Only When I Laugh - question

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Watched this show a few months back. Was slow to take to it but I started liking more as it grew on me after a few episodes. I discovered the show when I saw that Peter Bowles was in it and liked him from Rising Damp and Manor Born.

At first I thought there was a central character that the show Only When I Laugh was about. Someone whose eyes we see through as the story takes place. Originally thought the main was Norman because he is the first we see in the ward and then he meets the rest of his fellow ward members Figgis and Archie. Part way through the series I started to think there was no central character and it was more about the guys in the ward. Near the end of the series I started thinking that Figgis was the central character.

I thought it was Norman because he mentions his mom singing to him the song that plays as the show opens and closes. The H-A-P-P-Y song. Which strangely enough when the other singers break into the chorus causes me think of the Lumberjack Song from Monty Python. As I watched the show I realized that it seems to be Figgis singing that song for the intro. Also that it appears to be Figgis who we see on the stretcher. In the end the camera (us the viewer) stays in the ward with Figgis and not follows Norman or Archie out of the hospital. Which also has me believe Figgis (or the ward itself) to be the main character after all.

What are your thoughts, is there supposed to be a central character of this show? If so then who? Or is it more about the guys of ward in general?
 

captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
I imagine James Bolam as Figgis is considered the main character but its the contrast between the three characters that is the mainstay of the show with of course Richard Wilson as the Doctor who is great foil and supporting actor. The main protagonists are Figgis always trying to get one over on Dr Thorpe that's why I believe he is the main character the others are a very able cast . I think James Bolam was probably the bigger star at the time having had success in both Likely Lads series an When the Boat Comes in .
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Thanks. I discovered later that James Bolam was probably the bigger star on the show. Yes, the doctor and his assistant Gupte were also great. Kinda missed Gupte in the later series.

I have yet to see The Likely Lads but really want to seek out some episodes now. I like James Bolam as an actor now, was unsure of his character at first as Figgis. Just this morning on searching about things I discovered that Anita Cary is in Likely Lads as well. Liked her in I Didn't Know You Cared just discovered she was the wife / girlfriend of the 'Wise Man of the Woods' character in LotSW episode. Also discovered that Sheila Fearn of George and Mildred is also in Likely Lads. Brigit Forsyth of Still Open All Hours is in it as well. Also thought I saw Vicki Michelle of Allo Allo in there for the LIkely Lads also.
 

captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads is really much funnier than the original great for me because I can see a lot of landmarks I knew when I was younger that have disappeared from my home town and surrounding area. Brigit Forsyth's character Thelma's father is of course our beloved Bill Owen . Norman Mitchell, Tony Haygarth and Brian Glover are all in the show . Brian is in one of the most famous episodes where Bob and Terry the main characters are desperate to avoid finding out the score of Newcastle United's European match to win a bet the have with Brian's character Flint . I won't spoil the plot in case you get to see it . You don't need to watch the Likely Lads before watching Whatever happened it just shows them meeting after a long gap when Terry was in the Army otherwise the series are totally independent.
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
I did not realize when I was typing the above posts @captain clutterbuck that there is a Likely Lads, a Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and a movie called Likely Lads. I just knew of the name Likely Lads. It is saddening to discover that a chunk of the earlier Likely Lads has been lost according to the Wiki page. Thanks for letting me know that me know that the first set is not needed to be watched in order to be able to follow the second set.

I just finished watching a pretty funny early episode of Likely Lads from the u-tube and see that Ronnie Hazelhurst did the music! Also read that Wendy Richards of Are You Being Served? is in this series too somewhere. Not sure why but I really get a kick out of discovering an actor or actress that I like in one British show is in another different show. I don't seem to do that with American shows, just shows from the UK.

I understand what you mean on seeing old familiar landmarks one grew up with being immortalized in a show. I feel the same about the late '70s to early 80's TV comedy called WKRP in Cincinnati. It is about the hi-jinks in a fictional AM radio station from a town I grew up not too far from. The station switched from classical to rock-n-roll format thus ruffling a lot of feathers. I was a driving age teenager then and recall the buildings and skyline as they were shown in the intro credits of the show while the camera pans around the city. Throughout the seasons of the show they would mix in different shots of the city. Watching the show as it was broadcast back in the day you saw current shots of the city as it actually looked in real life at the time. If that makes sense.

Here is a clip of one of the early intros.
 
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captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
Rick WKRP reached the UK it was a favourite of mine god that takes me back it was always on late at night and was a must after returning from the pub Venus and Dr Johnny Fever , rock on man ! Thank you so much for triggering that memory I am still smiling now:):)
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Wow, I never would have thought WKRP would ever have reached your shores! So glad you know of and enjoyed the show. It is one of the few shows (M*A*S*H was another) my whole family would come together and watch as a group. We have laughed so hard that we would have tears coming down our cheeks. Those were the days, simpler times. :21:

I am finding the Likely Lads series reminds me a lot of the guys in On the Buses with their banter and lady chasing. Enjoying it. Found the complete set of Likely (what there is left of it) and Whatever online for about $15 shipped. Seriously tempted to get it.


