It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by JWG »

I may have got this wrong but just in case: the existence of a tradition/industry of self-criticism in the UK does not prove that this country is more racist,fascist,etc. than every other country in the world.The Left,while valuing every culture,also believe in a Whig or uni-linear model of history.As we get closer and closer to the end of history,so progressive Westerners believe that they approach a closer understanding of moral truth.In this view foreign nations can sometimes teach us lessons,(usually Scandinavian countries.And France),while the Third World is backward.So it's not really an equal-opportunities multicultural view after all.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Doom Patrol »

Actually the whole point of Michael Bates, it seems to me, is to be able to send up that curious Indian Britishness in a mildly subversive manner. I'm just putting it out there, because I've no firm views on the matter either way, but would an actual Indian actor have got the joke?

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by JWG »

Doom Patrol wrote:Actually the whole point of Michael Bates, it seems to me, is to be able to send up that curious Indian Britishness in a mildly subversive manner. I'm just putting it out there, because I've no firm views on the matter either way, but would an actual Indian actor have got the joke?
I can agree with your first point.I seem to remember,though I could be wrong,that there are points where some of the characters realise that even if they win against the Japanese,it's all over as far as the Raj is concerned.
On the second point,I strongly disagree.Any Indian or British-Asian actor would have surely learn't enough history formally and informally,to get the point.

I can't resist mentioning two other instances of Blackface of which everyone here would surely approve: the two versions of 'If there weren't any Blacks...'.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381269/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2 (1968) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1642621/?ref_=tt_trv_cnn (1974).
'Watermelon Man' is the only thing I can remember with an actor in Whiteface,and since it's a movie,it doesn't count...

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Mickey
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Mickey »

JWG wrote:The Left,while valuing every culture,also believe in a Whig or uni-linear model of history.As we get closer and closer to the end of history,so progressive Westerners believe that they approach a closer understanding of moral truth.
That's an odd generalisation. The Whig view of history has always seemed to me more of a conservative trait than a leftist one, but at any rate, anybody who has studied history would dismiss it out of hand. I suspect that any association it has with a liberal bias is centuries old, and has no bearing on a modern leftist or liberal. It has such a smug, dismissive attitude towards old cultures and ideas, which isn't very modern liberal at all.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Doom Patrol »

JWG wrote:On the second point,I strongly disagree.Any Indian or British-Asian actor would have surely learn't enough history formally and informally,to get the point.
I dare say they would on a quite literal level. My point, as much as I understand it, is that it's an English man playing an Indian who is making fun of our own preconceptions of comical Indian people. The fact that we all know that surely takes it in the direction of self mockery. I'm not sure I can get all that worked up about It Ain't Half Hot Mum or Dad's Army being remotely offensive to anybody. They both seem to be under scored by an affection for the characters.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by JWG »

Mickey wrote:
JWG wrote:The Left,while valuing every culture,also believe in a Whig or uni-linear model of history.As we get closer and closer to the end of history,so progressive Westerners believe that they approach a closer understanding of moral truth.
That's an odd generalisation. The Whig view of history has always seemed to me more of a conservative trait than a leftist one, but at any rate, anybody who has studied history would dismiss it out of hand. I suspect that any association it has with a liberal bias is centuries old, and has no bearing on a modern leftist or liberal. It has such a smug, dismissive attitude towards old cultures and ideas, which isn't very modern liberal at all.
The trouble is that much of traditional culture,in its attitude towards women/the family,animal welfare,human rights,etc.,are often counter to modern liberal ideas.In fact,it could seem that the two are incompatible.Inasmuch as the Left are opposed to the status quo it's useful for them to play up different
patriarchal modes of life.In the long term,they regard all religions as absurd.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by rhystp »

ian b wrote:The last BBC repeat run of IAHHM was back in 1984, when thirteen selected episodes from series one, two and four were rebroadcast.

