The great British sitcom

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Mel O'Drama, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. Ome
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    There was a time back in the late 70s where I didn't have anything from Grease and so I recorded this version off the Radio, just so I could listen to the song. That said, I didn't listen to it that often, well, they just couldn't give me the same vibe that Olivia & John gave. :D
     
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  2. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh my. :eek:


    No indeed. Hylda's version is too raunchy by far. That must be why my I never knew about it at the time: my parents probably thought I was too young and innocent to be exposed to it.
     
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  3. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Nearest And Dearest is over now. At least in a manner of speaking.

    The final series continued the enjoyment. The final episode was an "away from home" one, where Nellie and Eli were staying in a remote house that was said to be haunted. It was fun enough, but far from a definitive ending. Even the line in which it was revealed that the beetroot boiler had blown up didn't make it sound serious enough for the show to end.

    It was a nice little run and a worthy discovery for me.

    I finished the fun off with the film version, which basically lifted the scripts of a handful of episodes (Nellie and Eli's holiday in Blackpool, for example. Or the one where Nellie was almost proposed to) and re-shot them with some nicer location footage. It was pleasing to see all the regulars get their moment on the big screen. Apart from Stan's gurning friend, of course, who was recast.

    In all, a nice little time capsule for the show. The tone is a little different for film, but it still worked fine.
     
  4. Mel O'Drama
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    Sneakily, I'm already over halfway through my next Britcom, which is a natural successor to Nearest And Dearest in every sense of the word:

    [​IMG]

    Not On Your Nellie is pretty much a sequel, successor and alternative version to Nearest And Dearest. Hylda Baker's other Nellie - Pickersgill here, as opposed to Pledge - is the same character. It's not even a subtle variation. All Nellie Pledge's mannerisms and catchphrases were present on screen within the first five minutes of the first episode.

    Like the film version of Nearest And Dearest, scenarios, catchphrases and even entire scripts get recycled here. The most blatant was the episode in which Nellie left in a huff to take on her own apartment. Most of it was identical - right down to the words spoken by the Australian guy in the bath.

    So what's new? Well, the setting is now a pub in Chelsea rather than a pickle factory in Lancashire. Nellie butts heads with her Dad rather than her brother (this has given us one of the series' new catchphrases, where Nellie tells him to "shut your mouth and put your teeth in", leading to the disgusting visual of her Dad doing just that). Lily and Walter have been replaced by a gay couple (silent Walter replacement Gilbert's flamboyant dress sense gives the series another of its new catchphrases where Nellie asks him "What are you today, Gilbert? Oh, you're one of those, are you?").

    If the gay couple are something less than a true breakthrough, the comments directed at - and even spoken by - Asian character Ali are just awful. Probably over 75% of the little spoken dialogue he's involved in relates to his skin colour.

    The barmaids have been a nice touch. The first series had Alexandra Dane as Beryl, who I associate with her few small but tit-centric roles in Carry On films. Her boobs were on display again here, with a nice little recurring gag lifted from a Nearest And Dearest scene where Nellie keeps ducking to march underneath said mammaries. Truthfully, it was good to see Alexandra here. This is the most substantial role I've seen of hers, and she came across well. With Series Two she's vanished, replaced by Brahms-era Wendy Richard as Doris. Once again, she's an enjoyable part of the show.
     
  5. J. R.'s Piece
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    I was fond of Brass, which came from John Stevenson and Julian Roach, who both wrote for Coronation Street for decades. I met one of it’s stars, Caroline Blakiston, earlier this month. Although it lost something with the third and final series being set later, shifting format and losing both Robert Reynolds and Geoffrey Hinsliff.





    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=20lzDsNmXyU
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zmw2R10slH0
     
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  6. Mel O'Drama
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    The third series of Not On Your Nellie has seen some drastic changes. None for the better.

    Gone are Nellie's father Jed; George (the vocal one of the gay couple); underground worker Ali and Wendy Richard as Doris the barmaid. In come Jack Douglas as Nellie's cousin and Sue Nicholls as new barmaid Big Bertha.

