Could This Really Be Seen As A Forerunner To Bread?

‘Wackers’  a scouse term for mates was also the name of an ill feted TV sitcom (ill feted in that it never really gained much popularity).  Despite a who’s who of sitcom cast, this ITV comedy, seen by some as a poor forerunner to Bread, lasted just one series of seven episodes.

It’s another one of those forgotten sitcoms that upset everybody at the time, there again during the 1970’s there were many sitcoms that ruffled a few feathers.  It was just a time where nothing seemed to be off the cards as subject matter for comedy.

The Wackers was the first sitcom to come from the pen of Vince Powell as a solo writer, he of course had had other hits but with writing partner Harry Driver.  It was in fact Powell himself who in his autobiography ‘From Rags To Gags’, had called the show a forerunner to ‘Bread’. There was even an equivalent ‘Grandad’ figure in the shape of Joe Gladwin’s incontinent ‘Joe Farrell’.

However, some people have also looked upon it as the forerunner to Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais’ ‘Going Straight’ ( ‘Fletcher’ also had a son called ‘Raymond’, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst ).  This is probably more by coincidence that anyone draws any comparisons as both Going Straight and Bread were huge successes and the Wackers lasted just one series in 1975 of seven episodes.

Though he was a Mancunian, Vince Powell had lived in Liverpool for four years and felt he knew something of that unique brand of humour and so set the show in Liverpool.  The theme tune was ‘In My Liverpool Home’ sung by The Spinners ( with a touch of Cilla Black’s ‘Liverpool Lullaby’ thrown in for good measure ).

The Wackers occupied a 9.30 slot on a Wedsnesday night, suitable you would think to allow for a little language.  Yet despite this ‘The Wackers’ was heavily criticised for its reliance on bad language (realistically it was no worse than what was to be found in ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ ).

When the show came to the end of its run, ITV announced it would not be coming back.  It would seem few were sorry to see it end.

All seven episodes still exist in the archives.

Summary

Newly released from a two-year prison term, Billy Clarkson rejoins his family – wife Mary, daughter Bernadette, sons Tony and Raymond, and grandparents Joe and Maggie – in the inner-city area of Dingle.

The series follows Billy as he re-adjusts to the demands of domestic life.

Things are so much more difficult with a divided family, who are divided in almost every way: half the family is Protestant, the other half Catholic, and there’s a constant threat of verbal argy-bargy erupting between the true-blue Evertonians and the Liverpool Reds…

Clips

 

 

Cast

Ken Jones – Billy Clarkson
Sheila Fay – Mary Clarkson
Alison Steadman – Bernadette Clarkson
Keith Chegwin – Raymond Clarkson
Bill Dean – Charlie
Pearl Hackney – Maggie Clarkson
Joe Gladwin – Joe Farrell
David Casey – Tony Clarkson

Details

Channel: ITV
Written By: Vince Powell
Produced By: Thames Television
Original Transmission Dates: 19th March 1975 – 30th April 1975

Please note this article has been compiled from a number of different sources and we have only been able to estimate the final episode’s transmission date.

 

The Wackers – The Complete Series [DVD]


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