On the death of their father Joshua, siblings Eli and Nellie Pledge inherit the family business, Pledge's Purer Pickles, at Colne, Lancashire, in the north of England. Their faithful ...
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Harry H. Corbett,
Three old men from Yorkshire who have never grown up face the trials of their fellow town citizens and everyday life and stay young by reminiscing about the days of their youth and attempting feats not common to the elderly.
On the death of their father Joshua, siblings Eli and Nellie Pledge inherit the family business, Pledge's Purer Pickles, at Colne, Lancashire, in the north of England. Their faithful workers include the myopic Stan Hardman, Bert Taylor and Grenville. Transport is provided by Storm the cart horse. Never far away are second cousin Lily and her husband Walter. While Nellie works hard to keep the business going, Eli prefers to indulge in the delights of beer, cigarettes and young women. Written by
At the time, it was a pleasure to see a sit-com based in the north of England instead of the otherwise ubiquitous London-and-home-counties. The full crew of well-rounded Yorkshire accents came as quite a refreshing change to those who lived up there.
However; the ideas it portrayed belonged to a decade earlier, and this probably represented the historical outlook of its mature writers. Released in 1958 instead, this would have been an original and topical scream.
As it was, even by 1968 (one year before 'Python'), it was a bit of a limping-whimpy. The thing held its ground, however, by the contrasting mix of eccentrics who made up the cast, to say nothing of the enthusiasm of its players. We had Hylda Baker giving it her all as spinster Nellie Pledge, prey to every kind of malapropism "I can say that without fear of contraception". Jimmy Jewel, already way past his sell-by date, adequately played her lecherous cork-pulling brother Eli. Their 'cousins' made regular appearances as faded, frustrated, but loyal , trailing her silent, seemingly-senile Walter, apparently prone to incontinence.
The script relied far too heavily on bad-mouthing and insults rather than inventive wit, and could have been a great deal funnier than it was. The curious mix of eccentrics is reminiscent of 'The Vicar Of Dibley', which plays upon the scheming of its clever characters being thwarted by the almost surreal stupidity of the others. It is extremely funny. There are good lines written for everyone.
'Nearest & Dearest' is a creature of its time. It represented the state of the art of comedy as represented by scriptwriters who had grown up in a different social epoch. It took 'Monty Python' to rule-off the old, and begin a fresh and modern account.
Even so, Hylda Baker was an extremely funny comedienne. She was cast from the same mould that produced another northern treasure: Mollie Sugden. Where are their likes today?
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