    All of it feels a bit pointless and ad hoc. Worst of all, none of the changes have been explained. Dialogue has mentioned that Walter lives alone but nobody's mentioned George. Watching Walter without George feels like just what it is: one half of a double act floating aimlessly round trying unsuccessfully to fit in. Without a domineering partner speaking for him, his silence makes no sense at all now. Jack Douglas's Stanley is already ensconced in the Brown Cow and playing the same role Jed did. Remember, too, that Jed was simply a substitute for N&D's Eli and it's even more bizarre. I'm not a fan of Jack Douglas's style of comedy and this character sums up why. A daft haircut and glasses do not a comic icon make. Bertha is the most acceptable of the arrivals. In fact I kind of like the idea that each series would have a new barmaid.

    The show has continued to recycle lines, plots and entire scripts from Nearest And Dearest, which adds to the futility. It's not a terrible, unwatchable show. But it all feels a little pointless.

    Series Three has only four episodes, of which I've watched two. From what I understand, things are about to get even more curious with Hylda Baker's on-set injury affecting the last two shows with Nellie appearing in a wheelchair in the next episode and not appearing at all in the final episode, having walked out and started legal action against LWT. It will be interesting to watch the series ending for that reason alone, but I'm not expecting it to be very good.


    While I was aware of it, Brass passed me by when it first aired.

    Maybe I could look into watching it. I have enjoyed the Corrie-esque style of Pardon The Expression and Nearest And Dearest, both of which shared production staff (and cast) with Corrie, so I have a feeling I'd enjoy it.
     
  7. Mel O'Drama
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    And that's pretty much it. The final episode to feature Hylda Baker was enjoyable enough of a fashion. Her wheelchair was even worked into the comedy of the plot. The story itself, by the way, was lifted from Nearest And Dearest. If I remember correctly this is an amalgam of an episode with a French visitor and one where they looked after a young relative. It was al very familiar- right down to the scripts. Every word felt like it had previously been spoken on Nearest And Dearest. It wasn't as good as the episodes it blatantly ripped off... but it wasn't bad either.

    Then came the Nellie-less final episode, which was just mind-bogglingly dire. Not only did Nellie not appear, but Alf, another relative of Jack Douglas's Stanley turned up played by Douglas himself. Which was of course Douglas's annoying twitchy characterisation. Then Stanley was quickly written out for it to become the Alf show. Frankly it was painful to watch.

    With Baker having suddenly disappeared, I imagine the writers and actors were under pressure. But the episode just felt like Jack Douglas mucking about doing bad, unfunny physical comedy. It had "let me just try this" written all over it. Kind of like watching a rehearsal where someone has a go at something that doesn't quite work well enough to make it in. The most unforgivable thing was it resembled nothing of what the show was originally set up to be. If the final episode proves anything, it's that the powers that be did the right thing by cutting the series short rather than allowing it to become The Alf Show.



    According to some dialogue in one of the last two episodes, Bertha is actually Gilbert's sister. OK then.


    I meant to write "Gilbert" of course. Walter is the Nearest And Dearest character that Gilbert is substituting. And boy, was Walter sorely missed.
     
  8. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Next up is another from the Seventies and another that's brand new to me...


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Written by Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer, Father Dear Father has that same jaunty, trendy, swinging theme tune as their later series such as Man About The House. The two daughters too, who look constantly unimpressed at their square of a father, would fit into that series.

    In deciding whether to buy this series or not, I watched one episode on YouTube - a Series Three episode called This Is Your Wife - and I was sold.

    Three episodes in and everyone's been likeable so far. The writing is mildly amusing and the situations familiar sitcom territory. Already we've had the one with the ex-wife's new husband thinking fires are being rekindled; the one where a misheard conversation leads the adults to believe one of the daughters is pregnant; and the one where the daughters write a book based on real people (all very Please Turn Over). It's all quite safe, but good fun. It feels terribly British and very much of its time - two selling points as far as I'm concerned.

