others. A wonderful episode that illustrated this is, the one that featured the Despair Squid. Where Lister, Cat and Kryten are forced into quarantine, with Rimmer forcing them to endure a sprout diet, and his choice of recreational and musical materials.
Kryten is the ships dogsbody who carried out the most menial and demeaning chores, with the pleasure of a job well done. Until that is Lister endeavours to persuade Kryten into breaking its programming. Hilarious situations arise in this exercise where Lister starts to persuade Kryten into questioning its own existence. Especially in Kryten's relationship with the crew members in particular Rimmer, from that of subservient machine to the frankly bolshy pseudo human. I really love the attempts of Lister to get Kryten to swear at Rimmer, such as calling him a "smeg head" which comes out as "smeeg heed" absolutely brilliant.
Holly is a wonderful character and I'm eternally grateful to Norman Lovett for insisting that the character should be more than simply a disembodied voice. While I do understand the arguments over who the best actor is to play the part, I don't have a personal favourite as I appreciate what each brings to the role. What I feel is a great mistake in later series while I still love them, is the omission of Holly from the Red Dwarf roster. Let's have a Fans Campaign ASAP, to Bring Back Holly Now.
Cat is an incredibly original and totally bonkers notion but why the hell not? He IS a moggy transmuted into human form, I really love his family story and relationship to Dave Lister. A must see hysterical episode is the one that introduces the character, we actually learn the Cats history and where we get to see the species great ancestor.
The actors playing the characters are absolutely integral and essential to the shows entire existence, now its been so well established its impossible to even imagine anyone else to play the parts? They embody all of the treasured foibles that serve to bring each of them into such smegtastic conflict with each other.
Gimme Gimme Gimme (1999)
Hysterical Fruit Cakes
Brilliantly gross and over the top with a perfect comedy duo, certainly an odd couple in more ways than one. Add to that the pervy landlady Beryl and the kinky couple Suze and Jez neighbours in their digs.
These way out characters inhabit a somewhat bizarre world, living cheek by jowl in close proximity. Their lives interact on a regular basis seeing them popping into each others apartments, on what appears to be every conceivable opportunity.
Linda is played to perfection by the magnificent Cathy Burke, a particular favourite comedy actress of mine, she totally inhabits every part she plays such that she is the character. She is the loud mouthed gross out, man mad sex maniac Linda La Hughes.
James Dreyfus is excellent as Tom Farrell Linda's flat mate, you really believe he is that vane and supercilious a character. This is amply demonstrated in his manner and demeanour in general, and specifically towards Linda and just about everyone he meets.
Rosalind Knight is wonderful as landlady Beryl, it's a pity that her character was not made much more of, as it could have been developed and expanded to be a more important aspect of the show.
Beth Goddard as Suze and Brian Bovell as Jez fit their respective characters well and you do believe that they are those people. They flit into Linda and Tom's lives as neighbours and are constantly treated by them as irritants and general nuisances.
Gimme Gimme Gimme is a brilliant raucous comedy with a fabulous ensemble cast of characters, who are frankly each in their own way fruit cakes. Especially Linda and Tom who while we know that they are their own worst enemies, are really made for each other.
If you haven't seen it give it a try don't worry about any ropey reviews, just watch it and make up your own minds.
The Square Peg (1958)
Norman Pitkin Every Man
I have always loved Norman Wisdom and enjoy all of his films, though a particular flaw I find is the insistence of shoe horning in what I feel are unrealistic elements. His singing voice is reasonable enough but, why the insistence of including any spurious opportunity for him to sing? The other daft element is the love interest for Norman, daft because they are invariably the best looking women in the film.
What makes this film stand out for me is the lack of either of those irritants, and we are left with a great Norman Wisdom film thoroughly enjoyable.
Edward Chapman is Mr Grimsdale the bumptious supercilious cantankerous and officious Borough Surveyor. Grimsdale and Pitkin are as much a double act in this film as they were in all the others. It starts with Pitkin as ever doing the work this time in the road, with Grimsdale as usual sitting on his backside giving the orders. It ends with the tables turned Pitkin has been elevated to the dizzy heights of local Mayor, and Grimsdale remains the same irritating character who is unlikely to be any different.
A particular delight is the scene with Hattie Jacques playing out of character as the German opera singer, her duets with Norman Wisdom in both of his roles are blissfully funny.
Honor Blackman is as ever divine and its obvious that Pitkin would fancy her character, though I must admit I was very pleased that no attempt was made to bring them together.
