133. Pink

Tapehead no 133

Channel 4 remains devoted to their remit to inflict unwanted theme nights on unsuspecting minorities, as this weekend’s Sitcom Weekend proves. 

“Strap into your favourite comedy sofa,” they say, sounding like Tapehead’s favourite dominatrix.

There are some good points: episodes of On The Buses, Up Pompeii, and George And Mildred (all on Monday).

The downside is a set of ill-advised five-minute parodies by George Dawes, no Sid James, and an unhealthy amount of courage for Ellen DeGenerate.

Tickled Pink looks at the history of gays in American sitcoms from Mary Tyler Moore, through Soap, Roseanne, and, of course, the LA Times’ headline news story, “Ellen DeGeneres Finally Says Yes I Am ! (Rubbish).”

Roseanne’s achievement in “making history by showing primetime’s first lesbian grandmother” let’s put a plaque up) might have been more noteworthy if anybody was actually still watching it.

We mostly get endless interviews with gay executives and scriptwriters on US sitcoms that not even Americans are very interested in -show like Ned And Stacy, suddenly Susan, and High Society.

“I don’t consider my sexuality to be my defining quality,” says one, a strange remark in a programme which does precisely that.

Has Anyone Seen My Pussy ? has a jungle remix of the theme tune from Are You Being Served ? and purports of offer an “analysis” of British seventies sitcoms’ reliance on innuendo (a job that requires Jonathan Ross and Rowland Rivron, rather than Stephen Hawking). 

Lines like Mrs Slocombe’s declaration that “having a bath at six o’clock in the morning is playing havoc with my pussy” don’t actually contain much innuendo. (She’s always called her pussy “it”.) 

One of the writers of Birds of A Feather opines that Mrs Slocombe’s pussy was “a moment of recognition” and (gulp) “a shared experience.”

John Inman declares, “I’ve always been quite adamant that Mr Humphries wasn’t gay”.

And on that bombshell, we turn to Channel 4’s unwarranted fascination with/persecution of people with severe celebrity obsessions and – in Dr Tapehead’s diagnosis -signs of mental illness, which, after I’m Your Number One Fan, now continues with Luvvly Jubbly.

The years that 67-year-old Leon Platt spend perfecting the mannerisms of Last of the Summer Wine’s Compo finally came good when, having already won a non-speaking cameo as A Man Crossing the Road, he eventually became Bill Owen’s body double. (Tapehead’s own obsession with the albino boy from Brookside may yet bear fruit.)

“When I first go involved with Summer Wine,” reflects the Compo-wannabe, “My whole person changed. It felt as if all my past life had gone and then went through a compete rebirth. It increased my spiritual aspect.”

As Method Acting goes, Leon puts Sean Penn to shame. “Once I’m in the character’s clothes, there is nothing else. I am Compo.”

Even as Channel 4 film him being Compo, he says he feels he is “on the Yorkshire Moors, actually on location, with the team.”

He is, in short, medically deluded. We watch him reliving the crossing-the-road scene and spending his days laying his bon tempi organ waiting for the phone to ring again, pictures which lave you in no doubt that poor Leon is being patronised and exploited.

Arriving in what he calls “Steptoe country”, Londoner Mark Pearson’s chest fills with pride and emotion. “The adrenaline starts to go. It feels good. It feels good to be here.”

The Steptoe yard is not there any more, but he still goes out to where it was.

“I used to actually visit this site every Saturday for 18 months just to be here,” he says, emotionally, about a cul-de-sac in Kensal Rise.

Leaving his wife and to screaming kids a theme he sets off with “more locations to find, sites to clarify” – and not just the locations, but the places where the locations were shot from, too.

“It’s just fulfilling that dream,” he says from one rooftop. “See the area from different views and different angles. It’s quite hard to describe what I feel. It’ an achievement, in my own personal way.”

His wife sullenly reveals the obsession only emerged after they were married.

“It’s just something I cannot explain,” Mark admits. “For tow or three years now, it’s been very difficult for myself to find a reason why it’s happening.”

Mark, you need help. Channel 4, you do too.


Tickled Pink: Sat, 8.55pm, C4

Has Anyone Seen My Pussy? Sat,10.35pm, C4

Luvvly Jubbly: Sun, 7.35pm, C4