Croft and Perry: The Sitcoms Omnibus


Croft and Perry: The Sitcoms

David Croft and Jimmy Perry, one of TV's most successful comedy writing duos, talk about their lives, their work and what makes them laugh.


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Transcript


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# Meet the gang cos the boys are here

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# The boys to entertain you

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# With music and laughter to help you on your way

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# To raising the rafters with a hey, hey, hey

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# With songs, and sketches, and jokes old and new

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# With us about you won't feel blue

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# So, meet the gang cos the boys are here

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# The boys to entertain you. #

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Don't forget to be early for dinner

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as Fred Larkin, our cordon BLEW cook, is in an Italian mood.

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And he's conjured up for you spaghetti bolognaise and chips.

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I think what Jimmy and David do,

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is bring extraordinarily opposing views of comedy and blend it together perfectly.

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Each contributes his gift, but it's seamless you can't see who does what.

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Oh dear! How sad! Never mind!

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You've got two people, an extrovert and an introvert.

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When their pens cross, there's a spark.

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-OPERATOR: Number, please?

-Walmington-on-Sea...

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-I've forgotten the number.

-You stupid boy!

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It's Walmington-on-Sea... Just a moment.

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In 1968, actor Jimmy Perry approached BBC comedy producer David Croft

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with an idea for a sitcom about the Home Guard.

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# Mr Brown goes off to town on the 8.21... #

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I took it to Michael Mills who was a wonderful head of department.

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When you took anything to him, he immediately saw the potential the sky was the limit.

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He liked it and thought it would go,

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and said, "Jimmy's not written much for TV, why don't you collaborate?"

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# ..But he comes home each evening and he's ready with his gun... #

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So began one of TV's most successful writing partnerships,

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made unique by Croft also producing and directing the shows.

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AIR RAID WARNING

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Thank you, Mr Wilson. There please.

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That's a reasonable field of fire. It covers most of the High Street.

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Yes, we can happily say that Jerry parachutists will be dead as mutton,

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from Stead and Simpson's to Timothy Whites.

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We'd be clear to the Pavilion if that woman would move.

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We wrote this show together, David and I, and it became a huge success.

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I always thought it was a good idea, but it totally overwhelmed me.

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And I think the secret was that everything was right.

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One of those rare things the cast, the time and the subject were right.

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NEWSREEL: When Hitler is up against the British, it's a different story.

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They fight all the way, giving as good as they get.

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With the pilot, the BBC hierarchy were very worried. They thought we were mocking England's finest hour.

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'We all have a part to play. Every effort is made to confuse the enemy.'

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'Fortunately Michael Mills and people in the business said,

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'"It's a great idea, go ahead."

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Jim wrote the signature tunes. He has a super, naive way of doing something right for the period.

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I was more complicated and correct and not so good, so he did it.

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And we arranged for Bud Flanagan to record it.

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And we came down to the Riverside Studios, I opened the door,

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and I heard for the very first time,

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# Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?

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# If you think we're on the run... #

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I had a shiver up my spine to think that as a kid, I'd go to The Palladium to see Flanagan and Allen,

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'and I had written a song that my great hero, Bud Flanagan, was now singing.'

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And when he'd finished, he said, "Well, goodbye." He shook hands and he walked down the long corridor.

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That was the last I saw of him. Weeks later he died.

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# If you think old England's done. #

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I'd been an air-raid warden at the age of 17 at the start of the war.

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Look...

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-What is it, warden?

-You gonna be long?

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I don't know. I've got something to say to the men. I don't...

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Nothing like Hodges, no.

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-Hodges, help Pike carry me.

-I will not. I'm keeping out of it.

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-I'm ordering you to carry me.

-Shoot him, Mr Mainwaring, go on!

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I was in the Home Guard at 15.

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-Uncle Arthur?

-What is it, Frank?

-Have you seen Mr Snugley?

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Mr who?

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-Mr Snugley, my teddy.

-No, I haven't.

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Jimmy came over and said, "You do know you're playing me, don't you?"

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-Mum said she'd put him in.

-I haven't got him.

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He was a young runner and had much in common with Pike.

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-Pike, take off your tunic.

-Why me?

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Because you're wet already.

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Hang on! We're underground. If that keeps pouring in, we'll all drown. Supposing we can't stop it!

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There's no such word as can't! Get in there, boy, wrap it round.

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-Go on, son! Keep it up!

-If there's encouraging to be done, I'll do it.

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The glory of Croft and Perry's work, is that it's always ensemble.

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There's a glorious collection of characters.

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They scarcely need a line to establish themselves. Laurie only has to say...

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He's doomed, doomed!

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..and we know what will come. One raise of an eyebrow from Walker, and we know...

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Any time you need something, tip me the wink.

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A hand from Godfrey he wants a pee.

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-Do you think I might... >

-If you want to be excused, it's impossible.

