...the Englishman, the Scotsman, the Irishman, and the Welshman? Vince Powell obviously did, because that was the premise of this short-lived Thames sitcom.
Having co-created popular shows such as 'George & The Dragon', 'Two In Clover' ( what a little gem that was! ), 'For The Love Of Ada', 'Never Mind The Quality Feel The Width' and 'Love Thy Neighbour' with his late partner Harry Driver, Powell was on the look out for another hit.
Early in 1975, he gave us 'The Wackers' with Ken Jones ( 'Horrible Ives' from 'Porridge' ) as a Scouser trying to readjust to society following a stretch in prison. It drew complaints on account of its colourful ( though mild by today's standards ) language and was swiftly axed.
Vince bounced back that year with 'My Son Reuben', starring the late Bernard Spear as a mother-dominated Jewish launderette owner. It too failed to find an audience.
Around the same time that last show went out, Vince unveiled 'Rule Britannia!' in which four old ex-Royal Navy sailors honoured a pact by meeting up again after 25 years. They were 'George Bradshaw' ( Tony Melody ), whose zest for life seems to have deserted him, 'Jock McGregor' ( the late and much-missed Russell Hunter ), 'Paddy O'Brien' ( the late Joe Lynch, who had appeared in Powell and Driver's earlier 'Never Mind The Quality etc. ), and 'Taffy Evans' ( Richard Davies a.k.a. 'Mr.Price' from 'Please Sir!' ). Carol Mills played busty barmaid ( didn't all '70's sitcoms have these? ) 'Maggie'.
Back in the company of his old chums again, George regains his sense of humour. But wife Lil ( Jo Warne, from Powell's 'Spring & Autumn' ) is not amused seeing her husband in such disreputable company.
With this top notch cast, it should have been a huge hit. Yes, the four main characters were stereotypes, but lots of classic sitcoms have featured these so I do not really have a problem with that. What I objected to was that Powell never really did much with them. Most of the time they sat around drinking beer, arguing about which part of the U.K. was best, and reminiscing about the 'good old days'. The opening titles showed four pints of beer mysteriously disappearing to the stains of ( what else? ) 'Rule Britannia'. Viewers quickly tired of the whole thing.
In one episode, George, Jock and Taffy put on a talent show to raise money for Paddy to go back to Ireland and see his mother. They did this, only for the show organiser to rob them as soon as their backs were turned. However, an alternative solution was found, and the episode ended happily as a tearful O'Brien was reunited with his mother.
'Rule Britannia!' was no classic, yet was worth watching for the cast, especially the dour tam o'shanter wearing Hunter.
There was a very funny scene in another episode when the fellers discussed soap operas. "The wife's mother thinks 'The Archers' ( a long-running B.B.C. radio soap about country folk ) are all real people!", said a grinning George. "She once tried to book a fortnight's holiday in Ambridge!".
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