Friday, 16 January 2009
Fun With Dick, George & Mildred
While The Two Ronnies, Morcambe & Wise and Benny Hill are endlessly repeated, you will seldom see a repeat of either The Dick Emery Show or sitcom George & Mildred, yet in their day they were just as big, winning massive ratings for their channels.
I don't know why either Dick Emery or George and Mildred should have left such an indelible impression on a young child but they did. Perhaps because they contained such colourful characters and Dick Emery and Yootha Joyce (aka Mildred) had such wonderfully mischievous smiles with matching glints in their eye.
For a while it was impossible to obtain even tribute videos/DVDs, though these are at last available.
Watching them now it is easy to see why Dick Emery has fallen out of favour as his shows lampooning the little-Hitlerdom of railway station masters (oh where have they gone now we need them?), his man-eating females, insincere vicars and outrageously cliched homosexuals have dated badly, cutting-edge though they may have been when he first rose to stardom in the late 1950s. On the other hand they are also uproariously un-PC, and to be fair to Mr Emery, he always wanted to be more adventurous and develop his comedy more innovatively but a staid BBC refused to let him take risks with one of their biggest hit shows, insisting he carry on churning out comedy for mass consumption, forever employing his cast of tried and trusted characters. However Harry Enfield has more than once generously credited Dick Emery as his greatest inspiration, and when you watch Mr Enfield's shows you can see the comedy lineage. Here is a clip of 'Hettie' unselfishly thinking of others.
George and Mildred was a spin-off from hit-com Robin's Nest and G&M were originally cameo characters who played the neighbours of man-about-town Robin who rather daringly (for the 1970s) shared a flat with two hot chicks, albeit neither of whom actually fancied him, much though he tried to pretend otherwise to the world.
Mildred was the undisputed Queen of Brentford Nylon, childless and sexually frustrated and forever trying to seduce her hapless, sexually-terrified and underachieving husband George, whose job it was to try and dodge her amorous advances. A loveable monster, Mildred was a curious hybrid of traditional and liberated woman who aspired to better things but could never quite escape the 'you've made your bed so you must lie in it' doctrine of her parents' generation and admit that she'd married the wrong man. However she did break free when it came to fashion, wearing the most extraordinary clashes with her equally-loud floral wallpaper and wafting about in aforementioned glamorous negligee's of the nylon persuasion, teamed with colourful plastic earrings and occasionally macs as she led a life of loud-but-quiet desperation. George too managed to be so much more than a foil and was funny in his own right, and secretly caring and loyal too, despite living in fear of his overbearing wife. They had equally memorable neighbours in the 'perfect' middle-class Fourmile family who seemed to have everything Mildred had ever aspired to, including an absurdly precocious son Tristram, and to whom Mildred alternately sucked up and was green with envy towards. Here's a cute YouTube clip of George & Mildred babysitting, posted by the young actor featured.