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I was 10 when I saw Dad's Army and I liked Clive Dunn.

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'When I was 15 or 16, I was with an old soldier.'

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He'd fought in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.

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He said, "I was a lance corporal in the Rifle Brigade." He described the battle.

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Fuzzy-wuzzies they were the boys. At you with a knife and zip you open!

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"Tell you what," he said. "Get the cold steel, they don't like it up 'em!"

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-They don't like it up 'em, you see, sir. They don't...

-Get him a chair.

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'It was an expression I didn't want to use.'

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I felt an audience might be offended by "They don't like it up 'em."

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But they loved it! They love anything rude, God bless 'em!

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Everyone at school was going, "Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!" I watched and there he was.

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Don't panic!

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Don't panic! We're in France!

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Don't panic! Don't panic! Don't panic!

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When I write a series, I think what catchphrases will get the kids.

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Permission to speak, sir.

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And that's sort of from a vague memory of things like Dad's Army

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"Don't panic!", "Permission to speak, sir", "Uncle Arthur", "Stupid boy."

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You stupid boy!

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I bet he didn't say "stupid boy" as often as we think.

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The cutaways to that dry, dry Arthur Lowe were a catchphrase in itself.

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An essential part of their technique is the casting of each character

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with an actor so ideal you can't imagine anyone else.

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Ssssh!

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Damn revolving doors!

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Arthur Lowe was a wonderful man

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but there's no doubt he had a degree of the same pomposity Mainwaring had.

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-Mr Mainwaring.

-Yes.

-Come over here. Look.

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-Look at this it's full of chocolate.

-That's a lucky stroke.

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-What are you doing?

-I'm going to break the glass to get them out.

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-Break the glass?!

-Yes.

-Have you lost your senses?

-No.

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We're not savages, you know!

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We're well-trained British army and sportsmen!

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We're not Nazis! That's what they'd do.

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Arthur was very like Mainwaring. We wrote them more and more towards their own personalities

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it wasn't them bringing themselves to the characters.

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When you have the actors you can adapt a scene to how they speak, act and react.

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I didn't give you permission to sit, did I?

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-Terribly sorry.

-You are a soldier, you know!

-Of course. Yes.

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-I am an officer.

-Quite.

-You're supposed to be an NCO.

-Of course.

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Very well...

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"Cool" is celebrated in US comedy.

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If you look at Happy Days, which is a great show, a good sitcom,

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the funniest character is the coolest character.

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He checks the mirror and it's fine there's nothing to add.

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If you look at Mainwaring or Fawlty or Frank Spencer or Steptoe and Son,

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these are characters who look in the mirror and there's everything to add.

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-I shouldn't have trusted that smarmy Captain Stewart!

-He's got a job to do.

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You stick up for him you went to public school.

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I can't help feeling you've got a chip on your shoulder about that.

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I tell you what is on my shoulder three pips and don't you forget it!

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I never liked Arthur Lowe in it he was grumpy and Wilson was boring.

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And now they make the show for me, that whole relationship between them.

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"Line the men up, Wilson!" "Yes, sir. Gentlemen, if you'd be so kind..."

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Good evening to you all. How awfully nice...

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Never mind that!

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My favourite character was Sergeant Wilson. I loved the old English gent,

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but he had such a hint of rebellion.

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Counter-agents, as you probably...

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Wilson.

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Wilson. What are you doing?

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I thought as it was such a beautiful day, while you were chatting over there,

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I'd take advantage of this glorious sun and try and get a bit of a tan.

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Mum said he was peaky.

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It was never known whether John Le Mesurier was sleeping with Mrs Pike.

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We never knew, you know.

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It was just that he used to go for a coffee. She'd say, "What time will you be in for cocoa tonight, Arthur?"

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No mention of anything else people just imagined.

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Will you be round later for your usual? Maybe.

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We inferred that Pike was Wilson's illegitimate son, and as far as I'm concerned, he was.

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-It's bedtime.

-I can't come, I'm blowing up a tank.

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You'll have to blow it up tomorrow!

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Arthur! I'm surprised! You know when he goes to bed.

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In this conservative seaside town,

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the chief clerk at the bank a prominent member of the community lives unmarried with a woman.

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I don't think it's innocent it's dealt with with wonderful simplicity,

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'and a wonderful sense of that's how life is.'

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Mavis, what a surprise. Isn't it?

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Yes, I, I... Here we are, G & T. And don't get all Nellie Dean like last week.

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Excuse me, mate. Oh, cor blimey!

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One of the cleverest strokes was Elizabeth Mainwaring's wife

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who we saw once as a bulge in the top bunk.

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Arthur was in the lower bunk at the air-raid shelter and this great big bottom was above. Wonderful!

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Are you awake, Elizabeth?

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She was as great an unseen enemy as the Nazi hordes.

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Everyone knows he had an awful home life. It was brilliant non-writing.

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Elizabeth will be delighted when I take that home.

