Sunday, 3 July 2011

Loving one's Neighbour!

This controversial 1970s sitcom caused more uproar than the laughs intended by writers Vince Powell and Harry Driver. It focused on and satirised the racial divides, stereotypes and prejudices of 1970s Britain, using two polar opposites as its main characters.

The premise was simple: the humorous scenarios caused when Bill Reynolds (Rudolph Walker), a black West Indian conservative, and his family move next door to the family home of Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst), a white English socialist bigot.

Like 'Till Death Do Us Part', the racism shown by both characters was meant to make people laugh at such prejudices, but the show ended up being labelled racist itself, due to its politically incorrect handling of such issues.

Love Thy Neighbour aired from 13 April 1972, until 22 January 1976, spanning seven series. The sitcom was produced by Thames Television and broadcast by ITV. The main cast included Jack Smethurst, Rudolph Walker, Nina Baden-Semper and Kate Williams. In 1973, the series was adapted into a film of the same name with a sequel series set in Australia.

The series was created and largely written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, and was based around a suburban white working class couple who unwittingly found themselves living next door to a black couple, and the white couple's attempts to come to terms with this. Love Thy Neighbour was hugely popular in the 1970s. During that era, Britain struggled to come to terms with its recently-arrived population of black immigrants, and Love Thy Neighbour exemplified this struggle. It aroused great controversy for many of the same reasons as the earlier Till death us do part.

The views of the white male character (Eddie Booth, played by Smethurst) were presented in such a way as to make him appear stupid and bigoted, and were contrasted with the more tolerant attitude of his wife. His use of terms such as nig-nog to refer to his black neighbour attracted c
onsiderable criticism from viewers.
The male black character was, in contrast educated and sophisticated, although stubborn and also capable of racism using the terms Honky, Snowflake, Paleface or Big White Chief to describe his white neighbour (often in response to being called "nig-nog" or "Sambo"). The series has since been repeated on satellite television stations in the UK, however, each episode begins with a warning about content at the start of each show. Repeats of the show are also shown in Australia on the Seven Network Digital channel. The theme song "Love Thy "Neighbour" was composed by Roger Webb and sung by Stuart Gillies.
Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst) is a white socialist. His world is turned on its head when Bill and Barbie Reynolds move in next door. He is even more annoyed when Bill gets a job at the same factory as him, and refers to him as a "nig-nog", "Sambo", "choc-ice" or "King Kong". He also has a tendency to call Chinese, Pakistanis or Indians names like "Fu Manchu", "Gunga Din" and "Ali Baba". He is a very devoted supporter of Manchester United Football Club. His catchphrases include "Bloody Nora!", "Knickers!", "The subject is closed", "you bloody nig-nog!" and "Get knotted!"

Joan Booth (Kate Williams) is Eddie's wife. She does not share her bigoted husband's opinion of their black neighbours, and is good friends with Barbie. Her catchphrases include "Don't be ridiculous!" and "Don't talk rubbish!". Played by Gwendolyn Watts in the Pilot Episode.

Bill Reynolds (Rudolph Walker) is a West Indian and a Conservative. Whenever Eddie tries to outdo him, Bill usually ends up having the last laugh. He occasionally refers to Eddie as a "white honky" and "snowflake", and doesn't like catching Eddie staring at his wife. He also has a very high-pitched laugh. His catchphrases include "Hey, honky!", "Cobblers!" and "You talking to me, snowflake?".

