The Great Racist Debate

During the 1960’s and more so the 1970’s, television was getting very exciting.  The race to provide comedy on TV was on and it seemed all subjects were fair game, even race.

Till Death Do Us Part

Good old Alf, when he got on his high horse it was no holds barred he disliked everybody, darling Harold (Wilson), the bloody trotski, marxist, Labour party, the coons.  Alf new it all.  The program itself  addressed racial and political issues at a difficult time in British society.

Some people found the series uncomfortable and disturbing,  oblivious to the fact that Johnny Speight (the writer) was satirising racialist attitudes.   The show became one of several held up by Mary Whitehouse as an example of the BBC’s moral laxity.

However even though today we know that kind of comedy will never be re- created, it just wouldn’t be allowed, we accept that Alf’s opinions are extreme and just that, opinions, we laugh at him rather than with him and it is the skill of Johnny Speight’s writing skills that there is always someone there to balence the equation and pull him down.  Whether it be the ‘Silly Moo’ asking some silly question or Son -In -Law Mike who is always on hand to defend the workers and put accross the other side with his support for socialism and the Labour Party.



Love Thy Neighbour

One of the most controversial sitcoms ever to hit our screens and never repeated it dealt with two neighbours who were complete opposites in every way.

Again people got offended, but why? clearly they latched on to the opinions of the Eddie Booth character, who, like Alf Garnett was racist and Conservative, but here the comedy came from the constant one up man ship of the two neighbours.  For every racist comment and action from Eddie, Bill went one better always coming off best, never more so than in the film spin off where Bill recruits a group of black workers to assist him in a little prank on Eddie.  They dress up as African natives to pretend they have reverted back to the ways of the jungle and Eddie is on the menu, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and proof again that these “so called” offensive sitcoms that are not allowed to grace our screens were actually a work of genius that balanced the humour equally.



Mind Your Language

Take a group of students from all countries and religions and let them fight among themselves and the race argument becomes very difficult.



ITV’s first colour sitcom caused an uproar

Offensive or just harmless fun?  Perhaps we have just changed as a society and comedy may never be the same again.

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One Response

  1. William Chivers

    I’m Quite Impressed by this latest post on…. especially on the long-ongoing subject of Race in Situation Comedy, of the Past.

    Although msot fo these Classic TV Sitcoms where Quite Hilariously Funny, let alone Popular one-time… Although some were in-fact rather Racist, Reflecting the times these tv sitcom classics (such as Till Death Us Do Part, Love Thy Neighbour, Mind Your Language, even It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) were made, during a now long condemned era, of way before political correctness came about, for the better.

    Being a fan of Classic Comedy (including Sketch, Satire & Situation, both British & American)… I myself in-fact… Got some of these sitcoms, including Love Thy Neighbour, Mind Your Language, Perry & Croft’s It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, let alone Curry & Chips, on DVD… still Aim to collect Till Death s Do Part & In Sickness & In Health on DVD though).

    Pity some are no longer, nor ever allowed (to do so) repeated on tv screens, as most are politically incorrect & reflect a now long since condemned era of how foolish both the BBC & ITV got away with such a thing.

    I for one still think we ought to look back on these old racist comedy classics, to see what we could all learn from, and aalso how we could reinvent and avoid what came their way all thsoe years ago, during 2nd half of 20th century.


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