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Bus Crash and 1960's Comedy

Author: Peter Keat Published: 7th May 2008 06:16




The Pictures:  It is not everyday that you see a bus in the air over Copsey Grove next to the Eastern Road at Farlington. This happened thirty years ago when a double decker bus had to be lifted bodily from the back gardens of the house on the Grove. The bus belonged to Aerosol Research and Development of Fitzherbert Spur, Farlington and it was returning to the factory after taking home twelve members of the night shift. The bus was empty apart from the driver who was not hurt and no other vehicles were involved from the second picture it is easy to see that the bonnet of the vehicle destroyed the garden shed belonging to Mrs P Brooks and did a very few favours to the flower beds either. The owners stated at the time that a full inquiry would be held into the incident unfortunately I do not have their findings, so what caused the crash will remain a mystery. I am indebted to Melv Bridger for supplying the photos and info, must have been worrying for his family as the were living only a few doors away at the time!


  Comedy on TV

           Whilst wandering through the Internet the other day I came across some reference to 1960's TV comedy programmes so I set the old grey cells at it, now how many of these do YOU remember? I have tried to avoid the well known programmes!


All Gas And Gaiters  

 Clerical comedies were very popular during the 1960s. It often seemed as if every one of them starred Derek Nimmo, who played dithery curate Mervyn Noote in this series. The programme began as an episode of 'Comedy Playhouse' and also starred William Mervyn (as the Bishop) and Robertson Hare (as the Archdeacon). Trying to bring some law and order to the life in the Bishops Palace was the Dean, played lugubriously by John Barron. I understand that the BBC has recently released some of the later episodes on video and DVD.


Our Man at St Marks

Another clerical comedy, this time the Reverend Andrew Parker (Leslie Phillips) is the vicar of St Marks Church in a small village called Felgate.  WIth the aid of his stern but loyal housekeeper, Mrs Peace (Joan Hickson), he becomes involved in the daily trials and tribulations of his parishioners. After the first series, Reverend Stephen Young (Donald Sinden) became the new vicar. The final series, in which the programme was retitled Our Man From St Mark's, saw Reverend Young promoted to Archdeacon and moving away from the village to work in a cathedral city. A fairly meteoritic rise through the hierarchy of the Church of England.


Bootsie & Snudge

Montague 'Bootsie' Bisley (Alfie Bass) is demobbed from the Army and finds work as a handyman at the Imperial Club, a gentleman's club in the West End of London. The hall porter at the club is Claude Snudge (Bill Fraser), previously the Sergeant Major in charge of Bootsie's unit at Nether Wallop Army Camp and an internal battle begins.The final series, made after a long gap, involved Bootsie winning a million pounds on the pools. Claude Snudge turns up and appoints himself Bootsie's "financial advisor". This programme was a 'spin-off' from the popular programme The Army Game.


Comedy Playhouse

This was for many years BBC Television's 'proving ground' for new comedy programmes. A whole host of successful sitcoms from the 'sixties and 'seventies were first shown as part of this programme. Among the programmes first seen in Comedy Playhouse were: Steptoe And Son, Till Death Us Do Part, All Gas And Gaiters, Beggar My Neighbour, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served ? and  Last Of The Summer Wine


 Fairly Secret Army

  Harry Truscott (Geoffrey Palmer, he of ‘Butterfly's' and ‘As Time Goes By') was a retired Major who has spent much of his adult life in the British Army. He is portrayed as finding it difficult to adjust to civilian life so, when he gets the chance to become involved with a pseudo-military organisation, he doesn't hesitate. Truscott and his ‘fairly secret Army' are convinced that the forces of anarchy are about to take control of the United Kingdom. They are also convinced that they represent democracy's last line of defence.  Of course it is all a pipe dream.

The Gnomes of Dulwich 

Big (Terry Scott), Small (Hugh Lloyd) and Old (John Clive) are a group of china gnomes who live in the garden of 25 Telegraph Road, Dulwich, London. The gnomes organise a protest campaign against the importation of plastic European gnomes into the area. Not a roaring success as a programme.

