Love Thy Neighbour Page 11

Love Thy Neighbour. Image shows from L to R: Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst), Joan Booth (Kate Williams), Barbie Reynolds (Nina Baden-Semper), Bill Reynolds (Rudolph Walker). Copyright: Thames Television.

Love Thy Neighbour

Pro-white socialist Eddie Booth is disgusted when a black couple move in next door - but far worse than his skin colour, Bill Reynolds is Conservative

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A Horseradish

  • Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 12:44pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 7,361 posts

As with "Till Death Us Do Part" and even "Don't Drink The Water", "Love Thy Neighbour" reflects two sides to standard approaches towards a lack of familiarity. Some characters - in this case the women - strive for a sense of commonality and universality and the others - here the men - principally perceive distinctions. Key to those "distinctions" was a belief in race and colour (and much the same was true in the 1970s of sexual orientation) as being a CHARACTERISTIC, with then assumed associated behaviours. Interestingly in neither stance/outlook is there much evidence of concepts of IDENTITY which became the principal emphasis later and largely sits between the two. Ultimately of the three, it is the women's (and in the case of "Till Death Us Do Part" the young people's) stance which is the genuine one and the purest in human terms.

Nevertheless it is a process. Emphasis on identity may well be a step forward from characterisation but it is also the other side of the coin from characterisation. That is, in terms of an almost territorial holding back from accepting common or universal purpose. This is to say that the advancing of the belief that the average white person benefited from Empire and was privileged is as fake (a century of real poverty without a benefits system, two World Wars, ongoing class inequality) as any belief that being black is so fundamental to identity that it equals being anything especially distinctive. In the main, the fake quality of each stance is not overtly malevolent in intention. Much of it derives from misunderstanding even when it comes with barbs, as in certain sitcoms which have acquired the status of notoriety. Or indeed even without that angle.

As a white man of a certain age, the likes of Lenny Henry (with whom I once played a bit of pool) and Meera Syal have helped me in recent years to learn where I personally got it wrong. I actually went out of my way to embrace racial changes in the 1970s and the 1980s but I did so because it came naturally via local personal interactions, it seemed to me to be morally right and racial difference when the numbers of people of ethnicity in my vicinity were minute was interesting to me like a spice is to life. What I didn't see clearly was any ethnic perspective on British culture. Now it seems blatantly obvious. I can see how stereotypical portrayal can be simplified and made insidious as no doubt it was.

Still. today's right always becomes tomorrow's wrong. It is worth bearing this in mind when we hear supposedly authoritative lines on anything from anyone in this, the third decade of the present century. Intelligent folk seek to anticipate what of the here and now will later be questioned or attacked. It is not that today's emphasis on the pursuance of additional rights by supposed categories of identity is inapt. But by necessity one notes that it inevitably comes with distortions and lacunas (eg ignoring that it is white working class males who do the least well at school, claiming that EU membership is the epitome of racial diversity when the membership of its Parliament is over 97% white : higher once the UK leaves it, or the embracing of virtual slave labour from Eastern Europe as something that is pretended to be benign).

Hence to a considerable extent it is in essence a generational overhang. While often noted most at the youthful end of culture it is ostensibly supported vocally and financially by the current middle aged. The ones who of all past generations have shown the least ability to think beyond what it was they experienced or accept that they are now the Establishment to be overturned. Such is inevitably the way at the higher echelons of the upwardly mobile. Unprecedented wealth, influence, celebrity, absence of wartime experience in younger age and luxury are all blinds on seeing clearly into self so at best they will be an uncertain spotlight in the round. There are exceptions. For an extremely classy, erudite and nuanced black perspective, I would very much welcome BCG interviewing Trix Worrell. I rate him extremely highly and consider him to have been more groundbreaking than is acknowledged, with and without the fiery help of the great Norman Beaton.

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A Horseradish

  • Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 1:16pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
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So, yes, the instincts in both the characterisation and identity focuses are understandable where true inequity exists as it did until the end of the last century. They point too to very real issues among increasingly assimilated minorities about marginal differences in personal power. Yet it is also worth pointing out that this is only so far as those relate to a sense of position in a consumer society where that sense represents more or less everything. Whether purportedly on the right or left of politics as politics is presented, the very debate revolves around a shallow acceptance of that structure, hook, line and sinker. Ironically that did emanate from Empire. Conversely, that the union jack or even the saltire should be hung from council house garages has always predominantly been little more than posturing. Such a thing represents a desire for a sense of secure and recognisable if also non-demanding order and an approximate pretence of significance claimed by proxy. It is much as such people also attach to football teams, the players of which are in a much higher league financially, even if both they and their fans, black or white, are now more than wealthy enough to be in ownership of a 4 X 4 or two.