The wartime setting gives this film a great new scenario and settings for Pitkin and Grimsdale, with the army and Nazis serving as two different sets of adversaries. They are undoubtedly two of the least likely heroes imaginable, certainly not one's to imagine having to rely on in any emergency.
It's easy to say that this is a film that would only appeal to British audiences, and then only to those of a certain age. But while there is some truth in this assumption, his humour is quintessentially British, and he is more likely to be known this side of the pond. I still feel that it's simply a matter of having a funny bone, we all have a sense of humour, it's a matter of what tickles it.
Norman Pitkin is the every man, having to work for a wally, at odds with authority and the world. We can all relate to him, imagine the predicaments he finds himself in, and root for his survival and success.
Doc Martin (2004)
Doctor Martin Ellingham This Is Your Life
Doctor Martin Ellingham is really a suitable case for psychological evaluation, seeing even a small amount of him that could quite easily be the prognosis.
Arrogance and insensitivity might be acceptable for a top London surgeon, but some semblance of a passable bedside manner would be advisable for a local G. P.
Its somewhat surprising that a village the size of Portwen does not have, a small Doctors practice rather than just having 1 doctor doing it all on their own.
Leaving aside any considerations of cod psychology Doc Martin can't even blame his childhood, he is really his own worst enemy. He is so thoroughly self absorbed and has absolutely no consideration for anyone else at all. He is so obtuse and shows no capacity to actually see let alone recognise his own short comings. He much prefers to deflect attention to other people's foibles, or problems many of which he causes himself.
As a surgeon he could feel himself at the top of his game with everyone applauding or cowtowing to him, either way it seemed to feed his ego and self worth. He even had what was possibly a potential soul mate in his work colleague, Edith Montgomery. She is in so many respects, an ideal match, her personality and work ethics clearly mirroring Dr. Ellingham's in so many aspects.
One can only pity any unfortunate offspring that may have emanated from such a union. A Martin Mark 2 from that relationship, compared to one from Ellingham and Glasson, verses the original. Well the thought beggars belief as to which Martin could be the most disagreeable.
In Portwen we get a chance to see a root cause of Doc Martins psychosis when we meet his parents. He does have some feelings for someone else in his aunt Joan, with whom he has happy childhood memories on her local farm. She it transpired had to spend an inordinate amount of her life, actually bringing Martin up. This combined with a home life with a mother, who later blamed Martins birth for the failure of her marriage. This is indeed Your Life Doctor Martin Ellingham.
The Admirable Crichton (1957)
Who's The Guvnor?
In searching for this film on IMDb I obviously used its actual title when it was released in Britain, and was surprised not to find it instead locating a mottly collection of TV programmes.
Finally I found it but by the different title altogether Paradise Lagoon, no wonder I had trouble locating it under its correct film title.
Silly me forgetting that this site IMDb like so many others on the net today, are american predominantly made by and for yanks, with their language or version of English, terms of reference and film titles.
So of course scanning the reviews its scarcely surprising to find that there are references to american TV shows like Gilligans Island, that are barely known this side of the pond. And to see it described as 'also known as The Admirable Crichton' is frankly a bit much.
Back to the film, if I were there I doubt if I'd want to leave such an idyllic location, especially if I'd come from the same social background as Tweeny and Crichton. After all why would I wish to return to being treated as worth less than the dirt on 'my betters' boots?
On the island Englands Class System initially remains intact, with the masters still imagining that they are actually our 'betters'. It's only when Crichton comes to his senses and insists that if they don't like his efforts, that they try and see if they can do any better, things change. It takes having to fend for themselves to start making them see sense, especially when they struggle to provide their own food, while Crichton and Tweeny are doing Okay.
On seeing a ship Crichton didn't need to be laughed at to say "I know my place" and for most of the rest to want to return home to their normal lives.
On returning to 'Civilisation' most of them reverted completely to type with alacrity especially Crichton, they didn't really need to be whipped back to their old ways. Ernest was keen to capitalize on their island experiences by claiming that he had been the leader, creating a fantasy novel out of their lives there. While Lord Loam of course claims all of the credit for himself, as well as all of the leadership qualities.
In 'Normal Society' Lady Brocklehurst proved to be the proverbial fly in the ointment, considering herself to be higher in the aristocratic food chain, she takes it on herself to be the grand inquisitor. She naturally feels in charge and wishes to be assured that nothing untoward occurred on the island, and that the balance of power and of society remained thoroughly intact. The last thing that she could ever tolerate would be that her place in the pecking order is usurped, or that the lower orders would forget their place in her society.
