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On the Buses: Love Is What You Make It
(1972)
Episode 2, Season 6

''I go for the ineffectual type!''
Fed up of the constant fighting between Olive and Arthur, Stan takes Olive to see a marriage guidance counsellor, who suggests Olive try and make herself more sexually alluring to Arthur.

Stan and Mrs. Butler then give Olive a makeover and Olive tries to make an effort to woo Arthur by arranging a candlelight dinner for the two of them. However, upon seeing her new appearance, he bursts out laughing.

Olive then tries getting back at Arthur by flirting with Blakey when he turns up at the house unexpectedly in an attempt to make him jealous...

In these 'woke' times, Arthur's treatment of Olive, will be one thing sure to be cast up by these PC fruits about how she was a downtrodden wife. One thing that must be noted is that, whilst Arthur's treatment of Olive is indeed unacceptable, Olive does often give back as good as she gets, matching him insult for insult and, on one or two occasions, physically attacking him ( she lunged at him with a tin opener in the season four episode 'The Other Woman', only to be disarmed by Stan ). A doormat she most certainly was not!

Good episode from the pens of George Layton and Jonathan Lynn ( the former who at this time was appearing in 'Doctor In Charge' for LWT ). Johnny 'Mike Baldwin' Briggs has a minor role as a randy window cleaner.

Funniest moment - catching Blakey and Olive together, Arthur naturally gets the wrong end of the stick. ''I came to see her mum!'' says Blakey nervously. ''You're a sex maniac!'' hollers Arthur as he makes to thump the terrified inspector!

On the Buses: No Smoke Without Fire
(1972)
Episode 1, Season 6

''I can give up smoking anytime!''
Blakey has placed a ban at the depot on smoking due to someone accidentally causing a fire with a carelessly discarded cigarette. He then berates Stan for his chain smoking habit. Stan claims he can demonstrate willpower and quit smoking, prompting Jack to stake a £5 wager he cannot stick it out.

At home, Stan frustrates his family by over-eating in an attempt to take his mind off smoking. Arthur then bets Stan a tenner he cannot give up smoking.

At bedtime, Stan lays tossing and turning in bed, craving a fag and so nips to the loo to have a sly puff. Catching him, Arthur gleefully informs Stan he has lost the bet, however Stan later catches him trying to have a crafty fag and so the bet is called off.

The next day, Stan attempts to have a sneaky smoke on their break however when he is almost caught by Jack, he places in a panic the burning cigarette in the used ticket bin, which ends up setting fire to the bus....

A good start to the penultimate series of 'On The Buses', best appreciated by people, like myself, who have found it difficult to give up a vice such as smoking ( I managed to give it up due to my wife telling me she couldn't stand feeling like she was kissing an ashtray ). The site of the burning bus in the middle of a grassy wasteland is an unusually macabre sight for 'On The Buses'. This was probably due to the change in scriptwriters. Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney were busy with other commitments and so were unavailable for providing scripts, so the job went on to not just Bob Grant and Stephen Lewis, but also George Layton and Jonathan Lynn.

What, may you ask, was the aftermath of Stan setting fire to the bus? Well, in order to claim for a new bus, the company blame the fire on faulty wiring. However, Stan's victory is short lived when Jack reminds him he owes him a fiver for not honoring his bet!

Funniest moment - Stan and Jack attempting to rescue Blakey from the top deck of the burning bus by using part of a broken fence as a ladder, however Blakey loses his balance and ends up plunging into a nearby pond!

The Squirrels
(1974)

''It drove me nuts!'' I believe someone once said!
Sitcom writer Eric Chappell will always be remembered with justification for creating the wonderful 'Rising Damp', which starred the much missed Leonard Rossiter. It is easy then to forget that his first sitcom success actually came with 'The Squirrels', an ATV sitcom set in a failing accounts office for a TV rental firm. Having tried to watch it recently, I can understand why it has been forgotten.

Ken Jones at this time was becoming well known to viewers for his role as 'Orrible Ives' in 'Porridge' and around about the same time landed the leading role in this series as Rex, the yes-man to head of International Rentals Mr Fletcher ( Bernard Hepton ). Working with him were troublemaking womanizer Harry ( Alan David ) and the ideally named, comic reading mummy's boy Burke ( Ellis Jones ). Rex's life at home was equally unstable. His wife Susan ( played by Patsy Rowlands ) often bore the brunt of his tantrums.

Every now and then a writer throws up a runt, and this was the case with Eric Chappell here, though considering this was his first show, we can cut him some slack. It was not until the arrival of 'Rising Damp' that things looked to be on the up for him.

It was popular at the time, but looked at now one is put off by the substandard dialogue and below-par acting. In 1991, Chappell revamped the idea for what turned out to be his final sitcom, the short lived, and equally mediocre, 'Fiddlers Three'.

Dead of Night
(1945)

''Just room for one inside, sir!''
'Dead Of Night' came to my attention about ten years ago whilst I was dating who is now my wife. One night whilst visiting her at her parents' house, they invited me to watch a film with them. The choice of film was none other than John Baines' and Angus McPhail's 1945 picture 'Dead Of Night'.