The Larkins 

Alf Larkin (David Kossoff) was a meek and mild cockney who was married to the formidable Ada (Peggy Mount) with a voice like a foghorn and she ruled the household with a rod of iron. They had a rather dim-witted son Eddie (Shaun O'Riordan) and a daughter Joyce (Ruth Trouncer), who married to ex-G.I. Jeff Roger (Ronan O'Casey, an actor who seemed to pop up all over the place in the early 1960's when a Director wanted someone with a transatlantic accent).

A Life Of Bliss  


David Bliss (George Cole) was an awkward, bumbling young man with a tendency to find himself in awkward situations. The programme was based on a long-running BBC radio series and is chiefly remembered for the fact that  Percy Edwards played Psyche the dog.


Love Thy Neighbour

Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst) is a  racist bigot who's always going on about "sambos" and "nignogs" He lives fairly happily in a quiet street with his wife Joan (Kate Williams) until the day new neighbours Bill (Rudolph Walker, recently to be seen in ‘The Thin Blue Line') and Barbie Reynolds (Nina Baden-Semper) move in. The new neighbours are West Indians, so it isn't long before Eddie's prejudices begin to cause problems although the wives end up being the best of friends. A programme, which in this politically correct era would probably cause offence if show.


Meet the Wife

Freddie Blacklock (Freddie Frinton) is a plumber living and working in the north of England. He's a down-to-earth sort of bloke who likes to take things easy. Freddie's wife Thora (Thora Hird) has ambitions for the couple to 'get on' and improve their station in life. She has a snobbish streak, often 'putting on a posh voice' in a vain attempt to impress whoever she happens to be speaking to at the time. The programmes main claim to fame is that it is referred to in the Beatles' song "Good Morning, Good Morning".


The Rag Trade

A programme that just has to be mentioned. Mr Fenner (Peter Jones) owns a small clothing company, Fenner Fashions. He has daily battles with his workforce, particularly with the Shop Steward, Paddy (Miriam Karlin). The original BBC Television series, made during the 1960s, also featured Reg Varney, Sheila Hancock, Barbara Windsor and Esma Cannon.

The programme was revived in 1977 for London Weekend Television. Peter Jones and Miriam Karlin, reprising their original roles, were joined by Christopher Beeny, Diane Langton, Anna Karen and Gillian Taylforth but it was not a success.


The Likely Lads

Terry Collier (James Bolam) and Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes) have been friends since they were small children. Bob is the 'sensible' one, doing his best to get on with his job and 'better himself'. Terry is the 'irresponsible' one, intent on living life to the full. He's forever getting himself (and Terry) into trouble of one kind or another. One of the classic sitcoms of the 1960s, many of the recordings were 'lost' when the original master tapes were wiped at the end of the 1960s. HoweverThis programme later gave rise to an even better sequel, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads

Romany Jones

Wally Briggs (Arthur Mullard) and his wife Lily (Queenie Watts) live in a caravan on a dilapidated site. Bert Jones (James Beck) and his wife Betty (Jo Rowbottom) are a newly married couple who live in the caravan "next door". After the death of James Beck,(Private Walker in Dad's Army) Bert and Betty were written out of the series. This programme gave rise to a sequel, Yus My Dear. Where the Briggs leave the caravan site where they've been living for many years. They "move up in the world" to a council house. Wally's brother Benny (Mike Reid) invites himself to stay in the Briggs' new house. He proves to be a bad influence on Wally, who's trying to earn an honest living as a bricklayer. Not one of TV's best programmes!

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Mick B
At 22:18 on 23rd November 2008, Mick B commented:
I remember the staff buses at Aerosol Research & Development well. I think one of them came from Blackpool council originally, we used to wind the front & back destination boards around to read "The Zoo" just for a laugh.
Peter K
At 07:32 on 25th November 2008, Peter K commented:
Thanks again Mick, if you have any more tales re the Research establishment I would love to hear them.

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