Skip to comments.Dad's Army creator JIMMY PERRY on the BBC's refusal to show repeats of his other greatest hit
Posted on 03/18/2014 1:25:46 PM PDT by servo1969
Full Title - It ain't half daft for the BBC to ban my show for being racist: Dad's Army creator JIMMY PERRY on the BBC's refusal to show repeats of his other greatest hit"
Heres a funny thing, though it might not make you laugh. Dads Army, the show I created and co-wrote with David Croft, is repeated every Saturday and gets audiences of 2.2 million.
But my favourite sitcom of all, the one that recaptures the most extraordinary era of my life, will never be screened again.
It Aint Half Hot Mum has been deemed by the BBC too politically incorrect and even racist to be repeated.
I believe its equally as funny as Dads Army, and full of characters just as memorable the blustering sergeant-major, the camp drag artiste and the Indian orderly who was more British than the Brits.
The comedy about a Royal Artillery concert party stationed in India in the last months of World War II was ribald and often farcical, but anyone who has served in the Armed Forces knows that is exactly what its like.
Like all the shows David Croft and I wrote together including Hi-de-Hi!, set in a Fifties holiday camp, and the upstairs downstairs comedy You Rang, MLord? this was deeply rooted in reality. And thats the problem. Too many executives at the BBC have rather too little idea what reality looks like.
They are Oxbridge graduates trained by other Oxbridge graduates who learnt what they know from still more Oxbridge graduates. The real world doesnt get a look-in at todays BBC.
Im 90 and my generation, by contrast, had about as much reality as anyone could wish for. During World War II, I joined the Home Guard: it was 1941 and I was the 16-year-old original of Private Pike.
Two years later, I was conscripted into the Royal Artillery as a gunner. In 1944, I was sent to Burma, where I spent four months manning a gun battery, before I was sent to Deolali, near Mumbai, and joined the concert party. We didnt call it Deolali in those days it was Doolally!
Like the characters in our sitcom, I was a gunner, and the standing joke was that maybe one day we were gunner get home.
They didnt tell us until the war was over that there was no chance of that happening any time soon: with millions of troops in India and south-east Asia, and only a small fleet of troopships, getting back to Blighty was a long, slow business. David and I wrote that into one episode.
When the colonel tells the gang show performers that Japan has surrendered, Gloria the mincing little star of the show, played by Melvyn Hayes trots off the parade ground to pack a suitcase.
The sergeant-major is apoplectic. Where do you think youre going? he bellows. A simple line, and it got one of the biggest laughs Ive ever heard from a studio audience.
David and I didnt write jokes, we wrote situations, so the comedy required great actors and we had one in Windsor Davies, with his bulging eyes, needletip moustaches and booming Welsh roar.
The conscripts did think they were going home, and the sergeant-majors knew only too well that, when the men were demobbed, their empires would be over.
Another empire ended at the same time, of course Britains. I was in India during the switch to independence, and for a lad from Barnes in London it was a strange experience. But I soaked all of it up, and any writer will tell you that such powerful impressions are bound to fuel your imagination in later life.
The BBC youngsters can't accept the world was a very different place then. To pretend otherwise would be lying.
India fascinated me. The languages, the smells, the great beauty, the immense poverty the truth is, I was sad to leave.
We toured for two years, as our signature tune said, From Bangalore to Singapore, from Rangoon to Bombay...and if you really liked our show, well come again another day.
We even found ourselves on the north-west frontier, which was ruled by bandit tribes. Our bearer was always with us, an educated and marvellously efficient man who went to extraordinary lengths for us.
Before an inspection, he would work furiously to make every bit of leather and brass shine, before picking us up and carrying us on his back to the parade ground. He did it to keep the dust off us: in that heat the earth was as dry as ash.
Once we were in position, hed give our boots one final rub with his cloth. Its bizarre to look back on that and realise that it once seemed normal thats how the Army worked almost 70 years ago.
And thats what the BBC youngsters cannot accept. The world was a very different place then. We cant pretend otherwise. It would be lying.
It might seem outrageous, even decadent, that a bunch of song-and-dance conscripts had to be carried around a parade ground, but thats because were looking back from a 21st-century perspective.
The bearers saw their duties as deeply honourable, and took pride in performing them to the highest standard.
When I finally boarded for home in 1946, my bearer asked me, with a lump in his throat: Can I come home to Blighty with you, sahib?
His name was Rangi Ram, and we kept that name for the character who narrated It Aint Half Hot Mum.
He always talked of We British and he had two lovely catchphrases, when he was berating his juniors, which will be familiar to viewers with long memories Damn natives! and Dont be such a clever dickie!
When a British officer corrected him, he would scold himself: Sahib righty, Rangi wrongy!
At the end of every episode, Rangi delivered some piece of spurious wisdom, with the words: There is an old Hindu proverb . . .
And then he would tell us a bit of nonsense, such as: When you have cholera and Delhi belly, it does not stop your house from catching fire.
Our lead actor, Michael Bates, was born in India, spoke Urdu and Hindi. He loved India, and so did I.
To play a character who meant so much to me, we needed a special actor. And we found one in the great Michael Bates.
He was born to British parents in India, the son of an Empire civil servant. He spoke Urdu and Hindi fluently, and sometimes he and I would talk in the pidgin Urdu that I had picked up in the Forces.
Like most children of Empire, hed had an Indian nurse, an ayah, who taught him the best of her own culture. He never lost the ability to squat on his haunches a great relaxation trick. He died tragically young of cancer in 1978, aged 57.
Michael loved India, and so did I. That shines through in every episode of It Aint Half Hot Mum, and we made nearly 60. But because he is a white man wearing a turban and playing a native Indian, we are accused of racism.
People claim Michael was blacking up, which is simply not true. He just needed a little make-up to tan his skin, a trick that every newsreader uses these days.
We would have been delighted to use Indian actors, if we could have found any. This was the first BBC sitcom even to be set outside Britain, and we did not live in a multicultural society in the Seventies (the series ran from 1974 to 1981).
It was considered normal for Larry Olivier or Donald Sinden to black up when they played Othello today, that would be wrong, but those were different times.
We did get an excellent Bangladeshi actor to play the char wallah, the boy who brings the tea urn round. His name was Dino Shafeek, and if I remember correctly he was working in a restaurant as a waiter when he first auditioned.
It frustrates me that television today is run by people who dont know their history. They dont want to face the fact that, within my lifetime, Britain ruled a third of the worlds population so they ignore it.
Its such a waste: vintage comedy is a wonderful tool to help a new generation understand the past.
Many people in the industry will agree with me but cant speak up because they might lose their jobs. I have the advantage of being 90, so I can say what I like.
It takes courage to face the past and confront sensitive issues. Sadly, by banning It Aint Half Hot Mum from our screens, the BBC is taking the cowardly way out.
The show is hilarious. But PC has pretty much reduced TV to toilet humour and crude sex jokes.
I saw that episode on repeat in 1980s on KOCE when they used show a lot of Brit comedies back in da day it wasn’t that bad
I think BBC are too much PC cowards
I guess old England is truly done.
Thanks Servo, Thia show is new to me. I’ll give it a watch.
My husband grew up with these comedies. We actually have several on DVD. You can find them for order on the Internet.
Thanks for the link, Servo.
I grew up with it, so a refresher is great. :)
The show was paid for by BBC license holders these programs do not belong to the BBC but to the people.
This is censorship by an unelected BBC administration and the sooner the British rid them selves of this antiquated and mediocre institution the better.
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