Truth to tell, the plot of the film did not sound particularly interesting to me when i first heard about it, however I did not want to offend who were soon to be my in-laws so I reluctantly sat down to watch the film with them, and to my surprise, within five minutes I was hooked.

Architect Walter Craig one night is invited to a soiree at a country house and is horrified to find that the inhabitants of the house are all people he has seen in his previous nightmares. He also shocks everyone there by revealing he can predict events before they occur.

Additionally, all of the people in the house inform Walter of when they themselves have experienced an inexplicable situation.

It is slow moving but given its age one does need to cut it some slack. The graphics by today's standards are poor, especially with a scene in which a ventriloquist dummy comes to life and attempts to kill Walter. The ventriloquist dummy could not possibly have been a child in make-up, could it?

Mervyn Johns, Googie Withers, Frederick Valk, Roger Culver and Michael Redgrave are among the many in the cast whose excellent performances bring the film to life.

One thing that intrigued me about the film was the fact that not one of the characters was seen without a cigarette in their hand. Was it the done thing to chain smoke in those days?

Not exactly the high-tech graphics of 'Avatar' but worth a look.

The Wizard of Oz
(1939)

''There's no place like home!''
Considering the longevity of this film's popularity, I feel it would be pointless going into detail about its plot, so I will be constructing my review based entirely on my opinion of it. Quite simply, it is a classic, both wonderfully written and performed.

I first saw 'The Wizard Of Oz' in 1998 at the age of seven when I viewed it at primary school. I took to it immediately, though I did not dare own up to it at the time in front of my classmates. Boys at my school got bog washed for less!

Judy Garland, a talent which ended way too soon in my opinion, is simply wonderful as Dorothy, though it would not be fair to give her all of the credit for the success of the film. Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton were also key to the movie's appeal.

I did not care much for the musical sequences ( partly because I am not always a fan of musicals ), but the rest of the film is a delight, even the S.F.X is rather impressive given the era in which the film was made.

A timeless classic ( though sometimes it is uncomfortable viewing it in the knowledge that there were many problems behind the scenes between the cast and crew ), enjoyed by the young and old alike.

In 2007, a sell-out theatre production of 'The Wizard Of Oz' directed by Nigel West ran for several weeks at the The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, featuring Lydia Griffiths as Dorothy, Matthew Kelly as The Wizard, Gary Wilmot as The Scarecrow, Russ Abbot as the Tin Man and Gregor Fisher as The Cowardly Lion. It is to my bitter regret that I was unable to see this production.

Bullseye
(1981)

''Let's see what you could have won!''
Though no fan of the late Jim Bowen, I must admit that I enjoyed this darts based game show, helped by the fact that I am not averse to the odd game of darts myself. The long running Central Television game show began in 1981 and at its peak pulled in viewers in the region of 20 million, pleasing viewers with its light hearted quips provided by Bowen, as well as the interesting array of guests who appeared on the show.

It was like this - three pairs of contestants would compete against each other to win prizes. One member of the pair would be instructed to answer general knowledge questions whilst the other was instructed to throw the arrows. The star prize ranged from being a car ( which would be no use to someone who couldn't drive ), a speedboat, a caravan or a luxury holiday. Though the losing players would leave with a least a set of darts and a bullseye tankard.

Tony Green appeared alongside Bowen as co-host ( who always told the player ''In your own time!'', as they were about to take their throw ). Bowen could irritate somewhat, especially with the use of his catchphrases such as ''Lovely, Smashing!'', or ''Let's see what you could have won!'' ( which he would tactlessly say after the player lost their prize. Nothing like rubbing salt in the wound, is there?''.

Many of the biggest darts players of the time guested on the show such as Jocky Wilson, Eric Bristow, Ray Farrell, Mike Gregory and John Lowe. There were also plenty of celebrity guests on the show too such as Pat Roach, Lionel Blair, Gary Wilmot, Carol Lee Scott and, believe it or not, The Krankies.

Central cancelled the show in 1995 but it was revived in 2006 for Challenge TV, this time with Dave Spikey hosting but it didn't work. The original will always be the best.

Say what you will about the show but I still find it highly enjoyable, even if it is purely just for the nostalgia of the piece. In 1987, 'Naked Video' did an amusing parody of the show, with Tony Roper as Jim Bowen and Gregor Fisher as Tony Green.

Happy Ever After
(1974)

Unhappy Ever After
'Terry & June' is still remembered today respectively by fans of Terry Scott and June Whitfield and by detractors of cosy middle class comedies, yet 'Happy Ever After', the show that started it all, is not remembered at all, despite being hugely popular at the time. Though having watched the entire series for the first time recently, it is with regret that I have to say that the show does not stand up terribly well now.

'Happy Ever After' began in 1974 as a pilot for 'Comedy Playhouse' and featured Terry Scott and June Whitfield as Terry and June Fletcher, who look forward to the prospect of a quiet life after their children have flown the coop. However, this dream is soon dispelled when a doddering elderly relative - June's Aunt Lucy - and her annoying mynah bird Gunga Din is forced to move in with them. Terry Fletcher is a pompous snob who attempts to try new things and impress people, however he is let down by either his own incompetence or the interference of Aunt Lucy. June does her best to maintain her sanity in amongst all of this chaos.

