Man About the House

Jo, Robin and Chrissy from Man About the House (Sally Thomsett, Richard O'Sullivan and Paula WilcoxI was watching the comedy channel the other night and Man About the House came on. It took me right back! I remember more clearly Robin’s Nest and George and Mildred (both spin-offs for MAtH sharing the characters). 

I probably wasn’t allowed to watch the original program as it was considered quite risqué. Watching it in reruns is quite funny because it doesn’t seem daring at all, but at the time two single women sharing a flat with a single man was the height of decadence. In this interview Sally Thomsett agrees that it’s quite tame by today’s standards.

Chrissy, Robin and Jo from Man About the House (Paula Wilcox, Richard O'Sullivan and Sally ThomsetMy favourite character in this show was Mildred, the older married woman who was a bit of a lush and obviously sexually frustrated (seen here with husband George).

The comedy mostly arose from the innuendos bounded around regarding the relationships between the flatmates. Also the convoluted situations they get into when trying to bring home potential partners to the shared flat.

I can’t imagine any of this is as funny these days when students regularly share in mixed gender environments, but somehow it still seems to work as comedy because everyone is so prudish. Robin is explained away as being gay, or a brother or just a visitor and he ends up borrowing his friend’s flat upstairs to take a girl home. Oh dear. The titles also show some astounding sexism.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


The Worm That Turned

The fabulous Diana Dors with the Two Ronnies in The Worm that TurnedThe Two Ronnies show featured a short film series within the regular sketch show. One of these was a spoof sci-fi The Worm That Turned, this was 1980 but I’m thinking of it as Seventies. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. Those leather hotpants are pure Seventies.

A highlight for my fevered prepubescent lesbian imagination was the fabulous Diana Dors as the leader of the all-female secret police. There was something about her which was so amazing, had me on the edge of my seat. It is entirely possible that my love of leather came from this experience. Certainly it was the first time I’d seen it worn like this. The other policewomen were cute too, but it was Diana Dors that I loved because she was so over the top and seemed to relish in the comedy.

The Two Ronnies play two men who are forced to adopt female names and wear dresses, like all men in this bizarre world, but who have set up a resistance against the domination of women. According to Wikipedia, this dystopic future was first postulated as a Doctor Who episode.

The Worm That Turned was a backlash against feminism, but at the same time it could be read as a feminist text because subverting the stereotyped male/female roles in a way highlights the ridiculousness of any gender being the underdog. On the other hand, the uniforms that the police squads wear are an obvious excuse for objectification.

As well as being a good excuse to look at bums and make sexist jokes, there was some great non-sexist comedy. For instance in this clip, watch out for the cow that doesn’t belong to the rest of the herd (at around 3 mins).

I wish I could find more footage. I remember a scene where Diana Dors wore the leather suit usually worn by her subordinates instead of the official general’s uniform, which she’s wearing in the picture above. She was interviewing the leaders of the rebellion and was tapping her hand with a riding crop while walking up and down behind them.

Or maybe that was a dream I had.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Brotherhood of Man

Brotherhood of Man in the SeventiesDoes anyone know why the Brotherhood of Man had two women in it? I never understood that as a child, why wasn’t it the Siblinghood of People? Or if it were the Brotherhood of Man then it should all be men, shouldn’t it? Of course, the whole ‘two men two women’ thing was modelled on Abba and of course there’s the Eurovision connection.

For years I thought that the BofM Angelo song was by Abba (theirs was Fernando with a very similar tune and story and according to Wikipedia BofM got into trouble about that). Both of them are about a girl and a boy eloping and running away together. I’ve just listened to Angelo again on YouTube and it’s really sad, so that’s probably why I didn’t like it much as a child.

My favourite BofM song and one of my favourite Seventies songs altogether is Save all Your Kisses for Me which was the one they entered and won the 1976 Eurovision song contest. The original Seventies lineup are still touring, and now have a ‘Seventies Show’ special (see their website).

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Niki Lauda the Real F1 Hero

Kim P Moody watches Formula One Racing

Well done to Lewis Hamilton for winning the 2008 F1 World Championship, with McLaren, and his ensuing MBE. We won’t mention his friends in the Toyota team …

Niki Lauda leading the 1976 Formula One title raceBut back in the 70s we had real F1 heroes, like Niki Lauda. Lauda’s first F1 race was the Austrian Grand Prix in 1971, driving for the STP March Racing Team. He didn’t get his first race win until the 1974 Spanish Grand Prix when he was driving for Ferrari.

He won his first World Championship in 1975, but his most spectacular year was 1976, again with Ferrari. By the end of the ninth round of the 76 season, the British Grand Prix, Lauda had twice as many points as his nearest rival. His run of success came to a sudden halt on the second lap of round ten, the German Grand Prix, at the long Nurburgring circuit.

Lauda’s car spun off the circuit with a suspected mechanical failure. It hit an embankment, rolled back onto the track and was struck by the Surtees-Ford driven by Brett Lunger. The Ferrari burst into flames and Lauda was trapped. Other drivers ran to his aid and pulled him from the burning wreck. He suffered severe burns to his head, and his lungs were damaged by hot, toxic gases. Although he could stand after the crash, he later fell into a coma. His condition was so bad that the worst was feared and a priest administered the last rites.

Niki Lauda in signature red capLauda returned to the track just six weeks later, having missed only two races, and finished forth in the Italian Grand Prix. James Hunt had reduced Lauda’s lead and won the championship by one point. Because of his determination and courage, Lauda is regarded as one of the bravest people in Formula 1.

Lauda won the championship again in 1977, and retired in 1979 to operate his charter airline. In 1982 he returned to F1 and won his third world title in 1984. Lauda has only ever had sufficient reconstructive surgery to get his eyelids to close, and now he is always seen in public wearing a red cap to cover the scars on his head. At the end of 1985 he retired again and returned to running Lauda Air. In 2001/2002 he managed the ill fated Jaguar F1 team.