Clive Swift is best known to American audiences as the henpecked husband of Hyacinth Bucket in "Keeping Up Appearances", a series which I consider overrated. He's much funnier as the star of "The Nesbitts Are Coming", a Yorkshire TV series which is utterly hilarious.
The Nesbitts are a family of crooks, who rove through northern England in their roofless lorry. They drive into a town, steal everything that isn't nailed down, swindle the locals, and then move on to the next town in search of new pickings. Who couldn't love a family like that?
Clive Swift is brilliant as Ernie Nesbitt, the husband and father, determined to make sure his kids grow up to be as crooked as their dad. His wife ("the Missus") is only marginally less larcenous. The two Nesbitt sons are apprentice crooks, one of them also a punk rocker. If daughter Marlene isn't a crook, it's only because she's too busy with her hobby: she's a nympho.
The local constables are well aware of the Nesbitts but can't do anything to stop them, owing to the fact that all the police officers in this series are complete morons. Who couldn't love a show like this?
In addition to being hilarious, "The Nesbitts Are Coming" also features some innovative use of background music. Scriptwriter Dick Sharples supplies the lyrics for songs that keep the plotline moving very effectively.
Unusually, this sitcom is a spin-off from a police drama. The crooked Nesbitt clan originally appeared in a two-part episode of "Z Cars", the cop drama. Sharples was smart enough to see that the Nesbitts could sustain an ongoing comedy series. I wish that "The Nesbitts Are Coming" was better known; it's certainly funnier than "Keeping Up Appearances".
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