Added
Just saw the episode with Bill Owen. I did not recognize him at first by sight but caught the voice right away. He did a great job playing that character.
 
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captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
Hope the Geordie accent isn't to onerous to grasp . Its strange to see Brigit Forsyth as a young actress and then to see her as a very mature actress in Still Open all Hours you can tell its her .When I first saw her is Still Open it hit hard because as she had aged so much it made me realise I had to , though she is older than me at 80 this year
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
I had no problems with his accent. Right away I thought... I know that voice, where do I know it from? Took me a few more seconds then I remembered you wrote Bill Owen was in this show and it clicked. Looked so much different cleaned up and in a suit with top hat.

With Brigit I saw a screenshot of her in the show while trying to find out more about the series. Thought her face seems familiar where have I seen her before? Googled her name and a recent picture of her showed up. Was like yep! that is Madge from Still Open, hehe.

I can relate with the 'age hit' of seeing a favored actor / actress when they go from a movie or tv show to another with some time gap in between. My eye opening revelation, so to speak, that really hit home for me and made me aware of the passing of time where the hilarious movies Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995). I remember seeing Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as a kid in The Odd Couple (1968) with little thought felt they were about my parents age. Kid logic = I'm young, they are older than me, they must be about my parents age.

As an adult seeing them older in Grumpy Old Men I was a little more aware that they had aged but thought not much about it. Been seeing movies with them and Ann-Margret, Sophia Loren, Burgess Meredith and others throughout my life so I grew up with them. The passage of time was subtle. These were actors much loved by my parents and myself, spent many times laughing together at their movies over the years. Thought little of age or time passing along.

It was with Grumpier Old Men and seeing how much older they had become within a few years. Their frailness was setting in and it really dawned on me that if they are getting older then my parents are getting older. Which means that I, myself, have gotten older. I became much more aware of mortality then. It hurt to suddenly be seeing my folks as older. Sadly, Burgess Meredith passed away a few years later which roughly marked my conscious awareness of screen icons I enjoyed so much watching while growing up were beginning to pass away from old age, not just from tragic accidents.

Sorry, did not mean to go off on a sad tangent with this. Was trying to show empathy.
 
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captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
Sorry Rick I thought you might struggle with Terry's accent as he is Geordie , Bob is playing Geordie but is not from the North East . Couple of snippets for you . After the series ended Rodney Bewes and James Bolam never spoke , you could say they didn't like each other after they had a big falling out but that's an understatement .

After that James Bolam allegedly prevented Rodney from earning repeat fees as he refused to agree to having the series repeated on any of the channels for a long time. Rodney had very few parts after that but of course James Bolam prospered and starred in many shows .Rodney, I believe, struggled financially until his death in 2017 . Bolam was often asked about why he refused and possibility of making a further show. Bolam simply said he didn't want to be associated with the show, it was a job he had no real feeling for it, which was so disappointing on so many levels .

He used to say just because we played friends doesn't mean we are . When fans called out in the street, ‘Hey Terry, where’s Bob?’ Bolam would snarl: ‘He’s dead!’

In the series they are touted as both being great Newcastle United fans but Bolam was born in Sunderland. One of the episodes when Terry is ill in bed Bob comes to visit as they are talking . In the scene it shows a poster on the wall behind Bolam and it is a photograph of the Sunderland football Team which suggests Bolam was a Sunderland fan and although he acted as a Newcastle fan for the show he wanted to show his true colours in some small way and pretty sure he would have insisted on it being a Sunderland poster on his bedroom wall on the set.
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Oops, misunderstood what/who you were talking about there with the accent. Totally embarrassed, please no one take a swing at me with a tin tray! I thought you meant Bill was speaking in a Geordie accent in that scene. Now I see you meant Bolam. Don't believe I have had any problems with Bolam's accent in the Lads or Only / Laugh. Not enough to consciously think about it at least or wonder what he said.

I know there are different accents around the UK just like there are here in the US. Unfortunately I do not as of yet know the names of them or the areas they encompass. Wish I did because there are times when watching British shows that I think that person has a neat accent and I wonder what part of the country they are from.

For example in the Red Dwarf episode where the guys tackle the Despair Squid and wake up in a VR room and get told they did an awful job of playing the game. The attendant who unhooks them and tells the guys to go to the Recuperation Room.
*Holy Moly I just looked the guy up and his name is Timothy Spall and was also in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Wow, did not make that connection before, haha. Anyway I thought he had an interesting accent and wondered where he was from. Turns out to be London.

There was another actress that I cannot think of at the moment or what show she was in. Thought she had a really neat accent as well as wondered where she was from. There are times when they may have gone to an acting school and are changing their native accent. Which defeats the novelty of trying to learn what different places sound like.

