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Gritty, Northern mining drama meets Dallas. Bradley Hardacre runs the local mine and has to deal with his very strange family as well as the trouble caused by his workers, led by the redoubtable Agnes Fairchild (she of the heaving bosom). Comedy show full of references to other TV shows as well as various historical events. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You either got it or you didn't. Those who got it absolutely loved it and could not wait for the next episode. Those who didn't get it either thought it was "too daft to laugh at", or did not realize that it was a satirical comedy. Dry, witty humor indeed, but every line that came form Timothy West's mouth and delivered with a straight face was a gem, mostly very dry wit, but occasionally veering into broad farce.
The storyline was a parody of the grim working class drama set in the industrial north in the 1930's. Love on the Dole, Sam, the Master of Bankdam, Dr. Finlay's Case Book, a dash of Brideshead Revisited and a nod to just about every period soap opera and melodrama, all portrayed with straight faced, but hilariously over the top acting, rather like a bad amateur production. The boots and cloth cap wearing poor workers live in grim terraces owned by the exquisitely tailored mill owner, a coarse self made man, who himself lives in a beautiful big house with landscaped gardens and manicured lawns, which the poor can look at to lift their souls. Bradley Hardacre has a finger in every pie: the cottage hospital, the munitions works, the mine, the dismal terrace homes with the tin bath hanging outside the front door. He considers himself a philanthropist, but his aim to improve conditions in the mines is to get by with as few workers as possible and sack the rest. He begrudges the workers the cotton dust they take home in their lungs. When the hospital ran out of cod liver oil during the strike, they appealed for goldfish to press for the oil.
Bradley has had a long standing affair with bosomy strike leader 'Red' Agnes Fairchild and is the father of at least one of her sons. Agnes allows the affair to continue in order to keep her husband and family employed, though she has no love for him, only a hot burning desire. Bradley married up, and his aristocratic wife now pours gin on her breakfast cornflakes and in her soup, causing Bradley to remark that seeing as her class's soup is at least 70% proof, that is why they are called high society.
I saw a couple of episodes of this series during a visit to UK in 1984, and don't think it was ever shown in the US. They probably wouldn't "get it" or so the thinking would go. The PC crowd would have had heart attacks when Morris acquired a golliwog in the last series. It was a long, long wait for the DVD, but it was worth it. I can watch it over and over just to appreciate the wit.
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