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I was around fourteen when 'Me Mammy' was shown on BBC on Friday evenings. I remember the opening credits, which alternated between shots of Milo O'Shea, successful businessman, swanning around in a Mercedes, and apparently leading a full life, against strident, brassy music, and shots of his mammy doing prosaic things around the house, against gentle Irish folk-dance music. Of course, poor Milo is dominated by her, despite his high-power job. A line sticks in my mind, which goes something like, 'Me mammy has no objection to me getting married. It's just that whoever I married would have to be over 60. And she'd have to be a nun. And she'd have to be a fella!' Like a lot of comedies at this time, it sometimes strained to be outrageous, but, looking back, I think it was quite subtle, especially in that the mammy wasn't a dragon, but quite a likable and dotty old lady (probably about the same age as her 'son' in reality), and they'd just somehow got stuck that way. Moments remain with me rather than stories. Like mammy's devotion to 'Randoloph Scott' -( Randolph, that is - who was a cowboy star from way back when) and her outrage at her boy's acquaintance with 'filthy trollops'. Yootha Joyce played his long-suffering girlfriend. I know the BBC used to just wipe tapes, so I don't suppose a single fragment of it survives, but maybe this will rekindle someone's memories, should they chance upon it.
Like the previous viewer, I recall Me Mammy from my early teens. I adored the whole show, and along with Up Pompeii it remains by favourite programme of this time. Most episodes centred on Milo O'Shea's attempts to bed his lusted-after secretary Miss Argyle, played with deadpan glee by Yootha Joyce. I remember one very daring line - he promises to show her Paris, and she says she will show him the Arc de Triomphe! Of course, they never did get together, thanks to his religious mother. Another running gag was Mammy's plaster saints (literally she had figures around her house), and her constant cry of "Jesus, you've made me knock over Saint Bernadette of Lourdes", or whichever miniature figure she'd just smashed. I really hope some episodes of this great show survive - I would love to see them again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The total absence of 'Me Mammy' clips on nostalgia programmes suggest to me that none of these wonderful episodes have survived. I related to this show because there was a distinct parallel between it and my very catholic mother's attempts at keeping me chaste - Milo O'Shea had my profound sympathy as his efforts to bed a woman mirrored my own at the time. Remember the 'Mammy's' cupboard full of Saints which were often aired and offered numerous incantations with hastily administered Signs of the Cross / Blessings? The series would be very dated now but if some still exist why not pander to the minority for once? I often wonder if this series influenced the writers of Father Ted to some degree. I crave seeing an episode of this almost as much as one from 'Beggar my neighbour' but that's another story.
Mammy was not always virtuous.
Benjamin comes home one night after his mother has had a man around to the house, sees a briar pipe on the sideboard
Benjamin: "Whose briar pipe is that?" Mammy (embarassed): "It's mine." Benjamin: "Don't talk rot! You smoke a clay pipe!"
Milo O'Shea's characters often seemed to be matched with unattractive women. Apart from Yootha Joyce the most notable was Phyllis Diller as Mrs Zero, his wife in "The Adding Machine" (1969).
Benjamin's Uncle John, the Catholic Priest was also a strange character. He would turn up at the house and Mammy would offer him whisky. "Now you will have a little drink."
"You will, you will, you will."
"I won't, I wont', I won't".
The routine would finish with Father John holding out a glass he had with him and saying "Ah, you're a terrible woman."
I would LOVE to see this show again -- though by the sound of it, it's gone forever. One episode had Milo O'Shea bringing home a pregnant girlfriend and announcing to his mammy that he intended to marry her, much to her dismay -- which was instantly replaced by outrage when the mammy discovered that the girl was pregnant by another man and Milo didn't mind. The mammy took the girl out shopping, the girl announced that she had to "go to the lavvy" and the mammy sent her "all the way down, all the way down" to the bottom of the stairs to the underground trains and the mammy took off running, knowing the girl had no idea where they lived. A very funny show with great supporting characters.
As a child growing up in the 60s I remember this show very well...the poor frustrated Bunjy did manage to get his hands on Miss Argyll eventually, but only after obtaining a single contraceptive pill...and taking it himself! Also stuck in my mind is the constant self-flagellation of Cousin Enda (David Kelly)...this often involved the use of knotted ropes and rusty razor blades! This sitcom displayed that unique Irish humour which has since resurfaced in Father Ted. What a shame the BBC thought that a blank video tape would be more valuable than its contents, for shame! So many classic shows have been lost forever due to their misguided thinking.
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