Sad to hear that James and Rodney did not get along in real life. Such a shame. They had a good thing going with the show it seemed.
 

captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
In Auf Wiedersehen and Dwarf Timothy Spall used a Birmingham or Brummie accent as its referred to . I suppose one of the pertinent traits of any actor is the ability to use different accents . When a part comes up and they audition I know a lot study the accent in great detail for the part if they get the part and go to great lengths to perfect it ............................. and then there's Dick Van Dyke ;)
 

RickAns

Well-Known Member
Ah, now. Try not to be too hard on the guy. I know you are just playing around in good fun on this and so am I. While being slightly ahead of my time I do like some of the movies and TV shows Dick Van Dyke has done. I have not seen Mary Poppins, sister has. I will admit to seeing and liking at the time Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. My excuse is being a silly kid back then and not knowing better, haha!

As far as his accent I presume you are referring to his role in Mary Poppins. I was not exactly sure what you meant and a quick search on 'Dick Van Dyke British accent' yielded this:

From Wochit Entertainment - In a recent interview, Dick Van Dyke who played Bert in the classic Disney movie, “Mary Poppins’ say that no told him his accent wasn’t very good. Dyke stated, “Someone should have told me I needed to work on my Cockney accent. Nearly everyone in the ‘Mary Poppins’ cast was a Brit but no one said anything… Years later I asked Julie Andrews, “Why didn’t they tell me?” She said it was because I was working so hard.”

From a UK site - https://www.heart.co.uk/showbiz/mary-poppins-dick-van-dyke-cockney-accent/

Appearantly he was given an Irish voice coach that spent maybe an hour with him. All the British people on the cast were 'too nice to tell him that his accent was horrible.' I prefer to believe the Too Nice Brit Theory. It was a Disney kids movie after all, not a reading of King Lear or something. :21:

I'm sure if we search hard enough there might be an example somewhere of a Brit doing a dodgy American accent. I won't even mention officer Crabtree from 'Allo 'Allo and his accents! :29:

Enjoying this chat with ya captain that we have been having the last few days.
 

Adanor

Well-Known Member
I had no problems with his accent. Right away I thought... I know that voice, where do I know it from? Took me a few more seconds then I remembered you wrote Bill Owen was in this show and it clicked. Looked so much different cleaned up and in a suit with top hat.

With Brigit I saw a screenshot of her in the show while trying to find out more about the series. Thought her face seems familiar where have I seen her before? Googled her name and a recent picture of her showed up. Was like yep! that is Madge from Still Open, hehe.

I can relate with the 'age hit' of seeing a favored actor / actress when they go from a movie or tv show to another with some time gap in between. My eye opening revelation, so to speak, that really hit home for me and made me aware of the passing of time where the hilarious movies Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995). I remember seeing Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as a kid in The Odd Couple (1968) with little thought felt they were about my parents age. Kid logic = I'm young, they are older than me, they must be about my parents age.

As an adult seeing them older in Grumpy Old Men I was a little more aware that they had aged but thought not much about it. Been seeing movies with them and Ann-Margret, Sophia Loren, Burgess Meredith and others throughout my life so I grew up with them. The passage of time was subtle. These were actors much loved by my parents and myself, spent many times laughing together at their movies over the years. Thought little of age or time passing along.

It was with Grumpier Old Men and seeing how much older they had become within a few years. Their frailness was setting in and it really dawned on me that if they are getting older then my parents are getting older. Which means that I, myself, have gotten older. I became much more aware of mortality then. It hurt to suddenly be seeing my folks as older. Sadly, Burgess Meredith passed away a few years later which roughly marked my conscious awareness of screen icons I enjoyed so much watching while growing up were beginning to pass away from old age, not just from tragic accidents.

Sorry, did not mean to go off on a sad tangent with this. Was trying to show empathy.
It took me about a year of watching (Inspector) Lewis to put two and two together and figure out that (Inspector) Lewis was a spin-off of (Inspector) Morse and that was Kevin Whately, only just a little older in (Inspector) Lewis.
 

captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
It is held in high esteem as being the worst Cockney Accent in a film ever, Dick's accent is cited by every comedian you can imagine as being the worst ever . Even the Simpsons took the mick in an episode when they did a version of Mary Poppins where the character was renamed Mary Bobbins and Bart effects a mocking Cockney accent if I recall it properly.

Allo Allo is clearly a two edged sword of a running gag , Rene and the rest speak English with a French Accent pretending as they are supposedly French they can't understand a word the Airmen speak which is of course English, Crabtree is an English Policeman working undercover as a Gendarme , he speaks a sort of French /English that the French contingent Rene et al can't understand either .
 

captain clutterbuck

Well-Known Member
I have watched both if you like Police Drama /Detective shows both are really good they also have a prequel show to Morse called Endeavour which is Morse as a young detective making his was way in the force . All set in Oxford so the architectural shots are really interesting . I watched all well after they had been shown originally but so glad I did . They are very English but hugely enjoyable you don't have to watch in sequence which chronologically would be Endeavour-Morse-Lewis[Lewis was Morse's Sergeant before being promoted to his own show:rolleyes:] I actually watched one of the recent Endeavour series, got hooked and worked through each one still have a few Morse to watch but finished the other two.
 
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