By definition, given these complexities or, less kindly, this illogicality, there has to come a time when one looks back at the process to see how as a framework it isn't sustainable in the long term. Rather it requires a review into how and why what were originally large and are now residual emphases on characterisation and identity in these spheres have ever existed. Mainly it is about a human instinct that is ostensibly against homogenisation. It doesn't want the same shops in every high street. It would prefer that all radio and television stations did not have the same format. It can see the harmonious pluses which come from all commonality and universality but it senses that, with them, the interest in individual characterisation and identity are lost. And rather like seeing through a spell, what it also senses deep down of this new everyone-is-the-same convention is that everyone is under some sort of commonly applied though invisible external power and control. Such considerations therefore imply that race and colour or any similar large minority concern is and never has been in truth the fundamental issue. Social changes were merely a convenient peg on which to place human instinct itself.

By chance, the focus in the 1970s happened to be on people. Purely because of that chance phenomenon, rather tiny programmes like "Love Thy Neighbour" retain such potential clout that they are not to be broadcast, even if it means the process is rewritten in history to have been more cruel in intention than it ever was or even to have never occurred at all. As soon as one writes it, one can see the preposterous nature of it. What it does is inflate a not especially wonderfully or indeed awfully written sitcom to ludicrous proportions of meaning. As for "going forward", it would be useful to recognise that equally the focus could have been on technology. In fact, a technological focus is precisely where the focus will go once current middle aged "all authoritative" types have long departed. Computers have characteristics. Robots have identities. The latter of whatever colour or orientation will only function in grey blandness once we have had a decade of comedy about them which is subsequently banned. That's great news for the next two generations who will get off on it with endless rows. But for anyone who is now 60 and who manages to live to 110 it will be tiresome in the extreme.

PS Could someone at BCG use their good offices to get The Real McCoy released on DVD as the reason given for why it hasn't been is that there would not be enough interest in it. I'm interested in it and would definitely buy it. Surely the line given can be easily overturned on the grounds that it sounds distinctly racist even though it isn't intended to be. Ta!

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Wheel

  • Thursday 20th February 2020, 11:13pm
  • Wakefield, England
  • 260 posts

I love this. I really enjoyed watching it for the first time a few months back. Great characters, great setting. Everything about it I loved. Brilliant. One of my favourite sitcoms now.

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Billy Bunter

  • Monday 2nd March 2020, 12:25pm [Edited]
  • The Sussex Coast, England
  • 1,226 posts
Quote: Chris Hallam @ 21st January 2020, 9:23 AM

Mary Whitehouse a) certainly wasn't PC. Very much the opposite, in fact!

In fact Mary Whitehouse was, in many ways, PC ahead of her time. Many of the programmes she objected to 40+ years ago (Love thy Neighbour, Till Death, Benny Hill, The Goodies...) are no longer shown on TV mainly for those very PC reasons while some of her other campaigns - exploitation of women and children, anti-paedophilia & pornography - are all attitudes now largely taken very much for granted.

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Aaron

  • Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 10:33am
  • Royal Berkshire, England
  • 68,512 posts
Quote: Billy Bunter @ 2nd March 2020, 12:25 PM

In fact Mary Whitehouse was, in many ways, PC ahead of her time. Many of the programmes she objected to 40+ years ago (Love thy Neighbour, Till Death, Benny Hill, The Goodies...) are no longer shown on TV mainly for those very PC reasons while some of her other campaigns - exploitation of women and children, anti-paedophilia & pornography - are all attitudes now largely taken very much for granted.

Spot on. PC before PC was a thing. Albeit not always driven by the same base motive.