This is a truly classic film with fabulous performances from the stellar cast, Kenneth Moore and Cecil Parker are both on fine form, as are all of the splendid personel. I heartily recommend this excellent film to everyone who enjoys a good flic.
The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963)
Comedy Bank Promises to Pay the Bearer in Laughs
Look out for a Grass in a Skirt
Great ensemble crime caper with a veritable who's who of comedy talent, on both sides of the law, its good to see so many of them all together in the one picture. This all slots into place with excellent characters working seamlessly together.
Petter Sellers excellently cast as criminal mastermind Pearly Gates. Lionel Jefferies brilliant as Inspector Nosy Parker of the Yard. John Le Mesurier as the Assistant Commissioner of police. Bernard Cribbins inimitable as chief villain Nervous O'Toole. Nanette Newman is femme fatal Valerie girl friend and grass.
Crooks getting turned over by the old bill but are they really coppers? Now why didn't they look at the similarities between the cases? Exactly how many Aussie coppers could there have been on the streets of London? This point is never considered by anybody either side of the legal divide, very strange that if you ask me.
The Big Heist is supposed to involve real money to make things totally believable, and Pearly Gates must surely have at least considered doing doing a bunk with the dosh. He should have thought things through about the possibility, of a police double cross on the money. After all how likely would it be for the old bill, to risk that amount of money being in circulation?
"Rumpole of the Boudoir
Rumpole gets a change from crime with a divorce case as The Wife, with his fellow Chambers Barrister George Frobisher as The Husband. They take the Case and their parts in it very seriously, sparring over it at tea in Frobisher's hotel digs.
But Rumpole is forced to muse over the rising Divorce rate, with cause to wonder at Married life. Rumpole family life, "Sometimes I wonder why we keep all this going?" spake Hilda, of the Rumpole's Palacial Mansion. "Daddy was always in Chambers by 9am" Hilda moaning of Rumpole still being at home at that hour. Hilda again, "Daddy was always at Chambers until 6pm every day" Perhaps he did that to get away from his "She who must" and get time to do the Times Crossword in peace.
Marriage to Rumpole has not endeard him to Hilda, and she does not appreciate the Divorcee phoning him at home for advice at all hours. Such that she takes time out from their home life and "Your Harem", to help her best friend Dodo with her tea shop. Hilda can't resist leaving Rumpole with a passing barbed comment of, "You know Rumpole Dodo never liked you" which speaks volumes for Hilda's attitude to their married life.
Rumpole is assisted in his Divorce case by the Chambers keen new female Barrister Philida Trant, a former pupil of Erskine Brown.
Rumpole's next case is representing an owner of a Bawdy House, and Miss Trant gets the Brief for the Prosecution in the same case. She asks Rumpole for advice, of how much law should she take. He totally misleads her by saying "take a taxi full" and she is surprised to find he is the Defending Council. She learns a useful legal lesson in losing the case, to never trust Rumpole.
This is one e of my absolute all time favourite comedies, with a brilliant cast of comedy characters, top notch actors and excellent scripts.
Norman Stanley Fletcher is in all likelihood the least possible candidate for a comic icon, and prison one must imagine would be the last location ever chosen. TV executives would be horrified at the very notion of it, let's face it what corporation in the States would be likely to sponsor such an idea?
Porridge marks what must be in many ways Ronnie Barker's signature comedy master class as the old lag Fletcher. Richard Beckinsale was perfect as the young cellie Lennie Godber, naive and serving his first stretch. It was a desperately tragic loss when he passed away especially at such a tender age. Fulton Mackay is the Chief Prison Warden Mr. Mackay personified, severe and authoritarian. Brian Wilde is splendid as Mr. Barrowclough the Prison Warden, who believes in prisoners rehabilitation rather than punishment.
There is also a marvellous assembly of support actors and characters, with many of Britain's best character actors. David Jason plays an old lag Blanco in sadly only a cameo appearance popping up in just 3 episodes. His disguise was so good that I honestly didn't recognise him at all. Christopher Biggins is Lukewarm Sam Kelly is Bunny Warren Tony Osoba is McLaren Brian Glover is Heslop Peter Vaughan is genial Harry Grout Slade prison Mr. Big
When Fletcher finally decided to jack in his life of crime there followed Going Straight, something that I and mine really enjoyed, but more anon. The really Bad idea from the Beeb was for the complete relaunch of the show, set 40 years after Fletcher finished his last stretch. Whether or not its written by the original script writers, I found it impossible to even bother to watch the first episode. After the pilot episode Auntie made a full series which they claimed was a great success, so why did they cancel it? Exiting new series in the pipeline yeah right.
