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Charity Begins At Home

8/10
Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
12 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I do miss Leslie Crowther. Though hardly one of Britain's greatest ever comedians, he had great likability and charisma, and could turn his hand to anything, whether it be kids T.V. ( 'Crackerjack' ), variety shows ( 'The Saturday Crowd' ), sketch shows ( 'Crowther's In Town' ), talent shows ( 'Stars In Your Eyes' ), and, of course, sitcoms.

His first, 'The Reluctant Romeo', was for the B.B.C. and made no impact on the world. He later described it as an embarrassment, believing himself to be 'totally miscast'. He fared somewhat better with his second.

'My Good Woman', made by A.T.V., starred Crowther as 'Clive Gibbons', an antiques dealer constantly at loggerheads with wife Sylvia ( Sylvia Syms ), who is heavily involved in local charity work. She hates to see things being thrown away, meaning Clive is up to his neck in jumble sale fodder most of the time. Exerting an Svengali-like influence on her is the local vicar, the Reverend Martin Hooper ( Richard Wilson, in his first major sitcom role ). Clive's best friend is Philip Broadmore ( Keith Barron ), also his next-door neighbour, a man whose tight-fistedness could give Scrooge a run for his money. When Barron left after two seasons, Glyn Houston replaced him as 'Bob Berris', darts player and ladies man.

One typical episode had Clive agreeing to stand in for his wife on 'Meals On Wheels' duties. Unfortunately, he collected the wrong list of names, and handed out meals to people who did not need them. Realising his error, he tried to snatch a plate of food away from a man halfway through the repast.

If one had to define 'My Good Woman' it must be as 'middle of the road'. The whole set-up - husband and wife, next-door neighbour, vicar, comic misunderstandings - was very 'Terry & June'.

Crowther and Syms had great chemistry together though, very much as Terry Scott had with June Whitfield.

The writer, Ronnie Taylor, went on to pen David Jason's first solo success 'A Sharp Intake Of Breath', which also featured Richard Wilson. While not an outstanding comedy writer as such, like Vince Powell, he knew how to construct a sitcom, and while its hard to avoid charges of blandness, the amiable show was a five season hit. There was also a sketch in the 1973 All-Star Comedy Carnival, and this is the only bit of the show I own.

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