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paulted

  • Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 8:15pm [Edited]
  • 127 Inkerman Terrace, Newcastle, England
  • 602 posts

This was on TV when i was about 7 years old. I remember my grown up relatives laughing hysterically at it. I watched it myself recently out of curiosity. If you ignore the obvious racist elements of the show, it fails badly as a comedy. The "gags" are rather laboured a la On The Buses. The acting of some of the club/bar crew is awful. I'm not looking down my nose at the show with PC hindsight, its just naff compared to other sitcoms of its era like Porridge, Likely Lads, Rising Damp, The Good Life, and Dad's Army. It's no coincidence that all these shows all had superior acting talent to Love Thy Neighbour.

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Aaron

  • Tuesday 3rd March 2020, 8:27pm
  • Royal Berkshire, England
  • 68,512 posts
Quote: paulted @ 3rd March 2020, 8:15 PM

it fails badly as a comedy. The "gags" are rather laboured a la On The Buses.

That's what makes it so wonderful.

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john tregorran

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 3:08am
  • mornington,victoria, Australia
  • 990 posts

It's so bad it's now fashionably good sort of thing.Post-ironic?
You youngsters !

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chipolata

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 6:46am
  • England
  • 30,065 posts
Quote: Aaron @ 3rd March 2020, 8:27 PM

That's what makes it so wonderful.

You're basically admitting it's kitsch. Paulted's right, as a sitcom it's pretty dire, with little to recommend it critically, and it certainly doesn't hold a candle to the genuinely great comedies of the seventies.

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Chris Hallam

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 7:41am
  • Exeter, United Kingdom
  • 286 posts
Quote: Billy Bunter @ 2nd March 2020, 12:25 PM

In fact Mary Whitehouse was, in many ways, PC ahead of her time. Many of the programmes she objected to 40+ years ago (Love thy Neighbour, Till Death, Benny Hill, The Goodies...) are no longer shown on TV mainly for those very PC reasons while some of her other campaigns - exploitation of women and children, anti-paedophilia & pornography - are all attitudes now largely taken very much for granted.

Nope!
Nine times out of ten when people complain about things being 'PC' or 'PC attitudes,' it means one thing:
Somebody has complained because something is racist, homophobic or deeply offensive to most people, often because it is attacking or stereotyping a minority group.
People who go on and on about the 'PC brigade' generally are not known for their interest in respecting these feelings.
And Mary Whitehouse certainly didn't either.
As ex-Goodie, Tim Brooke-Taylor says:
"The most pornographic pieces around as far as I was concerned involved horrific violence, but Mrs Whitehouse didn't seem to mind that. Racially offensive stuff didn't bother her, either. She was worried about language, the human body and procreation. My character once had to say "bloody hell". I was made to redub it as "ruddy hell". The BBC acknowledged that this was the power of Mrs Whitehouse. It was afraid of her."

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Billy Bunter

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 2:48pm [Edited]
  • The Sussex Coast, England
  • 1,226 posts
Quote: Chris Hallam @ 4th March 2020, 7:41 AM

Nope!
Nine times out of ten when people complain about things being 'PC' or 'PC attitudes,' it means one thing:
Somebody has complained because something is racist, homophobic or deeply offensive to most people, often because it is attacking or stereotyping a minority group.
People who go on and on about the 'PC brigade' generally are not known for their interest in respecting these feelings.
And Mary Whitehouse certainly didn't either.
As ex-Goodie, Tim Brooke-Taylor says:
"The most pornographic pieces around as far as I was concerned involved horrific violence, but Mrs Whitehouse didn't seem to mind that. Racially offensive stuff didn't bother her, either. She was worried about language, the human body and procreation. My character once had to say "bloody hell". I was made to redub it as "ruddy hell". The BBC acknowledged that this was the power of Mrs Whitehouse. It was afraid of her."

In my experience, people who complain about PC do not do so because they lack empathy for any group of people supposedly affected as you imply; they do so because, more often than not, it has been initiated by a third party, often with an agenda of their own, on behalf of that group of people when the group in question has made no complaints whatsoever about the situation. Or it has been implemented by an authority merely in case they upset somebody. An example could be the re-naming of Christmas activities by certain bodies for fear of upsetting other religions.

In both these scenarios we see Mary Whitehouse at work. She complained about various TV programmes on behalf of the Great British public when the Great British public itself had no problem with those programmes, as witnessed by the viewing figures. And, as Tim Brooke-Taylor acknowledges in your quote, the authority (the BBC) acted merely because it was afraid. The public of the day complained about the pernicketiness and the power of Mary Whitehouse, and made her a laughing stock, in the same way as the anti-PC brigade (as you put it) complains, and makes jokes about, PC today.

