Wolfie Smith is an unemployed dreamer from Tooting London, a self proclaimed Urban Guerilla who aspires to be like his hero Che Guevara. Leading a small group called the Tooting Popular ... See full summary »
Wolfie Smith is an unemployed dreamer from Tooting London, a self proclaimed Urban Guerilla who aspires to be like his hero Che Guevara. Leading a small group called the Tooting Popular Front with aspirations to create a communist Britain. Although through being thoroughly disorganised his chances range from slim to none. Written by
The running gag in this show was that every other character of note had their own name for him. 'Foxie' 'Yeti' 'Smudger' 'Trotsky' & 'Smiffy' with I think, only Ken actually calling him 'Wolfie' Am I right in believing nobody ever called him Walter Henry? I have a memory that he only revealed that as his real name in the penultimate show.
I do remember the original BBC promo for this series. 'Wolfie' was spraying graffiti on a short section of wall while Ken watched. He'd managed to write "THINK AHEA" before running out of wall, and amidst the ironic laughter of the audience began to berate the council for not building a wall long enough
It set the tone for what followed, although almost immediately the show began to die in instalments as actor after actor left during its four season run. Some, like girlfriend Shirley were merely written out while her screen father, the more central character 'Charlie' was recast twice (if we include the pilot.) I feel though that when Stephen Grief's excellent 'Harry Fenning' was replaced, the show had peaked, perhaps reaching its zenith with "Glorious Day" the third season finale. Yep, it was 'that' episode where they 'liberate' the Scorpion Tank and invade London. I think even die hard aficionados would agree with me that should have been that.
Particularly as season three had some of the most memorable episodes of all, introducing John Tordoff as the hyperbolically bizarre 'Tofkin.' Check out "Don't look down" and "Tofkin's revenge." Quite a few have pointed out the similarities between this series and Sullivan's next effort, the rather better known "Only Fools and Horses" and the similarities are indeed there. Both were set in a triangle of flat, pub and occasional exterior, and it is straightforward to recognise equivalent characters across both series. The malapropism that surrounded Wolfie's name was refined for Rodney, who was consistently called 'Dave' throughout by Trig, and of course there is the Citizen Smith episode that was called "Only Fools and Horses" which seems to round things up.
I actually worked on this series in a minor, functionary role, during 1980. It is one of very few productions I can recall halting during the shoot as the studio crew were laughing so much it was putting the actors off, and this was during the fourth, and I consider poorest season. People were still talking about it for some time after, and quoting gags while Only Fools and Horses struggled to take hold in its early years.
I think the reason that 'Only Fools' prospered and 'Smith' rather withered on the vine was the lack of breadth of story lines and a cast limited in numbers. There are only so many scrapes an Urban Revolutionary can get involved in and with so few lead characters, Sullivan ran out of steam rather early. This series has its moments though and is well worth a look. It had a recent re-run (late 2005) on one of the many BBC/ITV archive satellite channels (in this case UKTV Drama) and should re-appear before long. Until then we have the DVD's to keep us going.
Power to the People!
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