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I wonder where on earth the woman... Hello, Elizabeth?

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On the phone to this dreadful wife, you felt so sorry for this man.

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I, er...

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I might have a little surprise for you tonight.

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No, no, I've bought...

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The important thing with any sitcom is reality you believe in the characters and the situation is real.

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-­ We're going to lift the bomb off you.

-Shouldn't you wait for Capt Rogers?

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­ No, he's back at HQ there's no time to lose.

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It's worth a try.

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-Here's your coffee, Mr Mainwaring.

-Thank you.

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It's the wrong one, Godfrey.

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I think the other one's wrong too, then.

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Ah.

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The sense that universal things happen beyond this level of ordinary life makes outstanding comedy.

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GERMAN ACCENT: How dare you compare our glorious leader vith zat non-Aryan clown?

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I am making notes, Captain.

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And your name...vill go on ze list.

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And when we win ze war, you vill be brought to account.

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-You're not going to win this war.

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-Oh yes, we are.

-Oh, no you're not.

-Oh yes, we are!

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Pike comes out with this line, # Whistle while you work

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-#

-Hitler is a twerp he's half barmy

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# So's his army, whistle while you work. #

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The officer says, "Vot's your name?" and Mainwaring goes,

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-Don't tell him, Pike.

-Pike!

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It's like Alan Ayckbourn. Croft and Perry's Dad's Army is as great as any light comedy written for theatre.

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I would go so far as to compare Dad's Army with the work of Dickens or Shakespeare.

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One thinks of the rich cast of comic characters in Dickens' novels.

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In a way it's seen as a cosy view of England in the war,

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but the setting isn't important it's a gang show.

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# Meet the gang cos the boys are here

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# The boys to entertain you

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# With music and laughter to help you on your way

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# To raising the rafters with a hey, hey, hey... #

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The next thing was the army. We both went to India.

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I was in Entertainments and Jimmy ran a Royal Artillary concert party.

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Our signature tune used to be

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# Getting around and going places, getting around to show our faces

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# Getting around we're mental cases, Yes, for getting around

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# From Bangalore to Singapore, From Rangoon to Bombay

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# And if you really liked our show, We'll come again another day. #

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Basically, it was my adventures doing this ridiculous concert party.

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Jimmy ran the concert party for five years the real one and he was a mixture,

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I think, of my character he won't admit it...

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Imagine you're sweating champagne!

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..and the one George Layton did.

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One, two, three, four... # I'm... #

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And that series comes nearer to truth than anything we've done.

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'There was such a place as Deolali, the Indians are right, it's spot on.'

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Oh, my Godfathers! What hot day it is! So dusty and dry!

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Urrgh!

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Michael Bates, who'd played a part like this before, was born in India, was an Indian citizen, as it were.

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His father was district commissioner at Jaintia. He spoke fluent Urdu,

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and I said, "David, we have found our leading part."

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SINGS IN URDU

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Now, sahib, this eye is man's eyes, this eye is woman's eyes,

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and, sahib, their eyes meet.

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And he had a servant of whom they were very fond and still corresponding,

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and he based the character of Ranghi Ram on that servant.

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-I will whiten the stones.

-No, no.

-Yes! It is very infra dig for man like you to do work like this.

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Think of your beautiful hands and let me do the infra digging.

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Where is that damn boy!

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There was an amount of disquiet about Michael Bates being cast.

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When I first heard, I was very upset.

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Oh, everything has gone wrong this morning.

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It is what we British say, "Being one of those days."

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Here's the first good part written for an Asian, and it goes to an English actor.

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I will make him a uniform of such enchantment,

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-he'll be bowled over with ecstasy.

-I want him to be pleased as well.

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I have this chip on my shoulder, but there's no way it could have been played by anybody but Michael Bates.

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He was just wonderful in the part.

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I have a wizard wheeze! Gloria will do the stripping and the teasing.

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I shall do no such thing!

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It is the only way, like this.

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I'm not saying we couldn't play it. I'm not saying we wouldn't get the laughs but we wouldn't get as many.

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I hope Sergeant Major sahib is in good mood.

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GET OUT!

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-Is Sergeant Major sahib in good mood?

-I had not time to find out.

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The British soldier was quite arrogant because we were top dog those days.

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I think that attitude was there and some Indians were very anti-British.

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Look!

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Ah! Bapaty bap!

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British piggies go home!

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You must portray things as they were then, which was 1946.

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It's no good pretending it didn't happen it did. We ruled India for 200 years.

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Never heard such impertinence, sir.

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Here we are defending their country from the Japanese,

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how do they repay us? March by every night shouting, "Quit India." Base ingratitude!

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Quit India?! I should bloody cocoa!

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'Windsor Davies was so sensational.'

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You can see the value of going for lines that make you laugh,

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because that IS what the man would say.

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With respect, sir...

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you should have consulted me before promoting Beaumont to bombardier.

