Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em, 1973
“Ooh Betty, the cat’s done a whoopsie on the floor”
The phrase, repeated across the country throughout the 1970s by just about everybody from impressionists dressed in dark beret and raincoat to the school playground.
The phrase was never used in the series but was particuarly popular with impressionist Mike Yarwood. Enter Frank Spencer the well-meaning, ineffectual and utterly accident-prone character that would capture the imagination of a generation.
The BBC had originally wanted Norman Wisdom or Ronnie Barker for the role, both declined, Crawford was the perfect choice, combining an air of innocence with the youth and athleticism necessary to perform some of the biggest and most dangerous stunts British comedy would ever see.
Voted number 22 in a BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom, Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em ran for only twenty two episodes and three specials. It remains one of our most popular posts.
The first two series were broadcast in 1973 and the final series in 1978. Bridging the five year gap were two Christmas Specials screened in 1974 and 1975. Frank bowed out with a Christmas Special in 1978.
As the BBC began to release details about it’s proposed celebrations of Hancock’s Half Hour in 2016 a media frenzie began, as they caught onto an interview with Michelle Dotrice in The Daily Mirror on October 3rd, 2015
In the interview Michelle Dotrice is asked if she plans to work again with Michael Crawford. the answer was “Well, I can’t really say, but yes.
In February 2016 the BBC announced that Frank Spencer was indeed returning as a one off sketch for Sports Relief. The sketch was a huge success leaving fans wanting more. Rumours began to circulate that it would perhaps appear as part of the BBC Landmark Comedy Season scheduled for later the same year.
The BBC pulled out all the stops in 2016, as Hancock’s Half Hour marked 60 years since it’s TV debut, but the BBC is stayed non commital on any future plans for Frank and Betty, saying only “It’s one of several shows being considered for BBC One’s Landmark Sitcom Season, but nothing is confirmed as yet and none of the original cast has been approached by us.” The Landmark Comedy Season came and went and did not include any new adventures for Frank Spencer.
In February 2016 the BBC announced that Frank Spencer was indeed returning as a one off sketch for Sports Relief.
In July of 2017 it was reported that like other classics of the time Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em was to be made into a live stage version that would tour the country in 2018. Joe Paaquale will take on the iconic role but at the time of this post there were no further details available.
The story lines were little more than set-ups for a series of increasingly spectacular stunts. Many episodes begin with Frank at home with long-suffering wife, Betty. The comedy came from a mix of spectacular stunts coupled with Michael Crawford’s brilliant delivery of Frank, who however well meaning, just seemed to get on the wrong side of people.
For the final series, in 1978, changes were made to Frank’s character.
Becoming more self-aware, and keen to make himself seem better educated and well-spoken. He developed an air of pomposity which was always most evident when someone enquired ‘Mr Spencer?’ to which he would reply ‘I am he’.
He also became more self assured and whereas in the past when shouted at for doing something wrong he would have gone to pieces, he would now argue back, more often than not winning the argument. Though this was usually because he would leave his opponents dumbfounded by the bizareness of what he had to say.
It is thought that the reason for the change was the arrival of Daughter Jessica, as a Father he had to give some sort of aura of sense.
Frank Spencer – Michael Crawford
Betty Spencer – Michelle Dotrice
Raymond Allen (20 episodes, 1973–78)
Michael Crawford (7 episodes, 1978)
(13 episodes, 1973)
(7 episodes, 1978)
Directed By: Sydney Lotterby