Scott and Whitfield made a strong pairing and made the most they could with the scripts by Eric Merriman, John Chapman, John Kane, Jon Watkins and Christopher Bond. However, the main thing letting the show down for me was Beryl Cooke as the irritating Aunt Lucy. No one in their right mind would put up with a dopey old busybody like that for so long, family or not. Dotty old ladies for me have limited comedy scope. Thankfully, she was gone by the time the superior sequel 'Terry & June' appeared, which saw the characters names being changed from Fletcher to Medford.

Kasumi Ninja
(1994)

''Show no mercy!''
Well, firstly let me start off my review by wishing all IMDb users a happy new year. Although this awful lockdown ( which has affected many lives and businesses, though strangely not affected these treacherous BLM protests ) has been extended by the government ( so much for 'turning the tide in 12 weeks', Boris! ), we can rest in the knowledge that two working vaccines have been deployed. Hopefully, this year will see more of a return to normality, and hopefully ( though unlikely ) this year will see some of the clowns of parliament being shown the door, namely Prime Minister Boris Johnson, secretary Matt Hancock ( the last four letters of his surname suit him down to a tee, don't they? ) and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty ( or as he is known in my house, Chris Witless ).

Anyway, enough of my tangent, onto the review of this game. 'Kasumi Ninja' is one of many attempts to usurp the golden crown of 'Mortal Kombat'. It seemed inevitable that with 'Mortal Kombat' being a huge hit, other game makers were going to try and cash in on its success. 'Killer Instinct', 'Way Of The Warrior', 'Ultra Vortek' and 'Kasumi Ninja' were just four of those attempts by game creators, the latter which is generally regarded by gamers as the worst 'Mortal Kombat' knock off of all time.

Set on an island called Kasumi Island, the game is virtually the same setting as 'Mortal Kombat' with some name changes. The fighters include ninjas Habaki and Senzo, Liu Kang clone Chagi, amazon warrior Thundra, Red Indian chief Pakawa, barbarian Alaric, street fighter Danja and ginger headed Scottish blacksmith Angus McGregor ( who is inexplicably capable of firing out balls of flame at his opponent from under his kilt ). The final boss of the game is possessed demon Lord Gyaku.

Released only on the Atari Jaguar, 'Kasumi Ninja' was heavily criticised for its use of racial stereotypes, such as Angus McGregor ( as a Scotsman myself I have yet to meet a fellow Scot who actually says ''Och aye!'' ). The exaggerated Japanese accent used by the game announcer provoked controversy too and the planned 'Kasumi Ninja II' game never materialised as a result.

Was it really so bad? Not really. Once one got used to the controls, it was perfectly worth playing, though obviously not up to the standard of 'Mortal Kombat'. If nothing else, it gives the player a good laugh.

Sonic the Hedgehog
(1991)

Sega's turning point
In the '80's, 'Alex Kidd' was Sega's long running mascot until the arrival of 'Sonic The Hedgehog' in 1991. The blue coloured hedgehog was everywhere back in the '90's, whether it be in the form of video games, cartoons, drinks, toys and comic books. Love or hate the character, you certainly could not ignore him. In this first game ( later remade for the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear ), Sonic is called upon to apprehend and defeat evil experimental scientist Dr. Robotnik, who is attempting not only to conduct hideous experiments of the animals of South Island but is also on a mission to steal the coveted relics of the island known as 'The Chaos Emeralds'. The game was not dissimilar in style to Nintendo's 'Super Mario Bros' and like that game, made for fun playing and for that reason deserves to be fondly remembered among gamers. In 1992, the superior sequel 'Sonic The Hedgehog 2' appeared.

Streets of Rage 2
(1992)

Mr. X's reign of terror once again arises!
With Sega's 'Streets Of Rage' a hit, a sequel was a guarantee. One year later, 'Streets Of Rage 2' was made. Though adding some new characters and improving the graphics ( as well as devising a highly catchy soundtrack ), the sequel did not have the same impact as the first, possibly due to dropping one of the most popular characters from the original. Nevertheless, 'Streets Of Rage 2' provided another hit for Sega, not just on the Mega Drive, but on the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear as well.

A year after Mr. X was taken down and his crime syndicate destroyed, the evil crime lord rises again, this time more dangerous than ever, to exact revenge on the trio - Adam Hunter, Blaze Fielding and Axel Stone - responsible for his downfall. He duly takes Adam hostage, prompting not just Axel and Blaze, but their friend Max Thunder ( who looked not unlike 'The Incredible Hulk', minus the green pallor ) and Adam's younger brother Eddie 'Skate' Hunter ( called 'Skate' because he never takes his roller skates off ), to hunt Mr. X down and once again put him out of action.

