Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
It was filmed in 1982 but wasn't broadcast because of the Falklands War. After the war the BBC kept it under wraps until a satellite TV station (UK Gold) broadcast the series in 1993. It was finally given an airing on UK terrestrial television (BBC2) 18 years after it was made, in 2000. See more »
Then Churchill Said to Me is based upon the set up of Up Pompeii (which was based on the stage show 'A funny thing happened on the way to the forum'), and Frankie Howerd starred in all three.
Up Pompeii was written by Carry On scribe Talbot Rothwell, possibly the best writer for that genre of comedy. He wrote brilliant lines for Frankie Howerd, understanding the comedians strengths and how to get big laughs from his stuttering comedy. The show was fast paced, self-mocking, very original (how many sitcoms are set in B.C. '72?) and hilariously funny. It could have easily transferred into a Carry On film (it was made into a film by Ned Sherrin, and spawned 2 sequels).
Then Churchill Said To Me tries to live up to that standard, but fails miserably. The writers just make Howerd's stuttering hugely irritating, with the 'jokes' being woefully poor. (Most had all been said years before by Howerd, but constructed far better.) The situations are also tedious and over-long, with Howerd's stuttering used to pad out the 30 minutes. Because there isn't much of a situation or character interaction (most of them are cynical and shout/bitch at each other), none of them come off as likable. If you look at It Ain't Half Hot, Mum's Sgt. Major Williams, he was always shouting and brawling, but came off as likable thanks to the brilliant writing of Croft/Perry and the faultless performance of Windsor Davies.
Churchill Said to Me could have been very funny. It had Frankie Howerd, Nicholas Courtney in it. Its theme music was on par with 'Who Do You think you are Kidding Mr. Hitler?' from Dad's Army and the production values were spot on. Trouble is that the characters were all badly conceived and unlikable, the situations/scripts were awful (on par with Howerd's War film 'Up the Front', spun off from Up Pompeii!). Had it been more different from Up Pompeii, i.e. Howerd not talking to the audience, different characters, more period humour and warmth, then it could have been a classic. As it stands, its a terribly embarrassing sitcom, trying to be funny with 'Carry On' humour, but failing all the time. Also, when it tried to mock itself with Howerd saying 'What do you expect? Wit?', you felt like saying 'YES!'
Then Churchill Said to Me was made by the BBC in 1982 but was never broadcast because of the Falklands War. It was shown 10 years later on UK Gold, then shown for the first time on BBC2 during 2001. Obviously no one watched it, as it was never on the same time each week. Also, it was poorly re-edited by its co writer Lou Jones, making some scenes totally dis-jointed. I doubt it'll ever be shown again, or released on video/DVD. Not many writers could write jokes for Howerd like Talbot Rothwell could, and those that tried more often than not failed. And this sitcom did just that!
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