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-What are your objections?

-He is a poof, sir!

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They'd say, "It's not natural! A man poncing about on stage in make-up is not normal. You are not normal!"

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-You is a load of poofs!

-What? ALL:

-Poofs!

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-Louder!

-A load of poofs!

-"We are a bunch of poofs!"

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We are a load of poofs! A load of poofs! A load of poofs!

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It really happened.

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Excuse me, but when do you take salt tablets?

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I've had more salt tablets than you have had hot dinners! I'll show you.

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I'll show you, now.

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'The Sergeant Major was a key piece of casting.'

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We saw quite a few people about that part before we placed him.

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'Windsor really wanted that part.'

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And he did the definitive, and I've seen all the sergeant majors and I think he did the definitive version.

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Stop scratching yourself!

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I can't help it, I've got prickly heat, I'm covered in little bumps.

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As far as I am concerned you is one big little bump!

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This great bully of a man had been set up so beautifully by Windsor. He was just so stunning in that part.

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You is even beginning to look like soldiers.

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He was funny on his own. He didn't need words to make him funny.

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Windsor's character had no artistic feeling at all about the concert party.

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You can rely on me, Sergeant Major.

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The only thing I can rely on you for, Bombardier, is to ponce about.

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He hated these fellas dressing up as women.

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# A pretty girl La-la-la-la-la-la-la

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# Is like a melody La-la-la-la-la-la-la... #

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Because of the complete lack of female soldiers, all those shows had men playing the girls parts.

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# A pretty girl is just like a pretty tune. #

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Really rather good! First class! First class.

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Jimmy said I was like the colonel at Deolali or wherever it was.

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Very like him, so they didn't ask for anything particular,

0:23:520:23:56

except to be devoted to the concert party.

0:23:560:24:00

I can't think putting me in the show will help a lot, sir.

0:24:000:24:05

Ashwood, you have great style.

0:24:050:24:07

You do one of the best James Cagney I've seen. I'd like you to do it.

0:24:070:24:13

I can't. I'd feel a fool. - Do it! That is an order!

0:24:130:24:17

Very well, sir.

0:24:170:24:20

POSH VOICE: You dirty rat.

0:24:200:24:23

You dirty rat, you.

0:24:230:24:26

Jimmy described my character as the silly arse I'd always played.

0:24:260:24:32

"We don't want anything different, just do what you've been doing."

0:24:320:24:37

There's nothing else for it. Things are desperate. We'll have to break into the cocktail snacks.

0:24:370:24:44

Surely not! I'm afraid so.

0:24:440:24:47

There's maraschino cherries, a tin of football wafers and a bottle of gherkins.

0:24:470:24:53

What if someone drops in for drinks?

0:24:530:24:56

There were many like Ashwood. Less, and the war might have ended sooner.

0:24:560:25:02

Parkins, tell the Colonel we're out of petrol

0:25:020:25:06

and we're on the road by... Look out!

0:25:060:25:09

Got it!

0:25:110:25:12

Are you mad?! What did you do that for?

0:25:120:25:15

There was a scorpion on it it was just going to bite you.

0:25:150:25:21

David knew just what he wanted. He didn't mess about, rather like Gerald Thomas doing the Carry On's.

0:25:250:25:32

We'd do six episodes in ten days.

0:25:340:25:37

First it was done in Norfolk.

0:25:370:25:40

We began to realise that vegetation there is mostly conifer,

0:25:400:25:45

which is not good for jungles, so we moved and went to Farnham,

0:25:450:25:49

where most of the vegetation is much better.

0:25:490:25:54

We'd manufacture the jungle by hanging up some string and dangling bits of jungle from the string.

0:25:560:26:04

Don't drop it!

0:26:060:26:08

Help! Help!

0:26:120:26:14

Ooh!

0:26:140:26:15

We were determined... When things are done in the tropics, no-one's grubby.

0:26:150:26:21

People with immaculate tunics and not a drop of sweat.

0:26:210:26:25

There's the jeep, sir.

0:26:250:26:27

Where are they?

0:26:290:26:31

The sweat was important because when you're in the jungle, you're wringing wet.

0:26:310:26:38

Oh, it's a dashed nuisance!

0:26:380:26:41

I'm writing to my wife, but the sweat drips off my face smudging the ink. I'll have to start again.

0:26:410:26:48

Put "PS: I miss you", she'll think it's tears.

0:26:480:26:52

Before going on, some pretty make-up girl sprayed you with glycerine,

0:26:520:26:57

from head to foot practically, and it worked it looked marvellous.

0:26:570:27:02

HEWLETT: It was like a club.

0:27:060:27:09

We met every September and all got together for the 12 weeks.

0:27:090:27:15

It was just lovely.

0:27:150:27:18

We enjoyed working with each other.

0:27:180:27:20

We came to a crisis with It Ain't Half Hot Mum when Michael Bates got cancer.

