Film Review – THE LIKELY LADS (1976)

The Likely Lads writers on lost episodes rediscovered, and why the ...THE LIKELY LADS (1976, UK) ***
Comedy
dist. Anglo-EMI Film Distributors; pr co. Anglo-EMI Productions; d. Michael Tuchner; w. Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais; exec pr. Nat Cohen, Philip Collins; pr. Aida Young; ph. Tony Imi (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.66:1); m. Mike Hugg; ed. Ralph Sheldon; ad. Robert Jones; cos. Emma Porteous; m/up. Neville Smallwood, Jan Dorman; sd. Kevin Sutton (Mono); rel. 2 April 1976 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 90m.

cast: Rodney Bewes (Bob Ferris), James Bolam (Terry Collier), Brigit Forsyth (Thelma Ferris), Mary Tamm (Christina), Sheila Fearn (Audrey Collier), Zena Walker (Laura Windsor), Anulka Dziubinska (Dawn Windsor), Alun Armstrong (Tommy – Milkman), Judy Buxton (Iris), Vicki Michelle (Glenys), Penny Irving (Sandy), Michelle Newell (Alice), Susan Tracy (Edith Collier), Gordon Griffin (Cyril Collier), Edward Wilson (Les Ferris), Roger Avon (Joe the Landlord), Ronald Lacey (Ernie), Elizabeth Lax (Wendy – Bob’s Secretary), Linda Robson (Marsha), Ian McDiarmid (Vicar).

This spin-off from the successful TV series sees childhood pals Bewes and Bolam (as Bob and Terry) at their bickering best as Bewes attempts to come to terms with some form of mid-life crisis. Forsyth is also excellent as Bewes’ manipulative wife, Thelma, striving to find a long-term partner for Bolam. The film is episodic and allows room for the lead characters’ witty philosophical reflections on life. However, it gets caught between two stools by trying to capture the intimacy of its TV roots whilst expanding the setting with a mid-story disastrous caravan holiday. That said there is always a laugh around the corner. Attempts at broader bedroom farce are beneath the rest of the material and seem merely included to appeal to fans of many of the British sex comedies of the day. The film is at its best in its moments of nostalgia. Patchy but entertaining.

TV Review – PORRIDGE: SERIES ONE (2017)

Porridge Series 1 [2017] [DVD] [2016]Porridge: Series One (2017; UK; Colour; 6 x 30m) ***½ pr. Richard Webb; d.  Dominic Brigstocke; w. Dick Clement, Ian Le Frenais.  Cast: Kevin Bishop, Dave Hill, Mark Bonnar, Dominic Coleman, Jason Barnett, Colin Hoult, Harman Singh, Colin McFarlane, Daniel Fearn, Rory Gallagher, Ricky Grover, Harry Peacock, Pippa Haywood, Zahra Ahmadi.  Bishop stars as Nigel Norman Fletcher, the grandson of Ronnie Barker’s Norman Stanley Fletcher from the original series, who is in prison for cyber crimes. Highly enjoyable and old-fashioned comedy that benefits from original scriptwriters Clement and Le Frenais, even if they have recycled some plot lines and jokes from their original scripts. Characters have been re-tooled and the show retains the feel of the the classic series. Bishop is excellent as the wisecracking Fletcher whilst Bonnar and Coleman provide affectionate tributes to Fulton MacKay and Brian Wilde. [12]

Film Review – PORRIDGE (1979)

Image result for porridge 1979Porridge (1979; UK; Eastmancolor; 93m) ***  d. Dick Clement; w. Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais; ph. Robert Huke; m. Terry Oates (supervisor).  Cast: Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Fulton MacKay, Brian Wilde, Peter Vaughan, Julian Holloway, Geoffrey Bayldon, Christopher Godwin, Barrie Rutter, Daniel Peacock, Sam Kelly, Ken Jones, Philip Locke, Gorden Kaye. This prison comedy is based on the popular British television series (1974-7) of the same name. Long-time Slade prison inmate Barker is ordered by Grouty to arrange a football match between the prisoners and an all-star celebrity team unaware that the match is only a diversion so that an escape can take place. Extended but good representation of a classic comedy series. The script is witty and the plot light enough to allow the characters room to breathe. Barker is excellent and is well supported by Beckinsale, Wilde and MacKay. US title: DOING TIME. [PG]