It is a good game, marred only by two things - the absence of Adam ( who was my favourite character to play as ) and the inclusion of Max and Skate. Max was too slow and clunky to be much of a good fighter whilst Skate, although skilled with his speed, lacks the fighting strength. The enemies are much harder to defeat this time around too, though on the plus side, a health bar is included on screen for the enemies so you are able to see your progress in defeating them. Another plus side is that the soundtrack ( as I earlier mentioned ) is much catchier this time around ( not that the soundtrack from the first game wasn't catchy ) and makes up for some of the game's minor shortcomings.

Something to watch out for - the arcade machines in the nightclub level bare the title 'Bare Knuckle'. This was the title of the original Japanese release of the game.

A year after this, 'Streets Of Rage 3' followed which alas would be the franchise's final jaunt with Sega.

Lucky Feller
(1975)

''I'm a lucky, lucky feller!''
David Jason's first vehicle ( broadcast by London Weekend Television ) 'The Top Secret Life Of Edgar Briggs' failed to make much of an impression on the viewing public. However, the show's producer Humphrey Barclay believed yet Jason had potential to carry his own show. 'There's A Girl In My Soup' author Terence Frisby constructed this show 'Lucky Feller' especially for him.

A pilot was filmed in 1975 but was shelved. However in 1976, it finally made it to the screen as a thirteen part series. Spineless mummy's boy Bernard Mempstead ( otherwise known as Shorty ), still lives at home with his brassy mother Mrs. Mempstead and his philandering brother Randolph ( nicknamed Randy for reasons none too obscure ). One day, Shorty meets on a train an attractive young lady by the name of Kathleen Peake ( future 'Citizen Smith' actress Cheryl Hall ) and is immediately and hopelessly infatuated with her. However, she is fatally attracted to his brother Randy, who seems to charm every girl he meets.

In order to be near Randy, Kath agrees to go out with Shorty, leading to a series of romantic disasters, though Shorty is generally too dumb to notice! Towards the end of the run, Kath thinks she is pregnant and in desperation agrees to wed Shorty, however when it turns out to be a false alarm, she jilts him at the altar.

'Lucky Feller', like 'Edgar Briggs', failed to find an audience, which is a shame as it was an entertaining vehicle for Jason. A second series was planned however Terence Frisby felt he had exhausted any further comedic possibilities and alas it didn't happen. Pat Heywood ( who replaced Elizabeth Spriggs from the pilot ) was funny as the mum, especially when she tried to convince Kath to marry both Shorty and Randy ( ''You would get both wage packets and you would be taking both of them off my hands!'' ). Nicky Henson played Randy in the pilot but was replaced in the series by Peter Armitage. A wise move. Peter was a better actor, as well as being better looking.

Also making the occasional appearances were Glynn Edwards and Maggie Jones as Kath's common parents. Josephine Tewson and Prunella Scales also made some memorable appearances in a couple of episodes.

Whilst not a wonderful show, 'Lucky Feller' can now be seen as an interesting forerunner to Jason's later 'Only Fools & Horses', only here it is Jason playing the Rodney-esque character. A year after 'Lucky Feller' ended, Jason landed a more successful vehicle on ATV with 'A Sharp Intake Of Breath'.

The Baldy Man: Bath: Referee
(1995)
Episode 5, Season 1

Bathtime For Baldy!
Try to picture this - a hostess trolley loaded with nibbles such as crisps, nuts, chipolatas, sausage rolls etc, as well as a bottle of wine. If you were to think that Baldy was hosting some sort of soiree, you would be wrong. The laid on banquet in question is in fact for Baldy himself, who is looking forward to luxuriating in the bath.

Just as he climbs in the tub, the doorbell goes. Baldy answers it to find a delivery man requesting to leave a delivery with him for his neighbour, as they are out at a fancy dress party. As Baldy settles once again in the tub ( this time sporting a face pack ), he is disturbed yet again, this time by his neighbour ( who is dressed up as a devil ). On catching sight of each other as Baldy answers the door, the two flee from each other, terrified!

'Bath' is a classic from the first series of 'The Baldy Man'. How many of us have tried to enjoy a bath, only to be interrupted by someone at the door or the phone ringing? Gregor yet again proves to be a master at expression, particularly in those scenes in which he constantly tries to stop the incessant gurgling from the temperamental shower head. Andy Gray yet again puts in a first rate performance as the neighbour. His screams of horror upon mistaking Baldy for an intruder are a real hoot too! Great episode with only one real flaw, every time I watch it, it makes me feel hungry!

Funniest moment - dropping a sausage in the bath, Baldy tries to spear it by thrusting a cocktail stick in the water. Unfortunately, he ends up skewering something else entirely, much to his distress!

In 'Referee', an charity football match is taking place at a local field. The players are an unfit bunch. Some are even seen smoking whilst they are warming up. Baldy, dressed in a hideously old fashioned football referee outfit, tries to take charge of this bunch, however a younger, fitter, better looking man ( Andy Gray ) has already been appointed to the position. However, when he is knocked out accidentally by someone flying a remote control spitfire, Baldy then takes charge, and things go from bad to worse.

'Referee' was a bit of a let down to be honest, partly because of my lack of interest in football, Very little seems to happen and there are not nearly enough laughs as to be expected. Still, every comedy show throws up a runt now and again don't they?