AQUASTARS was a Comedy Classic in 1985, and THE ROAD TO BANNU and THE LAST WARRIOR got repeats in 1995.
Lofty's Little Friend was repeated on BBC2 on 2 September 2000 as part of the I Love the 70s programming where each year was preceded by a comedy repeat (think The Goodies might have had a repeat for one of the years)

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Considering the concentration on Bates, I'm surprised nobody's invoked Curry and Chips and Spike Milligan yet....
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Mike S »

Curry and Chips is a textbook example of a show which completely undermines any satirical potential it might have (the character dynamic is quite interesting after all) by being absolutely bloody awful.

I always cite the Doctor in Charge episode 'The Black and White Medical Show' (written by Garden and Oddie) as an example of racist attitudes being pilloried in an intelligent, well-written and funny way in a mainstream sitcom. It can be done, but it needs very focused writing, and that's not Perry and Croft's strong point.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by ian b »

rhystp wrote:Lofty's Little Friend was repeated on BBC2 on 2 September 2000 as part of the I Love the 70s programming where each year was preceded by a comedy repeat (think The Goodies might have had a repeat for one of the years)
Quite right - I remembered that after posting, but didn't get around to adding it.

(No GOODIES for the I LOVE... run, though as it has spanned the decade it was suggested that an ep from each year could accompany the main programme - and at least one year didn't get a comedy repeat at all.)

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by JWG »

I see that 'Jonah From Tonga' is coming out on DVD on 16th June.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by marsey »

My understanding of the series is that all the British army are bumbling fools, and the only ones with any intelligence are their Indian 'inferiors'. That doesn't seem very racist to me.

As for DA poking fun at the 'upper classes' , well the only one with any sense is Wilson, and he's the only constant 'posh' charcater.

It's dificult (and perhaps unfair) to judge a 40 year old comedy by today's moral standards. How many people back then decried tv shows as racist? And how many complained about sexism? (from what I've seen 90% of 60/70s tv was sexist by today's standards).Who's to say in another 40 years that comedy about age/weight/social class etc may be seen as heinous?

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by GarethR »

marsey wrote:My understanding of the series is that all the British army are bumbling fools, and the only ones with any intelligence are their Indian 'inferiors'. That doesn't seem very racist to me
Ranji Ram is indeed the shrewdest character in the series while he's in it, but unfortunately it's difficult to see past the head-bobbing "oh by crikey sahib" 70s Indian stereotype. The Indian head-bob is a genuine piece of body language that has numerous subtle differences of meaning, and I see it every day here in Dubai, but when I see an actor do it in a British sitcom from the 70s it's hard not to think of Jim Davidson or Bernard Manning doing a routine about "Pakis" who go "bud-bud-bud".

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

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Mike S wrote:I rewatched the first episode of IAHHM on YouTube out of curiosity and it really is bloody awful. Too scattershot to work as a serious satire of imperialist attitudes etc, but too feeble to work as an enjoyable piece of silliness either. I'd genuinely rather watch Oh Dr Beeching...
I just watched the first episode on DVD and I would agree that Oh Dr Beeching has probably better plots. There was a weakish ending to Episode 1 of IAHHM with Windsor Davies getting muck on his shirt. I will watch the rest, now and again, as Windsor Davies and Don Estelle have a lot of good humorous bits as I vaguely remember, and the duo got into the charts. So I hope some of it is enjoyable silliness.
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by brigham »

It Ain't Half Hot Mum is just Dad's Army on a different front. It was one of the few occasions where my father would comment on his own wartime experience, he having served (as an 'erk') in India towards the end of 'the duration'.

His comment was usually along the lines of: "That's how the daft buggers went on".