0:27:200:27:27

And we thought it was possible he would die before the next series,

0:27:290:27:34

and I couldn't bear to do the show with him not there in that same position outside the hut.

0:27:340:27:41

And so we moved it, we moved it to Burma.

0:27:410:27:45

Michael Bates was surviving, so we wrote him into it.

0:27:450:27:49

I just heard Gloria sahib say that we might be going back to Deolali.

0:27:490:27:55

Heavenly joy, I will see my wife again.

0:27:550:27:59

And whoever of my children are around.

0:27:590:28:02

The amazing thing was that towards the end he'd be in great pain,

0:28:020:28:07

and they'd say, "Action!" and the pain would go completely from his face.

0:28:070:28:14

To see the wisps of smoke rising from the cow dung fires.

0:28:140:28:19

Such lovely perfume. It brings tears to my eyes to think of it.

0:28:190:28:25

And at the end it'd come back again.

0:28:250:28:28

And he soldiered on in great pain through that series. I think he died two weeks after we finished.

0:28:280:28:36

It was very sad.

0:28:360:28:38

Berra!

0:28:390:28:40

Sahib?

0:28:410:28:43

-Burn this flag.

-Oh please, Sergeant Major, do not ask me such a thing.

0:28:430:28:48

-BURN THIS FLAG!

-Sahib, I have no matches.

0:28:480:28:54

-Whose side are you on?

-Depends on who I'm talking to at the time, Sergeant Major, sahib.

0:28:560:29:03

It wasn't the best thing that David and I did, but it was the funniest.

0:29:030:29:09

I don't think It Ain't Half Hot Mum was as funny as Dad's Army,

0:29:090:29:15

but it was superb in many ways and it would be terrible

0:29:150:29:19

if somebody is brilliant enough to create a masterpiece and few do

0:29:190:29:25

for that masterpiece then to be used against them.

0:29:250:29:29

Joseph Heller, I think brilliantly, put it wonderfully when he said,

0:29:290:29:34

"People often say to me I haven't since Catch 22 written as good a novel." And I say, "Well, who has?"

0:29:340:29:42

# If you're feeling lonely And getting in a stew... #

0:29:420:29:46

We'd go to the beach and get to this fence and I'd go, "What's in there?"

0:29:460:29:51

"The holiday camp." "Can't we go there?" Dad said, "No!"

0:29:510:29:56

# If you got the blues, I got some news

0:29:560:29:58

# Join in the fun in your blue suede shoes

0:29:580:30:01

# Enjoy the holiday rock The holiday rock

0:30:010:30:03

# The holi-holi-hi-di-hi holiday rock

0:30:030:30:06

# Hi-di-hi-di-hi ho-di-ho-di-ho

0:30:060:30:08

# Go, go, go to the holiday rock. #

0:30:080:30:11

I came back from the war and went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art,

0:30:150:30:20

and in the summer holidays I'd work at Butlins as a Redcoat.

0:30:200:30:25

-Jimmy was Spike.

-He was.

-In holidays from RADA he used to be a Redcoat.

-He did.

0:30:280:30:36

I got £10 a week and cakes.

0:30:370:30:40

We were both associated with Butlins.

0:30:400:30:44

Jimmy was like Hitler the command he had over those campers was astonishing.

0:30:440:30:51

I produced the shows in theatres in several camps

0:30:510:30:55

so we both knew the world of holiday camps well.

0:30:550:31:01

# Tra-la-la-la-la Tra-la-la-la-li

0:31:010:31:04

# All good fun, And jolly good company. Hurray! #

0:31:040:31:09

In the last 15 years, the British character has become sour, spiteful, and coarse,

0:31:090:31:16

and people looking at these shows see a gentler, nicer, decent...

0:31:160:31:21

a better kind of Englishness and they look back with genuine nostalgia.

0:31:210:31:26

Now we come to our well-loved event,

0:31:260:31:29

a Who Can Stuff The Most Spaghetti Down The Trousers Competition.

0:31:290:31:33

Things like Spaghetti Eating and Knobbly Knees Competitions,

0:31:330:31:38

we invented much worse ones after that Whose Bum Is It Anyway?

0:31:380:31:43

We had some outrageous competitions.

0:31:430:31:46

Right, you have three minutes to eat as much cake as you can.

0:31:470:31:52

No cheating.

0:31:520:31:54

Ready, steady...

0:31:550:31:57

CLICK

0:31:570:31:59

I'm sorry there seems to be...

0:32:010:32:03

BANG!

0:32:040:32:05

It's the presence of a Cambridge professor quite out of his element...

0:32:050:32:10

-What is it, Ted?

-It's Olly the Octopus.

0:32:100:32:13

..and a man who knows all the tricks of the trade, Ted Bovis Paul Shane.

0:32:130:32:19

"Get your tentacles off that girl, you naughty octopus!"