It is true that many of her complaints were about bad language, which is not something that has transferred itself to PC today (which is why I said she was in many ways PC before her time rather than totally or even in the main). But bad language was not the reason behind her objections to Benny Hill, nor the driving force behind her anti-pornography campaigns and the like. And, as I say, her thoughts on these matters are very much accepted as PC today.

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Aaron

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 3:23pm
  • Royal Berkshire, England
  • 68,512 posts
Quote: chipolata @ 4th March 2020, 6:46 AM

You're basically admitting it's kitsch. Paulted's right, as a sitcom it's pretty dire, with little to recommend it critically, and it certainly doesn't hold a candle to the genuinely great comedies of the seventies.

There is a certain something to the likes of Porridge that give them a not-easily-definable additional quality, yes. An element of grit, of realism, of dealing with more substantive issues? Maybe.

But for pure laughs, entertainment value and uncomplicated joy, the lighter comedy of series such as Love Thy Neighbour and On The Buses are difficult to beat.

Quote: Billy Bunter @ 4th March 2020, 2:48 PM

In my experience, people who complain about PC do not do so because they lack empathy for any group of people supposedly affected as you imply; they do so because, more often than not, it has been initiated by a third party, often with an agenda of their own, on behalf of that group of people when the group in question has made no complaints whatsoever about the situation. Or it has been implemented by an authority merely in case they upset somebody. An example could be the re-naming of Christmas activities by certain bodies for fear of upsetting other religions.

In both these scenarios we see Mary Whitehouse at work. She complained about various TV programmes on behalf of the Great British public when the Great British public itself had no problem with those programmes, as witnessed by the viewing figures. And, as Tim Brooke-Taylor acknowledges in your quote, the authority (the BBC) acted merely because it was afraid. The public of the day complained about the pernicketiness and the power of Mary Whitehouse, and made her a laughing stock, in the same way as the anti-PC brigade (as you put it) complains, and makes jokes about, PC today.

It is true that many of her complaints were about bad language, which is not something that has transferred itself to PC today (which is why I said she was in many ways PC before her time rather than totally or even in the main). But bad language was not the reason behind her objections to Benny Hill, nor the driving force behind her anti-pornography campaigns and the like. And, as I say, her thoughts on these matters are very much accepted as PC today.

Spot-on.

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john tregorran

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 7:46pm
  • mornington,victoria, Australia
  • 990 posts

There's no mystery about it."Porridge" was much better written and acted.
"Love they neighbour" was just as much about gender as race.With the women trying to make their husbands see sense.The idea was good but not that well written IMO.

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paulted

  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 9:38pm
  • 127 Inkerman Terrace, Newcastle, England
  • 602 posts

A good comparison for illustrating the gulf between this show and Rising Damp is the portrayal of the black characters. Rudolph Walker (although a class performer) is pretty much given a script where has to be little more than a feed for Jack Smethhurst's awful delivery of his lines. In Rising Damp, Don Warrington is remarkably subtle and nuanced and is largely overlooked as a great straight man to Leonard Rossiter's colossal comic talent.

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Chris Hallam

  • Thursday 5th March 2020, 6:31am [Edited]
  • Exeter, United Kingdom
  • 286 posts
Quote: Billy Bunter @ 4th March 2020, 2:48 PM

In my experience, people who complain about PC do not do so because they lack empathy for any group of people supposedly affected as you imply; they do so because, more often than not, it has been initiated by a third party, often with an agenda of their own, on behalf of that group of people when the group in question has made no complaints whatsoever about the situation.

Are we really saying that ethnic minority groups had or have no complaints about shows like Love Thy Neighbour?
You don't have to be a member of a minority group to find racism or sexism or homophobia offensive anyway.
Conservative figures like Mary Whitehouse attacked shows for bad language or for containing sexual content and made frequent attacks on homosexuality. She never criticised anything for being racist. As with most of those who decry supposed 'political correctness' today, she didn't care about racism or sexism. She upheld homophobic views herself.
She has far more in common with today's critics of PC than she does with the 'PC brigade' herself.