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Post by Private Frazer »

Watched four now and plenty of silliness when the troupe fall in. The Seargent's threat that "I’ll have you posted back up that jungle so fast your feet won’t touch the ground!" is certainly the story so far. Dad's Army episodes, by comparison, are pretty much stand-alone.
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by stanbutler »

I love IAHHM, it's more end-of-the-pier farce than DA's slapstick and character stuff but there still a good bunch of characters in this with some subtler moments, the very last episode is lovely, as is the developing relationship between the SM and Parkin when SM Williams think he is the boys father, and the laughs from the double-act of Williams and Lofty. But for me it's Captain Ashwood's upper-class twit that I most enjoy. Dad's Army may be better written, but I find the farce of this and 'Allo 'Allo more to my taste for more laughs per episode.

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Post by Mark »

I really like "IAHHM", as well, one of my favourite episodes is "The Road To Bannu", one of the very early ones, in fact I preferred the early series, before they were posted up the jungle, although the series was consistently funny throughout it's run, and I agree about the last one, it was very touching, beautifully written.

"Beeching" is excellent, but probably my least favourite, I rate "You Rang M' Lord", much higher, great characters and very well done.
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by billo »

I used to work in an office with an Indian lady, she, her husband (a Maths professor at the local college) and her two grown daughters were all well educated with a great sense of humour - she told me they all loved IAHHM, and they certainly were not offended by it or Michael Bates starring role in it

She told me the Indian characters reminded them of types they knew back home !

we both agreed it was a hilarious show, and we agreed how EVERYONE in it was being 'sent up' - from the 'bumbling' upper class British officers ('er what do you think Ashwood...?' - 'er bit of a tricky one Sir !') to the infuriated Welsh Sgt ( who had it in for all...except the lad he thought was his son ! - 'fine pair of shoulders lad show 'em off !')
to the diminutive 'Lofty' forever being picked on...and Gloria !
while Mr. Lah De Dah Gunner Graham with his 'Huniversity Heducation' also was mocked, plus a Scot who was all moany...and an Englishman forever stuffing his face

indeed the only non 'charicature' character (George Layton's bit of a lad Solly) was not replaced when he dropped out

the British class system was mercilessly but gently made fun of - ALL classes, while their Indian friends similarly were caricatured too - Michael Bates leading character thinking he was 'one of us British' showed a snobbery worthy of upper class British any day - while the others and guest Indian characters were also caricatured - I recall a very full of his own importance Indian official who turned up wanting the British to apologise left, right, and centre....then they had the football match the British were told they had to LOSE (to the Sgt's fury)

Even the Americans once got the rise taken out of them too - guest Ed Bishop's Yank film Director (repeatedly saying re Gloria begging for bit parts- 'hey, will ya get this fairy outta my hair ?')
....while his BIG cheesey grinning American 'star' was forever saying; 'Yup !'

so all were parodied, sent up, and shown to be less than er magnificent in this comedy in the days before people became so hysterically 'PC'

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Private Frazer »

These early episodes are taking off for comedy starting with some regular things developing. The seargent's "shut-up" is one, becoming timed to perfection. Also Lofty is the volunteer - being the one to faint because he's nearest the ground, or sent for help in the The Road To Bannu on the excuse that his hat is the best (despite not minding lending it). He sets out so hopelessly. The Michael Bates character is a laugh especially when the seargent tells him to get out, as he's always delighted or finds it a pleasure . I love the ploy because he usually gets what he wants, but he gets sent up too as in The Road To Bannu when having to accept the situation of his mother-in-law travelling on the roof of the train and then having to try and feed her. But he then explains why Solly's advice about turning the chappati sideways is not so helpful either! So yes, all the characters (but not so much poor Lofty) are being sent up.
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by marsey »

Just watched the last episode ; don't think I saw it first time around. Very sad ending and makes you think of all the war heroes coming home and being treated without the dignity they deserved.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by murphy1961 »

Without quoting them, I pretty much agree with the three posts above.

It Ain't Half Hot Mum is something I've watched since the early days of it's broadcast, but I never really rated it that high, particularly when compared to Dad's Army, but as time moves on I think the "gap" between the two is closing, and although it won't top or even equal DA in my mind, it doesn't really matter as it's not a contest. To me it's like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. Both shows were similar in that they lost a prominent cast member part way through the run and I don't think either show was quite the same after that, but they were still very good though. I actually think both shows, if anything, get better with age despite their ubiquity.