0:32:190:32:23

Whereupon, Olly turns and squirts him with black ink.

0:32:230:32:28

He thinks the man in charge is there because he's a gent.

0:32:280:32:33

-Who says, "Get your tentacles off that girl, you naughty octopus!"?

-You'll do a belter!

0:32:330:32:39

Jeffrey and Ted's background are chalk and cheese but played with affection for both classes.

0:32:410:32:48

-Pies, pies, who wants acustardpie?

-Say it louder!

0:32:480:32:53

-Pies, pies, who wants a custard pie?

-I'll have one.

0:32:530:32:57

-I think you ought to have one. Shall I give him a pie?

-Yes!

0:32:570:33:01

The fish out of water was the thing to latch it onto.

0:33:050:33:09

The two absolute talismans of the part

0:33:090:33:12

were that he was a capable man in a position he shouldn't have been in,

0:33:120:33:18

and also that he had absolutely no public ability at all.

0:33:180:33:23

-What do I say?

-After Hi-di-Hi, wait for them to say Ho-di-Ho.

0:33:230:33:27

He went on and just SAID, "Hi-di-Hi."

0:33:270:33:31

Hello, campers, Hi-di-Hi.

0:33:320:33:35

Ho-di-Ho.

0:33:350:33:37

No-one says "Ho-di-Ho" to that they maybe want a drink or a sleeping pill.

0:33:370:33:43

Jeffrey can't hear you Hi-di-Hi.

0:33:430:33:45

Ho-di-Ho.

0:33:450:33:47

That was essential.

0:33:470:33:50

The complete inadequacy of his character,

0:33:500:33:53

and also his embarrassment about what was going on around him.

0:33:530:33:58

Stop it, you naughty octopus.

0:33:580:34:00

Simon Cadell was very inventive, which was always completely realistic.

0:34:090:34:15

KNOCK-KNOCK Come in.

0:34:150:34:18

-Good morning, Jeffrey.

-Morning, Gladys.

0:34:190:34:23

-Don't forget, the meeting's five minutes earlier.

-I hadn't forgotten.

0:34:230:34:28

He's not wearing trousers but he does the zip up.

0:34:310:34:34

That was entirely Simon he was inventive in that way,

0:34:420:34:46

but it's not something you look for an actor for.

0:34:460:34:50

David's rather strict on that sort of thing. You can suggest something and he'll laugh like a drongo.

0:34:500:34:58

He used to go, "Ha, ha, HEEE! Ha, ha, HEEE!"

0:34:580:35:01

Ha, ha, ha, ha, HEEE!

0:35:010:35:04

No!

0:35:060:35:07

He'd love it, he'd laugh, then he'd cut it.

0:35:080:35:12

Not many actors have contributed.

0:35:120:35:15

It's not their fault David and I felt our lines were better.

0:35:150:35:19

"First of all, you done a swell job last season.

0:35:190:35:24

"But this year you've got to top it.

0:35:270:35:30

"And then some... And THEN some!"

0:35:300:35:33

It's in his own words of course. It's not...me.

0:35:330:35:37

You could never tell who'd done what, but you suspected that Jimmy was the broad sweep, and David the polisher.

0:35:370:35:45

You can spot a line. A David gag, or a Jimmy gag. You know the way they think.

0:35:450:35:52

Jimmy does all the creation of a scene.

0:35:520:35:55

I think Jimmy does all that and David goes BANG at the end.

0:35:550:36:01

We've cracked it this is the ultimate pool wheeze.

0:36:010:36:05

I'll put it in the programme Mr Fairbrother WHEEZE in the pool!

0:36:050:36:11

-That's right.

-Wheeze!

-Wees in the pool.

-Wees in the pool.

-That's right.

0:36:120:36:17

-That was definitely Croft.

-Definitely, yeah. We knew that.

0:36:170:36:21

HE MOUTHS

0:36:210:36:23

A "wee" joke would probably come from David.

0:36:250:36:28

-Jimmy would be, "Oh, no, dear boy, can't do that."

-"Public will go mad, can't do that!"

0:36:280:36:35

Jimmy loves Lucie Mabel Attwell. Sorry, darling, to give it all away.

0:36:350:36:41

He'd say, "Su, I'm so tired today, I'm going to hide in my flowerpot."

0:36:410:36:46

I imagine that I'm climbing into a flowerpot,

0:36:460:36:51

and there's nice soft moss in the bottom with a faint soporific smell,

0:36:510:36:58

and I curl up in the moss and snuggle down,

0:36:580:37:02

and listen to the rain.

0:37:020:37:05

But I don't mind because I'm all cosy and warm.

0:37:050:37:09

And then I imagine I'm getting... smaller and smaller and smaller.

0:37:090:37:16

And then I drop off.

0:37:180:37:21

I'll try that tonight.

0:37:210:37:23

Gladys had this marvellous look to Jeffrey.

0:37:230:37:26

We just said, "Yes, that's it!"

