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Thread: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

  1. #1

    Default Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    If watching a scrawny, perpetually confused looking man blunder through life, continuously breaking things, getting stuck in various objects or starting a domino-chain of catastrophes is your bag, then you are probably a huge fan of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. To be fair to its lead actor, Michael Crawford was a superb physical comedian (I say was; he's a pensioner now but I have no idea if he is still capable of hanging from his car's exhaust over the edge of a cliff) and without his skill and impeccable timing the show wouldn't have had half the appeal that it did. An apt description of the main character Frank Spencer would be a childlike, slightly camp bundle of nervous energy who occasionally wore a beret. Accident-prone he may have been but he was at heart a lovely man. Kind and always eager to please, if you could have met him whilst he was tied down securely to his chair and therefore incapable of touching anything then you could have had a nice conversation with him and walk away afterwards, unharmed. Unfortunately this kind of restraint wasn't imposed on Frank and therefore anybody who came into contact with him was constantly at risk. Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em ran for three series, with the central theme throughout being Frank's inability to stay employed and the knack of being able to destroy his environment completely within five minutes of arriving in it. Betty Spencer (Michele Dotrice) was Frank's wife - and one can only imagine Betty was doped up on some heavy duty tranquilisers throughout their marriage. Nice Frank may have been, but living with him and his constant sackings, not to mention his DIY disasters and ability to inadvertently ruffle the feathers of the most placid people, must have surely been enough to send most normal wives completely round the twist. Betty did generally appear to be perpetually on the edge of a panic attack because of her husband's incompetence at any kind of socially interaction, but she would always stand by Frank when he was facing the repercussions of his actions. Spencer infuriated neighbours, bosses, driving instructors, doctors, his brother-in-law, his mother-in-law and many more, but somehow the scripts ensured that the audience was always on his side, even when he was at his most hapless. This was emphasised throughout by his obvious love for Betty and his desperate intentions to do the right thing, but even more so at the end of the second series when Frank became a father - his adoration for daughter Jessica made his hopelessness at everything else fade into the background. And so, the stunts. Obviously the most famous of them all is the roller skate fiasco, which sees Frank somehow manage to skate out of a rink (crashing through the closed doors of course) and then go on a non-stop, uncontrollable journey through the town, down a spiral staircase, hanging off the back of a bus, in and out of traffic, ending up head first in a cot after crashing through a baby shop. As well as this Frank was ejected through a church roof, catapulted in through an office window after being knocked off his motorbike by a car park barrier, and turned into a firework display at a holiday camp. What made the stunts even more remarkable is that Crawford performed them all himself, so when you review his roller skating journey you look with fresh respect at the 'down the hill and under the lorry' part of it. Interestingly the BBC originally wanted either Norman 'Mr Grimsdale' Wisdom or Ronnie Barker (The Two Ronnies, Open All Hours) to play Frank - Wisdom was unavailable, and despite Barker's immense talent for comedy it's hard to imagine him performing the physical aspects of the show in the same way as Crawford. Barker himself felt the same way, and turned the show down for that very reason. Crawford had been appearing in the stage show No Sex Please, We're British, playing a chief cashier whose characteristics he later developed into Spencer. His performance in the play led the BBC to ask him to take the title role in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. His unique abilities soon made the role his own, and proved an absolute dream to variety show impressionists of the time. Spencer's mannerisms and catchphrases (plus his trench coat and the aforementioned beret) were a staple of any impersonator's act in the late 70s and 80s, although the saying that has come to represent him more than any other ('Oooh Betty') was only ever said in one episode. Far more common was the shakily said 'Ooooh', whilst holding a finger up to his mouth - which normally came as he surveyed the aftermath of the chaos he had just created - and him having 'a bit of trouble', which was obviously a frequent occurrence. 'Ooooh' also made an appearance whenever anybody said anything even vaguely suggestive; Frank's wide-eyed naivety meant he was easily embarrassed. The first series of seven episodes broadcast from 15 February until 29 March 1973, with the second set of six coming in November and December of the same year. 1974 and 75 saw two Christmas specials, with the first involving much hilarity as Frank involved himself in a local nativity play and the second featured a guest appearance from David Jacobs as a presenter of a DIY show, and Frank trying to pass his driving test (again) by careering into the sea. All good festive pandemonium. Series three came along in the November of 1978, starting with the Spencer family moving to a new house, and ending in December with the prospect of them emigrating to Australia, to live on a farm with Frank's grandfather (played by Australian actor and comedian Dick Bentley). A final Christmas special that year rounded off the show, featuring the frightening prospect of Frank taking flying lessons. Michael Crawford had by then decided that he wanted to move away from the character of Frank Spencer and whilst he then went on to the acrobatic delights of Barnum, and his award-studded role in The Phantom of the Opera, is there anybody who will remember him more fondly for anything other than the loveable child Frank Spencer?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    a superb show but norman wisdom was meant for the role of frank.
    pity there where not more episodes but no matter how much i watch it it never ceases to make me titter.
    FOR THE HONOUR OF GRAYSKULL