    The St. Bernard playing H.G. Wells is stealing the show. Whenever he appears in a scene I can't take my eyes off him. He's adorable and has a wonderfully jaded expression on his face constantly.
     
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  9. Ome
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    5 pence for the TV Times....?

    Floor.jpg
     
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  10. Mel O'Drama
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    I know! It's quite shocking.

    I don't think I can remember it being anything less than 20 or 25p, and that was probably only a decade after this 5p copy.
     
  11. Daniel Avery
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    Could you describe the premise of this show? It looks...familiar.
     
  12. Mel O'Drama
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    I'll be glad to have a go, Daniel. If I've been paying attention, the premise is thus:

    Middle aged divorced crime writer lives in Hampstead with his two blonde daughters - both in their late teens - their loyal housekeeper, Nanny and their St Bernard dog, H.G. Wells. He's also in regular contact with his attractive female agent where sparks fly. Now and then, the ex-wife will drop by. Hilarity ensues.

    Pretty much every episode throughout the first series has hinged on a misunderstanding.

    It's written by the same people behind Man About The House and George & Mildred. Or, as they became when reworked for the US, Three's Company and The Ropers.
     
  13. Daniel Avery
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    Thanks! When you first mentioned this series, it sounded a lot like Empty Nest, an American sitcom that featured a single father whose two adult daughters lived with him. They even had Dreyfuss, a St. Bernard/Labrador mix who often stole the show with his antics. If EN had been a rip-off of FDF, I would have been disappointed, since Susan Harris never mentioned "her" show concept was not actually hers. Still, from what you describe, FDF is different "enough" not to be confused with Empty Nest, since the mother was dead in this series, and instead of a housekeeper/nanny, they had an annoying neighbor who dropped by to eat out of their fridge and insult the eldest daughter. The father was a doctor, and instead of an agent, he has an overbearing nurse/assistant who was definitely not a love interest.
     
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  14. Mel O'Drama
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    Friday night saw a rare indulgence: I sat on the sofa all evening and watched all half dozen episodes from Series Two of Father, Dear Father. And the first couple of colour episodes that opened Series Three. It wasn't planned - I just started watching and didn't feel the need to stop. Best of all was that it didn't feel anything like as many as it was. To the point I was quite surprised when the Series Two disc went back to the menu at the end of the last episode after what felt like three or four.

    So it's safe to say this series is a devilishly easy and charming watch. There's a simplicity to it: stock sitcom situations and characters. But I suspect that simplicity is the most difficult aspect to write and make work this well. It doesn't always jump off the screen, but there's a genuine cleverness to the way the farcical miscommunications are written.

    This is greatly helped by a top-notch cast, almost all of whom have stage experience. Indeed, I've found it interesting that many actors in guest roles get a credit at the end saying which play they are currently appearing in or which theatre company they are a member of. Indeed, the guests so far are a veritable who's who of British comedy: Donald Sinden in a memorable appearance as Patrick's brother (the first of several, I believe); June Whitfield; Richard O'Sullivan; Beryl Cooke (Happy Ever After's Aunt Lucy); Stephen Lewis; Brian Wilde; Ballard Berkeley; Dandy Nicholls, Bella Emberg, Eric Barker and Richard Wattis.

    H.G. Wells has been usurped as the resident scene-stealer by Joyce Carey as Patrick's eccentric and forgetful mother.

    One of the most impressive aspects of the series is the title sequence. Or should I say title sequences. Like many other sitcoms, the opening of Father, Dear Father opens with a memorable, quirky set-piece involving a great deal of location work and stunts. But whereas most series would change their title sequence just once or twice during the entire run - if that - Father, Dear Father has a completely different sequence for every episode. And we're not talking falling off a deckchair here. The openings have involved motorbike sidecars, washing the Rolls Royce, even speedboat catastrophes. They had to have cost a great deal of money which is another sign of the quality here.