0:37:260:37:30

and gave her situations to use it.

0:37:300:37:34

She's a thoroughly genuine, warm-hearted, good person...

0:37:340:37:39

..and we all love her.

0:37:400:37:42

Gladys Pugh, the vamp of the valleys, is marvellous.

0:37:510:37:54

Her smouldering desire for Jeffrey and her protectiveness is very well done.

0:37:540:38:00

This isn't very cosy, Jeffrey.

0:38:030:38:05

Gladys, I gave you Father Bear's bed.

0:38:070:38:10

If you think Mother Bear's bed is more comfortable, we can change.

0:38:100:38:14

Why don't we put them all together? Then we can snuggle up.

0:38:140:38:19

'Gladys was never gonna get Jeffrey Fairbrother.'

0:38:190:38:24

She was one of those lovely women that are treated badly.

0:38:240:38:28

Ah, Glad, I am sorry, love.

0:38:280:38:32

If you ask me, he's making a big mistake.

0:38:320:38:35

-He'll never find better than you.

-Thanks, Ted.

0:38:350:38:39

Maybe it's for the best. He's an educated university professor and you're just a girl from the valleys.

0:38:390:38:46

I think writers have to think more if they're writing for a woman.

0:38:490:38:54

They don't associate a woman with banter and insults and things,

0:38:540:38:59

so they have to write a different kind of comedy for them.

0:38:590:39:03

-GLADYS SINGS OPERATIC PIECE #

-Verniculi, vernicular...

-#

0:39:030:39:10

Ohhh!

0:39:120:39:14

-#

-..Verniculi, vernicular...

-#

0:39:140:39:17

Peggy Ollerenshaw is marvellous constantly auditioning.

0:39:170:39:22

# Mac-a-ro-ni, bolognaise and stuff

0:39:220:39:26

# Ice cream, you scream, cannot get enough

0:39:260:39:29

# It's in your ears and up your nose and in between your little toes

0:39:290:39:33

# Stuff it in the saucepan till it grows and grows and grows. #

0:39:330:39:36

She had a real enthusiasm for life which she communicated to everybody.

0:39:360:39:41

Excuse me, Mr Fairbrother, if one of the girls goes to the BANANAS, there will be a vacancy for a Yellowcoat.

0:39:410:39:48

She thinks she's going to be a Yellowcoat.

0:39:480:39:52

I don't want to be pushy, but I've done lots for you round the camp... I think I ought to be considered.

0:39:520:39:59

This longing to be a Yellowcoat. They played on the sympathy side of Peggy

0:39:590:40:04

and they got so much mileage out of that facet.

0:40:040:40:09

All I've got is my personality and lots of go, but I'll get there, you'll see!

0:40:090:40:15

People like to see comedy where people try their best and just fail.

0:40:180:40:23

I just want you to know, I'm not giving up.

0:40:240:40:28

I'll keep on trying and I'll be wearing that Yellowcoat one day. You'll see. Hi-di-Hi.

0:40:280:40:35

(Ho-di-Ho).

0:40:350:40:37

Nearly all the most lovable characters in British sitcom are losers.

0:40:380:40:44

Jimmy and David are masters at showing our own frailties on screen.

0:40:440:40:50

-What happened? It were a bloody disaster!

-What d'you mean? It can't have been!

0:40:500:40:57

-You see these two feet? I died on them tonight.

-What went wrong?

0:40:570:41:02

When I got there, it were a lovely room, white tablecloths, silver, the lot.

0:41:020:41:09

They had evening dress and polite voices.

0:41:090:41:12

They ate them lamb chops with white frills. I thought, "If I can make it here, I can anywhere."

0:41:120:41:19

To me, there's nothing more sad than a comic getting old who's never really made it.

0:41:190:41:26

I thought, "Hit 'em with a big one," so I told the one about the tarts and the sailor. Nothing!

0:41:260:41:33

So I did the vicar in the chemist's.

0:41:330:41:36

-The one where he thinks they're balloons?

-That's the one.

0:41:360:41:40

Followed by the poof and the bishop picking up the hymn book.

0:41:400:41:45

-I'm a failed comic, he's not even started.

-And there's no chance for Spike whatsoever.

0:41:450:41:52

I'm Pinocchio and I'm made of wood, but I WOODN'T let that bother you.

0:41:520:41:58

Certainly, a Croft-Perry script must have a degree of physical fun,

0:42:000:42:05

and they're brilliant at situations which put the teams into sight gags.

0:42:050:42:10

I can only see straight ahead. You need a rear-view mirror.

0:42:100:42:15

BACK-END OF HORSE: You get plenty of rear view where I am.

0:42:150:42:19

Su and I were in a pantomime horse. I took the reins of a real horse as nobody else was about.

0:42:190:42:26

It fell in love with me.

0:42:300:42:32

'It came nose to nose and started blowing up my false nostrils.'

