These were a few of the comments made about 'Odd Man Out', an obscure Thames sitcom from 1977. Bearing in mind that it was written by one half of the team behind 'Love Thy Neighbour', starred one of the cast of 'Are You Being Served?', and produced by the director of the 'Carry On' movies - the late Gerald Thomas - it would have perhaps been unrealistic to expect Carla Lane.
John Inman's first starring role on television, he played 'Neville Sutcliffe', a Blackpool fish and chip shop owner who inherits ( along with prudish sister Dorothy ) half ownership of a seaside rock factory in Littlehampton. The staff includes 'Wilf' ( Peter Butterworth ), 'Ma' ( Avril Angers ), and big chested Marilyn ( Vivienne Johnson, 'Young Mr.Grace's nurse in 'Are You Being Served?' ). It was 'Nearest & Dearest' revisited. Even Neville's living room resembled Nellie Pledge's.
'Neville' was identical to Mr.Humphries ( right down to the mincing walk ) save in one important respect. In 'Are You Being Served?', Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft went to great lengths to keep the nature of Humphries' sexuality a secret. It was suggested but never overtly stated. Vince Powell showed no such restraint, hence viewers were treated to a string of increasingly crude anecdotes about Neville's best friend ( whom we never saw ) Bobby. In place of 'I'm free!' he said 'how's your rock, cock?'. His other catchphrase was: "what are we going to do, what are we going to do?".
Plots included Neville trying to swim the Channel, taking driving lessons, romancing a rich man's daughter, and going to France. The opening credits were - unsurprisingly - done in the form of seaside postcard pictures, accompanied by a bouncy theme by Max Harris, who also wrote the end title music for 'Porridge'.
'Odd Man Out' was a compendium of gay jokes, the like of which television had never before broadcast ( up to that point, any way ). In the era of Julian Clary and Graham Norton, it seems tame, but in 1977 public outrage ended the show after only one season. Inman returned to Grace Brothers, Josephine Tewson had a better sitcom lined up in 'Shelley', but sadly Peter Butterworth passed away shortly afterwards.
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