Barbie Reynolds (Nina Baden-Semper) is Bill's wife and gets along very well with her next door neighbour, Joan Booth. Eddie is sometimes fascinated by her, especially in the pilot episode when she bent over while wearing hot pants.
Love Thy Neighbour has been criticised for its politically incorrect handling of issues of race, although its writers have claimed that each episode included both anti-white and anti-black sentiment. It is often used as shorthand for television before the era of political correctness. Although both characters were bigoted and intolerant, Bill usually had the last laugh and rarely got his comeuppance.
Series One
  1. "New Neighbours" (Broadcast: 13 April 1972)
  2. "Limbo Dancing" (Broadcast: 20 April 1972)
  3. "The Petition" (Broadcast: 27 April 1972)
  4. "Factory Dispute" (Broadcast: 4 May 1972)
  5. "The Seven Year Itch" (Broadcast: 11 May 1972)
  6. "Refused A Drink" (Broadcast: 18 May 1972)
  7. "Sex Appeal" (Broadcast: 25 May 1972)
Series Two
  1. "The Housewarming Party" (Broadcast: 11 September 1972)
  2. "Voodoo" (Broadcast: 18 September 1972)
  3. "Clarky Leaves" (Broadcast: 25 September 1972)
  4. "The Bedroom Suite" (Broadcast: 2 October 1972)
  5. "The TUC Conference" (Broadcast: 9 October 1972)
  6. "Religious Fervour" (Broadcast: 16 October 1972)
Series Three
  1. "The G.P.O" (Broadcast: 19 March 1973)
  2. "The Car" (Broadcast: 26 March 1973)
  3. "Eddie Returns From Holiday" (Broadcast: 2 April 1973)
  4. "Lion And The Lamb" (Broadcast: 9 April 1973)
  5. "The Lift" (Broadcast: 16 April 1973)
  6. "Barbie Becomes Pregnant" (Broadcast: 30 April 1973)
Series Four
  1. "Hines' Sight" (Broadcast: 12 December 1973)
  2. "Friendly" (Broadcast: 19 December 1973)
  3. "Working On New Year's Eve" (Broadcast: 31 December 1973)
  4. "Eddie's Mother In Law" (Broadcast: 7 January 1974)
  5. "The Ante-Natal Clinic" (Broadcast: 14 January 1974)
  6. "Two Weeks To Babies" (Broadcast: 21 January 1974)
  7. "To The Hospital" (Broadcast: 28 January 1974)
Series Five
  1. "The Big Day" (Broadcast: 4 February 1974)
  2. "The Mediterranean" (Broadcast: 11 February 1974)
  3. "Bananas" (Broadcast: 18 February 1974)
  4. "Teething Problems" (Broadcast: 25 February 1974)
  5. "Cat's Away" (Broadcast: 4 March 1974)
  6. "Ghosts" (Broadcast: 11 March 1974)
  7. "Eddie's Birthday" (Broadcast: 18 March 1974)
  8. "April Fools" (Broadcast: 25 March 1974)

Series Six

1. "Reggie" (Broadcast: 2 January 1975)
2. "Jacko's Wedding" (Broadcast: 9 January 1975)
3. "Duel At Dawn" (Broadcast: 16 January 1975)
4. "The Darts' Final" (Broadcast: 23 January 1975)
5. "Royal Blood" (Broadcast: 30 January 1975)
6. "Club Concert" (Broadcast: 6 February 1975)
7. "The Nannies" (Broadcast: 13 February 1975)
Series Seven
  1. "Famous Crimes" (Broadcast: 17 April 1975)
  2. "The Lady And The Tramp" (Broadcast: 24 April 1975)
  3. "Protection Of The Law" (Broadcast: 1 May 1975)
  4. "The Opinion Poll" (Broadcast: 8 May 1975)
  5. "Manchester... United" (Broadcast: 15 May 1975)
  6. "The T.U.C Conference" (Broadcast: 22 May 1975)
  7. "Coach Trip" (Broadcast: 29 May 1975)
Series Eight
  1. "The Local By-Election" (Broadcast: 11 December 1975)
  2. "Eddie Becomes A Father Again" (Broadcast: 18 December 1975)
  3. "Christmas Spirit" (Broadcast: 25 December 1975)
  4. "The Coach Outing To Bournemouth" (Broadcast: 1 January 1976)
  5. "For Sale" (Broadcast: 8 January 1976)
  6. "Power Cut" (Broadcast: 15 January 1976)
  7. "The Lodger" (Broadcast: 22 January 1976)
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