Over the last few months I've been slowly working my way through the DVD release of the surviving episodes of Series 1 and 2 of HUGH AND I (dating from 1962 and 1963), which of course was produced by David Croft (and is possibly the origin of the 'You Have Been Watching' caption on his comedies).
I have to be honest and say that the laughs are titters rather than guffaws and the scripts by John Chapman are a touch weak. Hugh Lloyd seems to be channeling Stan Laurel in his on-screen persona as 'Hugh Lloyd' while Terry Scott, as 'Terry Scott', is competent without commanding the attention in the way that Arthur Lowe or Tony Hancock did in similar roles. (And it must have taken them an age to come up with those character names! )
There's quite an ensemble cast, what with Terry, Hugh and Terry's 'mother' Vi Stephens, when you also consider the neighbours who include Patricia Hayes, Jack Haig (from Series 2), Mollie Sugden, Wallas Eaton and Jill Curzon (who would go on to co-star in the second Doctor Who 'Daleks' film in 1966). There are also occasional appearances by the ever amusing Fred Emney as a member of the landed gentry.
From a Dad's Army / Croft-Perry-Lloyd perspective, there are several actors who appear in Hugh and I who later worked on Dad's Army or other connected series, including the aforementioned Jack Haig (explaining why he was in the frame to play Jones in 1968), Mollie Sugden and Frank Williams.
Worth exploring, but hardly laugh a minute.
Last Edit: Jul 26, 2020 1:43:27 GMT 12 by Alan Hayes
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2020 9:21:04 GMT 12
I have never found Terry Scott to be particularly funny or appealling, I always thought he was overrated. His only performance I enjoyed was as Penfold in Dangermouse.
I have not seen Hugh Lloyd in much but he was very funny in You Rang M'Lord as Sir Ralph's drunken butler.
I don't think I have ever sat through a whole episode of of Hugh And I, I've only seen clips, but it did not really appeal to me. Mind you most of the comedies that were 'big' at that time seem a bit insipid and lacking in humour when I watch them these days. I guess my taste was spoiled by the slightly later arrival of genuinely hilarious comedies like Dad's Amy, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Open All Hours, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools And Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Blackadder, etc, so stepping back to the early stuff it feels like it's missing something. And whatever it was that the BBC had for making really good comedy in that latter period, they see to have lost again.
Post by Alan Hayes on Jul 27, 2020 12:43:28 GMT 12
The BBC don't really make much comedy these days. They buy it in from independent production companies. Of course, the breaking up of the BBC production model by forcing independent production upon them (an action of Margaret Thatcher's government IIRC) was truly the end of the golden era of British television. It really is a pale shadow of its former self these days.
As for the TV comedies of the 50s and early 60s, they were all a bit gentle - or at least seem it compared to what came after - and I agree with you about Terry Scott. As a kid I found him more irritating than funny - and his schoolkid act, as preserved in the Curlywurly chocolate bar ads, was pretty nauseating.
For me, it's only Galton and Simpson's material from the 50s and 60s that really holds up today of the comedy output prior to Dad's Army.
Last Edit: Jul 27, 2020 12:44:05 GMT 12 by Alan Hayes
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 27, 2020 13:00:50 GMT 12
We never got the Curlywurly adverts thankfully, but as a kid I could not stand Terry Scott in Terry And June (and other variations that they seemed to do together).
I had not realised that the government had forced the BBC to use independent companies. I knew they had started doing it but was not aware it was mandated. What a stupid thing to do. Very little post-1980's situation comedy is any good. A few exceptions include One Foot In The Grave, Mr Bean, The Royle Family, The Inbetweeners... struggling to think of others that have become classics.
As for the 1950's and early 1960's shows I guess it was a progression from the 1940's and 50's radio sitcoms to TV and it all took time to evolve. Some of the shows that on paper sounded great have been really disappointing when finally get to see them, like The Army Game or Bootsie And Snudge, etc. They're OK but not great like the late shows. As well as Hancock and Steptoe another pre-Dad's Army era sitcom that had real impact at the time and is still very funny now is Till Death Us Do Part.
Post-80s classic comedies (in my books at least): Father Ted, Black Books, The IT Crowd, Green Wing (though the latter is sort of comedy-drama). Notably all Channel 4 rather than BBC. Probably the only BBC comedy post-80s that I can honestly say I think are great are Bottom and Count Arthur Strong. One Foot in the Grave is great too, yes, but there's a darkness to that which leads me often not to think of it as a sitcom at all.
And I managed to watch Till Death Us Do Part all the way through... and it was a real slog. I really don't rate Johnny Speight (and sorry for the awful rhyme!).
And yes, the government imposed a quota on the BBC, whereby a percentage (25% IIRC) of their programming had to be produced by independents. How to kill a brand respected the world over...
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 28, 2020 16:36:17 GMT 12
A yes, The IT Crowd is great. Black Books is sublime. And Father Ted is brilliant. I never watched Green Wing.
Whilst I can see that watching the series right through could be hard work, Alf Garnett was definitely one of the great characters of the time, and he represented a lot more people than Britain would dare to admit now too I'll bet. I am always conflicted when I watch, as his attitudes were often disgusting but he was also very funny and some of the things he said made a lot of sense. Unlike that ITV crap Love Thy Neighbour which was just pure unfunny racism.
The best episode of Till Death for me was when they go to the pub on the Saturday night, and three celebrities come in for a drink.
We used to get a lot of excellent one-off Sunday night dramas from Britain in the 1980's, 1990's and early 2000's. They were always really top notch, always a different story, and while many were from the BBC, many also seemed to be ITV products. I gave up watching television about five years back, but for some years before that we never saw those stand-alone two hour dramas any more. So with the demise of decent sitcoms also went the one-off dramas. Now the focus seems to be on epic long running series instead. A shame.
Johnny Speight , like Spike Milligan & Benny Hill did recycle a lot of material over the years, now lots of early shows are available it's easy to see this, some Hugh & I clips are on You-tube, its alright for the time but I don't plan to buy the DVD.