The Green Green Grass (2005)
Not Fools & Horses But who cares?
I was very surprised and somewhat shocked when I heard that there was to be a follow-up to Only fools and horses, and the last characters that I imagined would have one was the Boyce's.
I watched the first episode not expecting anything at all from it, but it wasn't that bad so I decided to give it a fair trial, and saw a few more. I can only say that I was pleasantly surprised by it, as it rather started to grow on me.
I think it is a funny program in its own right, not a match for its predecessor but few programs are, its characters are humorous and larger than life, its plots reasonable and well realised. All in all I like it far better than I ever imagined that I might, it really is a good laugh and thoroughly enjoyable.
I can understand the idea of making a fresh start with a new program, but it would have been a nice idea to have had some cross over from the two programs. Only Denzil and the Driscoll's made any appearances at all, with Denzil merely a cameo, and others only received a passing mention.
I think that the Boyce family became nicely fleshed out, with their characters developing over the successive episodes. I found him easier to handle in this programme, not exactly likeable I would not go that far, but a more rounded human being. It certainly helped to have Marlene's character made more of, and being able to see them more as a couple instead of waring adversaries.
In all honesty I found Boycie a somewhat irritating character in Fools and horses. Certainly on first viewing he appeared something of a nasty piece of work. Definitely not someone who I would ever have seen as a childhood friend. He had a terrible reputation over his business dealings, with forged car log books, and for flogging dodgy motors. Second hand motors from Boyce's show rooms, were likely at the least to have been clapped out old bangers. At worst insurance write offs, that had been 'cut and shut' a phrase from the action of dodgy car dealers. This refers to the practice of making one whole car from two damaged ones, not necessarily in the safest possible manner. When the Trotters finally became millionaires Boycie would have been the absolutely last car dealer, that I could ever have touched with a preverbial barg pole.
The Durrells (2016)
It's Entertainment NOT Real life
This show is based on the childhood memories of Gerald Durrell, written up later as novels.
In viewing this programme we have to bare in mind, how accurate can a child be in their recollection of times passed. They tend to view their existence through a prism shaped by their experiences.
My knowledge of Gerald Durrell. is through his book My family and other animals, or more accurately others ideas of it. And of his zoo in Jersey which I finally saw for myself much later in my life. The zoo was an attempt at the preservation of endangered animal species.
I watched and enjoyed this as escapist television entertainment, and will continue to do so as its great fun, well scripted, cast and acted in idyllic locations. I find it a good way to whittle away an hour per each episode, its a great ensemble piece of TV, the cast is perfectly matched gelling well together as a totally believable family unit.
Yes they are bratty its to be expected given the family circumstances, dad dying and the mum dislocating the family to up sticks and move abroad. The kids are spoilt precocious and awkward, given far too much latitude by a mum, who cares a bit to much for her offsprings for their own good.
From watching this I get a different view of Gerald Durrell, he should never have have been allowed to keep wild animals as pets, and definitely not in the family home. By all means take an interest in and study them, but in their natural habitats where they can be properly appreciated.
Steptoe and Son (1962)
Where there's muck
One of my absolute favourite comedy shows, and one of the best ever made.
Wilfred Brambell and Harry H. Corbett are exemplary as Albert and Harold, I hadn't seen either of them before so I didn't have any expectations. I simply just enjoyed watching the brilliant comedy, set in a totally different environment than any other show. With well crafted stories enacted more as plays than conventional sitcoms.
It was strange for me watching them years later, I found myself reacting more to the situations and the characterisations, than just watching the show as I had previously. My son was doubtless right that it was possibly a sign of how good the acting was.
One of my favourite early episodes is where they go looking at new houses, sadly the quality of the monochrome film is such that it spoilt my enjoyment. I have a few of the DVDs from some of the episodes broadcast in colour, where sadly they are only viewable in monochrome. There was a break in broadcasting of a few years but I think the latter episodes were just as consistently good as any others.
Regrettably the Beeb had the worst attitude towards light entertainment programmes, in the early days of broadcasting. The earliest were live, this was before the advent of video recording, and the only way to record TV shows was on cine film. The BBC did not bother to tape most comedies, many of those they did had the tapes reused. Many of the earliest episodes of Steptoe only survived, thanks to the sterling work of the shows Appreciation Society, and certainly not to Auntie Beeb.
I don't trust the Documentaries about the program, which invariably tend to dwell on what I consider to be spurious considerations, of the alleged personal antagonism between the principal actors. Family members of the actors contradict that notion and I'd prefer to believe them than erroneous speculation.