Ron Bain ( who appeared in the first two series of 'Naked Video' with Gregor ) and Andrew Fairlie ( who played Gash in 'Rab C. Nesbitt' ) makes appearances as a couple of the football players.

Funniest moment - Baldy getting hit in the face with a huge clot of mud!

Bless Me Father
(1978)

God help us!
After giving up his army surplus when 'Dad's Army' ended on the BBC, Arthur Lowe went over to ITV to don priest robes for 'Bless Me Father', scripted by Peter De Rosa.

Set in the 1950's, it was yet another run of the mill ecclesiastical offering, lining alongside the likes of 'All Gas & Gaiters', 'Our Man At St Marks' and 'Oh Brother!' ( which was then followed by 'Oh Father!'' ). Lowe played Father Charles Duddleswell, a grumpy Irish Catholic priest who takes under his wing young novice priest Father Neil Boyd ( Daniel Abineri ), for whom his service in the pulpit is not easy.

Duddleswell also makes life difficult for his live-in housekeeper Mrs. Pring ( Gabrielle Daye ), who seems to let his brusque manner brush over her head.

'Bless Me Father' was popular enough to run on London Weekend Television for three series. I was not keen on it myself. Religious comedies are not really my thing ( with the exception of 'Father Ted' ). Still, it was miles better than the dire 'A.J. Wentworth, B.A', which Lowe had the misfortune to have cemented as his final sitcom due to his death in 1982.

Billy Liar
(1973)

''Billy Billy, don't be so silly!''
Keith Waterhouse created the character of Billy Fisher in 1959 when he wrote the novel 'Billy Liar'. In the early '60's it was adapted both into a stage play and then a film before in 1973 becoming a television sitcom which Keith Waterhouse himself wrote in collaboration with Willis Hall, screened by LWT.

I could not take to the character at all unfortunately, which is a shame as I really did for many years want to. Billy is a Walter Mitty style fantasist whose life is far from what he wishes it to be. He is stuck in a dead end job in a funeral parlour ( no pun intended by the way ) where is boss is the glum Mr. Shadrack ( Colin Jeavons ), still lives at home with his overbearing parents ( Pamela Vazey and George A. Cooper ) and his senile grandmother ( May Warden ) and is in a rocky relationship with his over-emotional girlfriend Barbara ( the lovely Sally Watts ), who always seemed to stick by him even when it was evident he was cheating on her! Because of all this, he lives in a world of pure fantasy which causes him to dig himself out of self-dug holes.

It was a one joke show, and one that was tedious and annoying. Jeff Rawie would later be seen to better comic effect in the '90's when he became George Dent in 'Drop The Dead Donkey'. May Warden got on my nerves as the grandma ( mainly because half the time I could not make out a word she was saying ). Sally Watts ( sister of the late Gwendolyn Watts, who appeared in the 'Billy Liar' movie ) did her best with a role that gave her nothing to do but be a doormat.

'Billy Liar' is fondly remembered, sadly just not by me.

The Baldy Man: Tearoom: Pets
(1995)
Episode 4, Season 1

''Hello Baldy!''
This episode of 'The Baldy Man' is a unique one in the series as it is the only episode that is not divided into two stories, despite being incorrectly labelled as so. 'Tearoom' is in fact a five minute sketch shown as a prior to the opening credits in which we see Baldy in a cafe displaying his less than acceptable table manners, much to the disgust of two nosey old women at the next table ( Baldy wears the same hideous suit he wore in 'New Look' in this sketch. One is tempted to speculate that this scene could originally have been a scene from that episode ).

After the sketch, we are then onto 'Pets'. Baldy is trying to find himself a new hobby and so settles on trying his hand at keeping pets. His first choice is a hideous lap dog who he trains to try and chew up his neighbour's gardening shoes ( as revenge for him tormenting Baldy with his vicious Alsatian ) but the dog ends up chewing of all of Baldy's shoes instead. He then tries keeping a mynah bird, which at first he is content with until the bird starts greeting him with ''Hello Baldy!'', as well as constantly pooping on his head. His third choice of pet is a boa constrictor which he hopes to use to scare his neighbour but it ends up attempting to strangle Baldy. He finally is successful with his final choice of a small kitten however it creates more trouble between him and his neighbour when the cat falls in love with next door's Alsatian!

'Pets' is not classic 'Baldy Man' but is does still have its moments and is appreciated best by owners of unruly pets. The brats from next door appear again, yet again playing nasty pranks on poor Baldy. They were neither funny nor interesting and thankfully did not return by the time the show returned for its second series. The snake looked about as realistic as Shep the canary in the 'Rab C. Nesbitt' episode 'That's Entertainment'.

Thankfully, Baldy's neighbour gets his comeuppance when he finds a group of rabbits chewing their merry way through his cabbage patch. Serves the git right!

Funniest moment - Baldy glancing through various magazines in a newsagent in order to find himself a new hobby, and picturing in his mind the painful downsides to each one!

Down the 'Gate: Episode #1.5
(1975)
Episode 5, Season 1

Driven to distraction!
Reg is having trouble with his Jaguar car. Unfortunately, he cannot afford either to buy a new one or have repair work carried our on it. An idea comes to him, raffle it down the market. The unlucky winner is Big Alf, an ex-boxer who is none to happy with Reg when he realises he has acquired a dud.

