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It's interesting how a fictional character can be successful in one medium yet utterly unsuccessful in another. Andy Capp was a huge success in the comic strips, spawning various merchandising deals (I fondly recall my first bottle of Andy Capp's Spring Tonic) and even a spin-off character: 'Buster, Son of Andy Capp', who had his own long-running strip yet was never once mentioned in the original. Despite this success, Andy never caught on in any other medium. The West End stage musical based on Andy Capp was a flop. This short-lived TV series (running briefly in February-March 1988) was no better.
This synopsis reflects only the TV series, not the comic strip. Andy and Flo Capp live at 37 Durham Street, Hartlepool. Andy is a layabout, a drunkard, a bully, a liar and a gambler. The only reason he's not a skiver into the bargain is because he hasn't got a job to skive off in the first place. His put-upon wife Flo is kept working overtime to pay the bills. To make matters worse, Andy is a serial philanderer.
This Thames TV sitcom suffered from the total unlikeability of the main character. (In the comic strip, Andy was more of a likable rogue.) The first episode dealt with Andy's promise to turn over a new leaf. (He doesn't, of course.) The sixth and final episode dealt with Andy's reluctance to celebrate the Capps' wedding anniversary.
Most of the recurring characters in the comic strip get a look-in here, including the Capps' neighbours next-door over, Chalkie White and his wife Ruby. Also on offer are barman Jackie, rent-collector Percy Ritson (geddit? "writ's on"), and the 'milkie' (milkman) making his dawn rounds as Andy comes staggering home from a night on the tiles.
The Andy Capp strip was brilliant in small bites, but the character didn't seem to work very well over an extended narrative. Certain features of the comic strip just didn't make a smooth transition to live-action. Andy Capp famously wore his flat cap completely over his eyes (like Beetle Bailey and Cheech Wizard) but, in this live-action series, actor James Bolam had to wear his slightly over-sized cap a bit farther back so that he could see where he was going. I laughed at Andy and Flo's frequent fisticuffs in the comic strip, which were always drawn as a huge dust cloud with feet and fists emerging from its depths. In live action, this wouldn't work nearly so well ... in fact, in live action, a brawl between a man and a woman simply isn't funny at all.
Even Andy Capp was not immune to the onslaught of political correctness. For three decades of comic-strip dailies, he sported a 'tab' (cigarette) in his mouth, but this was quietly deleted in 1988. Later, such newfangled annoyances as mobile 'phones found their way into the strip (with Andy opposed to them, refreshingly). As great as the strip was, 'Andy Capp' the TV series was nothing much. This short-lived series is not worth a second look.
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