    I've never quite forgiven Empty Nest for the backdoor pilot which ran as an episode of The Golden Girls but bore no resemblance to a GG episode. Maybe I should. Was it any good?
     
  15. Daniel Avery
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    Oh, the Empty Nest that was picked up to series was quite enjoyable--a really good companion piece to GG when the two ran side-by-side on Saturday nights. It also anchored their Saturday lineup after GG left the air. The backdoor pilot that aired as a Golden Girls episode was pretty lousy stuff, so the retooling was so intense that hardly anything survived (the kitchen set, I believe). Luckily Rita Moreno managed to get...a few other jobs afterward. ;) Richard Mulligan, Kristy McNichol, Dinah Manoff, and Park Overall were the main stars, with Marsha Warfield and Estelle Getty (as Sophia!) joining later in the series.

    Okay, back to the Britcoms! :tv1:
     
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  16. Mel O'Drama
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    Well that's got to be good news, I think.


    Having read about the crossovers that GG, EN and Nurses sometimes did I'd love to have experienced that. I do have dim memories of watching Nurses - usually when one of the Girls appeared in it - but I don't recall serious crossovers like Hurricane Sunday. I suspect the episodes were out of sync by the time they got to the UK (although The Golden Girls was very popular here, so it's possible Channel 4 did air them correctly and I just missed it).



    Oh... erm... :oops:

    Well, speaking of crossovers and backdoor pilots, a Series Three episode of Father, Dear Father was called A Man About The House. The episode had the girls taking in a male friend who was having marital problems but having to hide him from their father Patrick whose skiing trip was cut short when he injured his ankle.

    Man About The House, which had the same creative team, was still over three years away at this point. But it's noteworthy that it did hit some of the same marks: the two girls and their platonic relationship with the man; the idea that the older man would be outraged if he realised two women and a heterosexual man were sharing the same space; the older woman being somewhat in on the secret (Nanny here, Mildred in Man About The House) the increasingly farcical methods of hiding their friend (towards the episode's end, the girls drag their friend up in their clothes and try to pass him off as a woman).

    While I don't think it was intended as any kind of dry run, and perhaps it wasn't even directly responsible for inspiring the later series, I can't help feeling that the seed for the Man About The House series was sown with this episode.

    Series Four is now underway in the O'Drama household. I'm now greatly looking forward to my nightly fix.
     
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  17. Mel O'Drama
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    My endearment for Father, Dear Father increases further with each passing episode. There's a feeling of quality without pretension. It all looks so simple and easy, but I'm chortling loudly throughout entire episodes. Each character is likeable and funny and the guest-stars all fit in really well. Recurring guests such as Donald Sinden and Tony Britten as well as one-offs like Leslie Phillips show the calibre of person good writing attracts.

    After six full series, the chemistry is still there. If anything it gets better. Semi-regulars such as Patrick's mother, ex-wife Barbara, Barbara's husband Bill and agent Georgie are all still in place (albeit the latter two having been carefully recast over the years), adding a feeling of stability.

    With Series Six there's been a bit of a change of tone. The opening credits are more prosaic than comedic, and it's a bit strange waiting for a punchline or physical comedy moment that doesn't come. I think only one episode had opening credits with a comedy "story" where they were writing a name on a boat which ended up upside down. The good news with the sixth series credits is that semi-regulars, when they appear, have been included in the sequences. It's good to see them interacting this way and getting their due credit.

    This year has seen the introduction of a wonderfully sparky rivarly between Barbara and Georgie who exchange barbed comments while smiling politely at each other. This gives us thoroughly enjoyable lines such as "You look so well. I wouldn't have recognised you... if it wasn't for the dress".