Reg then does a swap with a fellow workmate who is wanting to get rid of his Mini but it turns out to be in worse nick than Reg's Jaguar!

This script is a little light on laughs truth to be told, much like the 'On The Buses' episode 'The Squeeze' ( in which Arthur tries to sell his motorbike ), which this episode bears a strong resemblance to. Despite the poor reception the show met with, a second series was commissioned the following year, with Percy Herbert's Mr. Preston replacing Kevin Brennan's Mr. Davies. Sadly, this series fared no better than the first and consequently, it did not return for a third run. Norman Mitchell, who played Nobby in 'On The Buses', plays Big Alf.

Funniest moment - Reg driving off in his newly acquired Mini, unaware that the exhaust pipe is trailing off the ground!

Down the 'Gate: Episode #1.4
(1975)
Episode 4, Season 1

Let there not be light!
Reg and Irene are constantly kept awake at night by a flickering street lamp outside their bedroom window. Reg has been in touch several times with the council to rectify the problem but they keep delaying the matter.

Acting on advice given to him by Len and Wol ( does he never learn? ), Reg refuses to pay his rates unless the council fix the lamp. It all turns into a nightmare when he receives a summons to court for refusal to pay the rates!

The script for this episode makes mostly for enjoyable reading, especially at the moment where Reg is said to have been throwing books out of the window at the lamp. However, when the comedy moves to the courtroom, that is when interest starts to wane.

Funniest moment - Reg climbing a ladder, hammer in hand, to the top the street lamp to smash it, however the rungs break under his weight and he goes plummeting to the ground!

The Baldy Man: D.I.Y.: Class Reunion
(1995)
Episode 3, Season 1

Back to school
'D. I. Y' begins with Baldy enlisting the help of his gormless friend to help him decorate the spare room in his house. Things go awry immediately. Paint gets spilt everywhere, Baldy ends up sanding a huge hole in the door and destroys a hashily built bookshelf that looks as though it were built by a blind man...

The sitcom cliche strikes again here but 'The Baldy Man' yet again takes it to another level and yet again Gregor excels with his natural gift for physical comedy. Andy Gray likewise ( who in his own right is a comedy legend ) is hilarious as Baldy's friend.

Funniest moment - Baldy attempting to glue a missing piece onto the bookshelf he is erecting however in some strange turn of events he ends up gluing it to his head!

Second funniest moment - Baldy getting himself stuck to the door!

'Reunion' sees Baldy in attendance at a school gathering however he is made to feel about as welcome as Donald Trump at an election. It all gets out of hand however when Baldy makes a pass at an attractive woman who happens to be the wife of the head bully of the school, who has a score to settle with Baldy!

While not as good as 'D. I. Y', 'Reunion' still has its fair share of funny moments, especially with Baldy's flashbacks to his schooldays. Andy Gray is yet again wonderful as the school bully. His comeuppance when it arrives is sweet - during a scuffle with Baldy, his wig comes off, revealing he is more bald than Baldy!

Funniest moment - Baldy and the bully's grappling somehow transforming into a ballroom style dance!

Classic stuff which in my mind ranks as the second funniest episode of 'The Baldy Man'.

The Baldy Man: Keep Fit: Ill
(1995)
Episode 2, Season 1

A healthy body makes a healthy mind!
'Keep Fit' starts off with Baldy attending a fitness centre in order to get himself into shape. Wearing a hideous purple leotard, he stands out like a sore thumb and immediately makes himself a target of ridicule to a group of posers ( played respectively by Andy Gray, Sally Howitt, Sam Ellis and Louise Beattie ).

Various dirty pranks come into play between Baldy and the ringleader of the posers ( Gray ). Things get really heated however ( pardon the pun ) when Baldy challenges him to sit with him in the sauna to see who will crack first under the stifling heat...

Keeping fit has been a sitcom cliche for as long as I remember however this episode of 'The Baldy Man' takes it entirely to new levels. In his gym rig out, Baldy looks ( as one would expect ) a right ninny. Nonetheless, you can't help but feel sorry for him when the other customers pick on him. Both Andy Gray and Sally Howitt would later appear in the show as Baldy's pompous neighbours.

Funniest moment - Baldy and the ringleader being stuck in the sauna for so long that their bodies have shrunk down to that of the size of a small child!

The second half of this episode - 'Ill'- begins with Baldy receiving in the post a medical encyclopedia. His initial interest in the book soon turns to horror when the more he glances through it, the more he thinks he has the symptoms listed in the book. Trying to take his mind of this, he places a damp chequered flannel over his face and takes a short nap on the sofa. However, the pattern from the cloth rubs off onto his face and, noticing this in the mirror when he awakens, he thinks he has come down with a serious illness and so enlists the help of his mother to come and look after him.