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    I really like it, I managed to get the box set 2nd hand off a friend a couple of years ago.

    The episode with the screenwriter somehow never managed to make any of the repeats from the late 1980s onwards, or I just managed to miss it each time.

    There were plans for a 4th series but Michael Crawford didn't want to by typecast, & had reservations about making the 3rd, which is why there was a big gap between series.
    The Trickster On The Roof

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    Not a fan. Michael Crawford in that role made me cringe. I never found it funny. Even worse was the myriad of Frank Spencer impersonations by all and sundry in its hey day. At least we don't get that any more!
    1976 Vintage

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    never ceases to make me laugh.

    the screen writer episode has been on tv and has it been included on any dvd release mate.
    it had a very good guest cast as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard1978 View Post
    I really like it, I managed to get the box set 2nd hand off a friend a couple of years ago.

    The episode with the screenwriter somehow never managed to make any of the repeats from the late 1980s onwards, or I just managed to miss it each time.

    There were plans for a 4th series but Michael Crawford didn't want to by typecast, & had reservations about making the 3rd, which is why there was a big gap between series.
    FOR THE HONOUR OF GRAYSKULL

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    Quote Originally Posted by darren View Post
    never ceases to make me laugh.

    the screen writer episode has been on tv and has it been included on any dvd release mate.
    it had a very good guest cast as well.
    I know it's on DVD, I must have missed it each time it's been on TV in the last 25 years.

    It's a good show to play "Been In Dr Who" with.
    The Trickster On The Roof

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    Michael Crawford was totaly amazing as the "Hapless frank spencer" in this. Series 1 and 3 was excellent (or rather Series 3 was better than Series 2 I am tempted to say, but Series 1 was totaly ground-breaking!

    My own qalm is not more Episodes/Series' (par the Sport relief Mini Episode) in 2016 was made. As well as Michael doing all his own stunts -being amazing and highly not being allowed these days due to Red Tape Burachrats, the casting was superb too right down to 1/2/3 Episode characters played by the callibre of Richard Wilson, Jeahn Boht, george A Cooper, Christopher Bigins to name but a few!!

    The casting of Jessica as a Baby too was really well linked in with the first and only scences of Jessica as a young-middle aged lady in 2016 I think. Just look at Jessica as Baby to see how the woved her into a character grown up is agreat example

    80sChav

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    Would have loved to have had a feature film spin off of Some Mothers - that would have worked quite well.

    Was it true that Ronnie Barker was one of the actors considered for playing Frank Spencer? I can't really see it myself. I thought that Norman Wisdom would have been a good choice considering the "Mr Grimsdale" thing that he did which was very similar.

    I know that there is a touring production of Some Mothers at some theatres at the moment with Joe Pasquale as Spencer - now that is something that sounds interesting.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    The baby who played Jessica (I think she was called Emma someone, and is obviously now grown up of course) was interviewed on a BBC 1 show presented by Gaby Roslin in the late 1990s or early 2000s - I think that it was called TV's Greatest Hits or something? It made me think of all those babies that appeared in nappy commercials in the 1980s and 1990s and are all grown up now. Michael Portillo appeared as a baby in a Ribena commercial, didn't he?

    There was also a baby featured in an episode of Rising Damp, and unless it was a doll, it made me think that the baby would be older than myself if she is still around. Sobering thought.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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    Default Re: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

    There is an episode in which Richard Wilson (aka Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave) plays a insurance rep who visits Frank's house. Both Frank and Betty are sitting on a sofa. When the insurance rep takes a seat beside them, he sinks deep into the settee. Betty starts laughing and had to hide her face from the audience and camera. Frank struggled to keep a straight face. Richard could not follow suit and started to giggle.

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