About three weeks ago I watched the final series of IAHHM on DVD and I don't recall ever seeing those episodes before, I didn't realise it ended like that. Amongst other things one thing Croft & Perry were good at was poignant endings of their TV series, obviously Dad's Army and It Ain't Half Hot Mum, but also Hi-De-Hi.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Mark »

Private Frazer wrote:. Also Lofty is the volunteer - being the one to faint because he's nearest the ground, or sent for help in the The Road To Bannu on the excuse that his hat is the best (despite not minding lending it). He sets out so hopelessly..
That's a great moment, very funny...poor ol' Lofty.

Also , agree with murphy1961, about Croft and Perry's series endings, they got the balance right, funny and sad, perfect.

That moment, in the final, when Williams, holds his demob suit, he seems so lost and sad, brilliantly done.
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by robinsmith »

Mike S wrote:"We would have been delighted to use Indian actors, if we could have found any. This was the first BBC sitcom even to be set outside Britain, and we did not live in a multicultural society in the Seventies (the series ran from 1974 to 1981)."

Yes, multicultural Britain began in 1982 apparently.
Michael Bates was born in India, as was Spike Milligan and Cliff Richard etc, so to be pedantic an Indian actor WAS used in an Indian role.

BTW, I love AHHM, I think it's as good as other series by Croft/Perry.

I consider it part of the trilogy based on Perry's early carrer, he was in the home guard as a youth (Dads Army), went to Burma and was in the concert party (AHHM), then joined the Butlin's redcoats after the war (Hi De Hi).
I'm sure Pike and Spike are based in him, or at least his position in the ensemble, don't think there's a Jimmy Perry character in AHHM.
I for one appreciate those shows for showing us little bits of history that many of us may not have known about.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by robinsmith »

marsey wrote:Just watched the last episode ; don't think I saw it first time around. Very sad ending and makes you think of all the war heroes coming home and being treated without the dignity they deserved.
I agree, the final two episodes are incredibly good, and did you spot Jonathan Ross in the background?

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by GarethR »

robinsmith wrote: Michael Bates was born in India, as was Spike Milligan and Cliff Richard etc, so to be pedantic an Indian actor WAS used in an Indian role
It's a bit of a stretch to call him an "Indian actor".

Ranji Ram was such a key character that he *had* to be performed by someone with extensive comedy acting experience, and I can believe that in 1974 Michael Bates was the best choice, given his background. And he was the only person in the cast playing someone of a different ethnicity, it's not like it was some kind of offshoot of the B&WMS.

IAHHM has always had a stronger resonance for me than Dad's Army, simply because my Dad did his National Service in Malaya (as was) during the Malayan Emergency, and so he told us stories of being in sweltering camps very much like that seen in the Burma episodes.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by Brian F »

Also I think I read somewhere that Michael Bates was the only actor born in India playing an Indian. The others being children of immigrants.

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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by GarethR »

Not quite; Dino Shafeek was born in what's now Bangladesh.

Babar Bhatti was born in Finchley. Stuart McGugan says that Michael Bates spoke better Urdu than Bhatti and frequently corrected his pronunciation and grammar.

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Post by Spiny Norman »

It Ain't Half Hot Mum - Two of the episodes from S1 survive only as off-air VHS (recorded in Australia in 1988, with some cuts unfortunately - oh dear, how sad).

But how and when did they get lost in the first place?

I'm asking because it's very likely now that a Dutch channel still showed them in 1990. And they must have almost certainly gotten new copies from the BBC to do so.
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Re: It Ain't Half Un-PC Mum...

Post by paul.austin »

Funny that Garden and Oddie should be mentioned, given that episode of the Goodies on religion where one of the trio blacks up to play a Muslim. I, um, do not watch that episode any more...

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