The Bargee. Image shows from L to R: Hemel Pike (Harry H. Corbett), Christine Turnbull (Julia Foster). Image credit: Associated British Picture Corporation.

The Bargee

Meet Hemel Pike, the Casanova of the canals. Born on the waterways, he sees no downside to the aquatic life - but events could catch up with him

Genre:
Film
Released:
1964
Starring:
Harry H. Corbett, Hugh Griffith, Eric Sykes, Ronnie Barker, Julia Foster, Miriam Karlin, Eric Barker, Derek Nimmo, Norman Bird, Richard Briers, George A. Cooper
Writers:
Ray Galton, Alan Simpson
Production:
Associated British Picture Corporation

Hemel Pike loves his life on the canals and wouldn't have it any other way. Not only is he not tied down, but he has the luxury of a string of attractive women up and down the nation's waterways to call upon - it's a lifestyle that suits him just fine.

On one particularly troublesome journey from base in Brentford up to Birmingham however, the inevitable happens: one of his squeezes has fallen pregnant. With every other person he's met on the trip - including another regular girlfriend - enquiring about his future and settling on dry land, could this be a sign of the end of the waterways for the canal Casanova?

Our Review: Penned by writing team Alan Simpson and Ray Galton, best known for their TV work including Hancock's Half Hour, The Bargee sees them reunited with Steptoe & Son star Harry H. Corbett - clearly by 1964, the star knew exactly how to get the full effect from his writers' work, and they how to write to his strengths as a performer. This is a fine film, with a glint in the eye and cheeky grin all over it. It charts not just social change in Britain in the 1960s, but also the decline and change of heavy industry across the nation, and offers a small and highly amusing insight into a world that has now all but gone forever.