What a strange little show this was, a London Weekend Television-produced vehicle for the late Dave King who had been a big star back in the '50's. After failing to crack America ( like so many British comics ), he came home where he drifted into straight acting roles, such as the bent copper in the marvellous 'The Long Good Friday' ( 1979 ). There was nothing remotely straight forward about 'Fancy Wanders', however.
The interesting thing about the show was that it appeared to be about nothing. Written by Sid Green, a one-time gag man for Morecambe & Wise, it cast King as the titular character - an unemployed, middle-aged man with nothing to do all day except daydream. His only friend is Alistair ( Joseph Marcell ), a black man with whom he frequently engages in philosophical debate about the mysteries of life, often speculating on what they would do - given the chance - to change the world for the better. Each episode usually began with a harmonica signature tune, a close-up of a dingy bedsit landing, and then, on hearing a door open, an unseen Hilda Fenemore ( as the 'landlady' ) would yell from the bottom of a staircase: "Is that you, Mr.Wanders?". He would offer some daft reply like "No, its Bruce Forsyth!", prompting her to come with an even dafter one: "It could still be a big night if you play your cards right!".
The show featured surreal conceits such as talking inanimate objects such as statues and Space Invaders machines, preempting 'The Young Ones' by a good two years. One episode had Fancy and Alistair in a Job Centre where they encountered a deposed Spanish dictator ( Ricardo Montez from 'Mind Your Language' ) looking for work! Green's scripts were in the same vein as an earlier series he had co-written with Dick Hills entitled 'The Strange World Of Gurney Slade' starring Anthony Newley, also about a misfit and his peculiar 'illustrated thought comedy' experiences.
Occupying a Friday 7.30 P.M. slot, it is not surprising that 'Wanders' did not find an audience, and was swiftly axed. There have been no repeats nor D.V.D. releases.
I'll leave the last word to Wanders himself. When Alistair said at the end of an episode; "Fancy, you're weird!", his mate winked and said: "Smile when you say that, son!".
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