0:42:320:42:37

SPIKE: What am I gonna do with it? PEGGY: Take it to the stables.

0:42:370:42:44

And Leslie Dwyer doing so exquisitely a very, very old gag.

0:42:580:43:03

Some whisky in one hand, banana in the other.

0:43:030:43:07

'He looks at the bottle of whisky, looks at the banana...'

0:43:090:43:14

There are certain, good formulas,

0:43:200:43:23

and if they're treated with freshness and amuse us, they can be repeated for ever.

0:43:230:43:29

When you stop enjoying writing, it's time to finish.

0:43:290:43:33

Nobody wants you to, the cast doesn't want you to, the BBC get good figures, but it's time to go.

0:43:330:43:41

# Goodnight. #

0:43:410:43:44

'It's very sad.'

0:43:440:43:47

Actors are very emotional people, they get attached to a programme.

0:43:480:43:53

When it ceases, when it stops, it's sad.

0:43:530:43:57

-You said you weren't gonna get sentimental.

-Well...

0:43:570:44:02

I was just thinking about the good times we've had round this pool.

0:44:020:44:07

The last episode was like... I didn't want it to come.

0:44:070:44:12

And I don't think anybody else did, didn't want it to arrive, you know.

0:44:120:44:17

Very, very sad.

0:44:170:44:20

Even now, when I think about it, it prangs a bit, cos I loved it. You tell him.

0:44:200:44:26

The British holiday won't be the same, will it? The wind of change.

0:44:260:44:31

You're right there, Spike.

0:44:310:44:34

-It's the wind of change.

-< BEEP-BEEP

0:44:340:44:38

Come on.

0:44:400:44:42

On our last day of filming, there was a great hurricane.

0:44:440:44:49

Trees went all over the chalets and fell in the pool and it was the end of an era we were finishing.

0:44:490:44:57

I don't think it ever opened again after that.

0:44:570:45:01

HI-DI-HI!

0:45:060:45:11

It's striking if you look across the range of Croft and Perry's work,

0:45:120:45:18

that you can locate it in a precise concept of Englishness.

0:45:180:45:22

I was reminded of their work reading Character Of England by Ernest Barker

0:45:220:45:27

in which he isolated six qualities of Englishness, all of which applied to their work.

0:45:270:45:34

Social cohesion and a hierarchy leading to snobbishness.

0:45:340:45:38

Did you enjoy the picture, Sponge? I couldn't see very well.

0:45:380:45:42

-We should have got the ninepennies.

-I wouldn't sit in those cheap seats. You don't know who's sat in them.

0:45:420:45:50

Eccentricity individualism at large.

0:45:500:45:53

-Defy the sun!

-ALL: Come on, sun! Do your worst!

0:45:530:45:57

I say, what's going on?

0:45:570:45:59

-I was just telling the men to fight the sun, sir.

-Good show! Carry on.

0:45:590:46:06

A mistrust of professionalism.

0:46:060:46:10

MIKE GETS LOUDER One, two, three, four, five.

0:46:100:46:14

Little technical hitch... Um...

0:46:140:46:17

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Entertainments Manager, saying...

0:46:170:46:22

SILENCE

0:46:220:46:24

TUNELESS FANFARE

0:46:240:46:30

A sense of voluntary service, of wanting to do good, wanting to help out.

0:46:300:46:35

-You're too young to die let me go, sir.

-Thank you, Jones, but I must go.

0:46:350:46:42

The gentlemanly code. The code of good form.

0:46:460:46:50

Let me tell you, Sergeant Major, my wife is 6,000 miles away but I don't behave like a randy animal!

0:46:500:46:58

I don't go round the countryside giving ladies kick-starts!

0:46:590:47:04

And lastly, an eternal boyishness.

0:47:040:47:07

HE MOUTHS

0:47:090:47:11

Watch what you're doing!

0:47:110:47:13

The main thing is they're a good laugh, and shouldn't be dissected,

0:47:170:47:24

whether they're politically correct or whether they're incorrect.

0:47:240:47:29

"Were they a laugh?" is the thing,

0:47:290:47:32

and where they are concerned, they provided many, many good laughs.

0:47:320:47:37

I think somebody once said of themselves, they were not over-educated.

0:47:370:47:44

I think it applies to Jimmy and me we're not over-educated and...

0:47:440:47:49

we're sort of...

0:47:490:47:51

sophisticated as far as theatre and theatricals are concerned.

0:47:510:47:57

But we don't analyse much. If it's funny and we can get it in, we do.

0:47:570:48:02

I said to my father, "I only want to do two things. I want to be a famous film star or a great comedian."

0:48:020:48:10

And he looked at me and said those immortal words, "You stupid boy!"

0:48:100:48:17

NATIONAL ANTHEM PLAYS

0:48:200:48:25

Subtitles by Angela Clarke BBC 1995

0:48:510:48:55