'Ill' is hilarious from beginning to end, helped along greatly by Gregor's gift for physical comedy. This episode saw the first appearance of Baldy's mother, who was played by Gregor Fisher in drag. The moment you see the character alighting from a taxi ( varicose veins and all ), you know what to expect. Baldy's mother was a hilarious character. Her next appearance on the show would be in the series two episode 'Mother's Day' ( which was my favourite episode ). Andy Gray and Sally Howitt also make their first appearances here as Baldy's neighbours.

Funniest moment - Baldy's mother making a phone call to the local doctor. With no dialogue, I'm sure you can imagine how it would sound!

Second funniest moment - an elderly man carrying a scythe walking down the street ends up being covered in a black cape that has blown out of a broken down hearse. Baldy faints upon catching sight of him as he thinks he is the grim reaper!

I Didn't Know You Cared
(1975)

I don't!
Peter Tiniswood's 1975 sitcom 'I Didn't Know You Cared' was a television adaption of his novel of the same name - the other novels being 'A Touch Of Daniel', 'Except You're A Bird' and 'Stirk Of Stirk'.

It focused on the trials and tribulations of the dour Yorkshire family, The Brandons. Glum flat-capped Uncle Mort ( played by Robin Bailey ) is the head of this dysfunctional family whose mundane life is filled with nothing but dread. The rest of the Brandon clan include pipe smoking Les ( John Comer ) who is married to the frightful Annie ( the underrated and much missed Liz Smith ), gormless idiot Carter ( Stephen Rea, then Keith Drinkel ) who is engaged ( albeit reluctantly ) to the social climbing Pat ( Anita Carey first, then Liz Goulding ), who when not trying to steer Brandon down the aisle is trying to steer him away from the leering eyes of local blonde sex-pot Linda Preston ( Deidre Costrello ) and irritating Uncle Stavely ( Bert Palmer, then Leslie Sarony ), whose less than hilarious catchphrase was ''I heard that! Pardon?''.

I had for many years wanted very much to like this show but I just found it unbearably depressing to watch. I realise, before anyone remarks, that the grimness of the whole thing was intentional but it sadly just did not cut the ice with me, which was a great shame given the talent involved.

Only When I Laugh
(1979)

''Do you want to see something really horrible?''
Not long after 'Rising Damp' ended on ITV in 1979, Eric Chappell followed it up with 'Only When I Laugh', a hospital based sitcom which did for the NHS what 'The New Statesman' did for Westminster.

Naive young mummy's boy Norman Binns is admitted to hospital to find himself sharing a ward with Roy Figgis, a wily long distance lorry driver with a sharp tongue and Archie Glover, a rich hypochondriac to whom hospital is a second home. Both Figgis and Glover soon show Binns the art of hospital survival and sometimes the trio join forces to make life difficult for the starchy consultant surgeon Gordon Thorpe and Indian staff nurse Gupte.

It was almost like 'Porridge' set in a hospital, with James Bolam's Figgis and Peter Bowles' Glover combining together to make one Fletcher and Norman Binns being the Lennie Godber equivalent. Even Richard Wilson's Thorpe had a hint of prison officer MacKay about him. However, whilst nowhere near as funny as Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais' show, 'Only When I Laugh' nonetheless had some fine moments, especially from Bolam, whose Figgis also wasn't far removed from Terry Collier from 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?'. Derrick Branche left after series three so his character Gupte vanished without explanation. Peter Bowles later did another show scripted by Eric Chappell - 'The Bounder' - in which he was a charming confidence trickster.

Not a wonderful show by any means ( and the theme tune I'm afraid is depressing beyond words! ) but for the most part very funny and vastly superior to anything Bolam did afterwards.

Down the 'Gate: Episode #1.3
(1975)
Episode 3, Season 1

Food Glorious Food
Irene becomes worried that she is putting on weight and so goes on a crash diet. Reg is less than thrilled at this turn of events as it means he will be going on a diet too.

As he expects he gets a right ribbing from his workmates, in particular Len Peacock and Old Wol, who gluttonously wire into huge fry-ups in front of him whilst he munches on a measly lunch of lettuce and cheese.

However, as one would anticipate, Irene cannot stick the diet and so gives in to temptation. Reg is understandably vexed...

The third 'Down The 'Gate' script has some good laughs in it despite the whole 'losing weight' theme being somewhat cliched. It had been done twice in 'On The Buses' with the episodes 'Bus Driver's Stomach' ( in which Stan is overcome with stomach cramps due to his unhealthy diet ) and 'Dangerous Living' ( in which Stan tries to shed weight at his family's insistence ).Pam Valentine and Michael Ashton's 'That's My Boy' ( which starred Mollie Sugden ) also did a variation on the theme with the episode 'Think Thin'. Having not seen this physical episode I am unable to make comparisons between the episodes. It would have been funny to see Reg's attempts to stick to the diet.

Funniest moment - Reg, like a tortured soul, overhearing Mr. Davies talking to a customer about the scrumptious sounding meal he is to have for his dinner! Poor Reg's saliva glands go immediately into action!

Down the 'Gate: Episode #1.2
(1975)
Episode 2, Season 1

The Frozen Limit
The second episode of 'Down The 'Gate' starts with Reg returning home from the market sweating buckets due to the hot weather. He looks forward to a nice cold beer but is disappointed to find Irene is defrosting the fridge. He is also further annoyed to find his mother-in-law ( whom he cannot stand ) is to be accompanying himself and Irene on their impending holiday.