    In the last couple of series, Nanny has clicked with me. Earlier on, Nöel Dyson's reserved manner has at times seemed almost too polite for a sitcom, but that doesn't feel the case anymore. Whether it's me getting a grasp on the character, the writers playing to Dyson's strengths or Dyson herself taking a slightly different approach it's hard to say. Perhaps it's a bit of all of these. In more recent episode, Nanny's ingenuous nature and deadpan delivery (innocent almost to the point of being glazed over and switched off entirely) has put me in mind of Wendy Craig as Ria in Butterflies.

    An ongoing storyline over the last half of Series Six has seen the introduction of Tim Tanner - a photographer who has fallen for Patrick's elder daughter Anna. It sounds incredibly rushed to consider that he was introduced in one episode, proposed in the next and was Patrick's son-in-law in the one after that. But the writing has made it all feel natural and unforced and it helps immensely that Jeremy Child is endearing as Tim and gels very well with the ensemble. The sixth series ended with the announcement that the place Anna and Tim were planning to move into had fallen through, letting us know that Anna's going nowhere and Tim will more than likely be joining the ensemble for the final series. Which is a change I'll welcome.
     
  18. Mel O'Drama
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    The final series of Father, Dear Father was as enjoyable as those that came before. Of the seven, it didn't feel like there was an "off" year or any run of sub-par episodes. It's one of my more consistent Britcom viewing experiences. The series ended without any kind of acknowledgement, but with the feeling - as with every episode - that life will go chaotically on for everyone.


    My next series isn't strictly speaking a Britcom. It was made in Australia. However it does have British pedigree. In fact it's spun directly off from a British series with two of the main cast members...


    [​IMG]

    The concept for the Australian version of Father, Dear Father is charmingly familiar: With both his daughters now married (Karen having wed in the five years since the series ended), Patrick has gone to Australia to research a book he is writing, taking Nanny along with him. He plans to stay with his brother (not Donald Sinden, alas, but the never before mentioned Jeffrey). On arrival he finds his brother leaving for England (I forget why). This leaves him stuck with looking after Jeffrey's two daughters for six months. After a couple of episodes, homesick and missing H.G. Wells (aren't we all), Patrick is presented with two new St Bernards. In simple terms, every element of the British show has simply been transposed Down Under.

    The transition was eased by the presence of Patrick Cargill and Noël Dyson. The first episode even had guest appearances from Mother, Barbara and was written by the original writers.

    There's no doubt that something feels a bit "off" in the new version. Beyond episode one there's no Barbara, no Mother, no Georgie, no Anna, Karen, Bill, Timothy or H.G. Moreover, it's lost that stiff upper middle class thing that gave it a terribly British charm. It's made by The Seven Network, so the house interiors feel like early Neighbours or something. Rather than a Jaguar, Patrick has been seen driving a Mini Moke which would be inconceivable in the original series. Then there are the commercial breaks. The ITV version had one break in the middle. The Aussie one has the break every six minutes. For the first time, that jaunty jingle is getting mildly annoying due to saturation. I don't find the two girls very endearing here. I can't even remember their names, much less tell you which is which. They're not as likeable as Anna and Karen, certainly and even in their scenes together it feels like they operate in a vacuum compared with Patrick and Nanny, which throws off the whole concept.

    The writing isn't as sharp as the British series by any stretch. It seems worse than it is because of the series' other defects, but objectively it's actually quite fair.

    It's not all bad news. The Britishness of the whole thing is replaced by Australian charm, and the writers are making use of the culture clash - particularly where Patrick is concerned. There's a nice running gag where Nanny has effortlessly transitioned to the new lifestyle and throws in the occasional Australian expression in her terribly proper English way.

    The Aussie soap world is an incestuous one with the same faces cropping up in every series. I was hoping there'd be lots of familiar names and faces in this show, but while some have been vaguely familiar, the only actor I've been able to definitively recognise so far has been Judi Farr who played Welsh temptress Councillor Alderman Mrs Bullock in Number 96 (which gives me the perfect excuse to post one of my favourite scenes from 96):

     
  19. TJames03

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    Any time Mrs. Slocombe mentioned her "kitty," I laughed.
     
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