At the market, Len and Reg become caught up in a silly argument about who could spend the longest amount of time in the market cold store. Old Wol and Bert, who works down in the cold store, then suggest the two rise to the challenge.

The two accept the challenge and so endeavour to sit it out in the cold store, however the faulty lock jams the door shut, leaving the two trapped inside...

It is a great pity that this episode has been wiped as it would have been hilarious to see the aftermath of Reg being trapped in a freezer, however if one can use their imagination whilst reading the script for this episode, there are yet again plenty of laughs to be had. Future Arthur Fowler of 'Eastenders' Bill Treacher plays Bert.

Funniest moment - acting on advice given to him by Bert, Reg puts on a pair of Irene's tights to keep him warm whilst in the cold store. Catching him trying on this garment, Irene asks: ''Would you like my handbag as well?''.

Down the 'Gate: Episode #1.1
(1975)
Episode 1, Season 1

Reg gets all hot and bothered!
I have unfortunately not seen this episode 'Down The 'Gate', an underrated ATV sitcom starring the late Reg Varney as Billingsgate fish porter Reg Furnell, as the first series has been wiped from the archives in its entirety. Fortunately, all the scripts are available to read on the DVD release of the show, so I am constructing a review based on my opinion of the script alone.

The episode starts of with Reg's world falling apart around his ears. There's no hot water on the tap, the toaster burns the bread and to make matters worse his wife Irene ( the late Dilys Laye ) starts nagging him to have central heating installed. Reg is reluctant however Irene is insistent, so much so that she uses their holiday money as a deposit.

However, at the market, Reg's mates Len Peacock ( Tony Melody ) and Old Wol ( Reg Lye ) give him a tip on a nag called 'Anvil Chorus'. Unable to resist, Reg squanders the money on the horse but it comes in second, so now Reg has to break this terrible news to Irene.

Luck comes Reg's way however when the winner of the race is disqualified due to a steward's inquiry, meaning Reg is quids in.

This could easily have been an 'On The Buses' script. Both Stan Butler and Reg Furnell are suckers for a gamble, both are victim to circumstance, and both end up down holes which they inadvertently dig themselves. Nonetheless, if the script is anything to go by, this is a good opener and it is such a shame that the show never found the audience it deserved. Reg's boss here is Mr. Davies, played by Kevin Brennan ( who appeared alongside Varney as Mr. Jenkins in 'Mutiny On The Buses' ), Davies seems alot more laid back than his successor, Mr. Preston ( played excellently by Percy Herbert ), who would replace him in series two.

Funniest moment - in the middle of the night, Reg hears a commotion in the kitchen. Darting downstairs, he is horrified to find a group of stray cats ( who have crawled in through the open kitchen window ) are gleefully devouring a pair of salmon Reg has brought home from his work!

Sykes
(1972)

Eric & Hattie In Colour
Seven years after 'Sykes & A' ended, Eric and Hattie returned on the BBC, this time in colour, though they were living at 28 Sebastapol Terrace rather than 24 and the titled of the show was shortened simply to 'Sykes'.

Things were still more or less the same though, they still lived next door to the annoying Charles Fulbright Brown and Eric was still the usual walking disaster area he was before and Hattie ( who was often referred to as either 'Hat' or 'Harriet' ) was as usual the one left to pick up the pieces, which usually caused her to cry with and exasperated: ''Oh Eric!''. The incompetent Corky Turnbull ( played once again by Deryck Guyler ) appeared once again eating Eric and Hat out of house and home. Joan Sims appeared from time to time as Madge, the lady from the bread shop who fancied Eric ( or 'Ricky' as she for some bizzare reason called him ) and always kept him supplied with doughnuts.

A new running gag in the series included both Eric and Hattie talking to the cuckoo clock on their wall, which they named Peter.

Most of the episodes were remakes in colour of some of the original episodes, such as 'Sykes & A Bus' ( which was originally titled 'Sykes & A Following' and had Eric and Hat working as a bus crew ) 'Sykes & A Bath' ( which saw Eric getting stuck in a bath ) and, the best of all, 'Sykes & A Stranger' ( which saw an old friend of Eric and Hattie's from their childhood return and honour his promise of marriage to Hattie. In the original he was played by Leo McKern however was played here by Peter Sellers ).

Charles Fulbright Brown was written out after the third series when Richard Wattis, who played him, died of a heart attack. The show ran on the BBC until the end of the 70's but in its final year the show was starting to look tired and flat. The final episode, 'The BBC Honours Sykes', was particularly awful, especially as it ruined every illusion that the show was not a sitcom.

Hattie Jacques sadly passed away in 1980, aged just 58. The BBC tried to convince Eric to continue the show without Hattie but he wisely chose not to. However, he unwisely crossed over to Thames Television to front the less than hilarious 'The Likes Of Sykes', things then started to go downhill for poor Eric.

'Sykes', like its predecessor, while never a classic, was good, gentle fun and for that reason alone it deserves to be fondly remembered

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