In 1970, Marty Feldman starred in ( and co-wrote ) the movie 'Every Home Should Have One' ( known as 'Think Dirty' in America ), all about an advertising agency that resorts to desperate measures to sell a bland product - namely using sex to sell McLaughlins' frozen porridge. A decade later, Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney gave us a six-part B.B.C.-1 sitcom - 'Watch This Space' - which explored the same theme. It was a departure for the prolific writing team; having created other shows set in workplaces such as 'The Rag Trade' and 'On The Buses', here they were with yet another, but offices are quite different places to bus depots and factories, and the final result was not particularly successful. It was as though the two Rons had decided they had had enough of working class comedies and were aiming at something higher, nothing less than a satirical look at the advertising industry.
As well as lacking in funny lines, the mix of characters was not particularly strong ( unusual for a Wolfe/Chesney show ); the agency the show was centred around was headed by Brian Reeves ( played by Christopher Biggins ), a bow-tie wearing poltroon who had stupid ideas but could not see them as such. His staff included the recently married Bob ( Peter Blake ) and Claire ( Liza Goddard ) who frequently found themselves trying to keep their working relationship separate from their marriage. Each week they had to sell some product, often by the most inane means imaginable. In 'Cleo's Milk', Reeves conceived of a television commercial in which Claire would be seen bathing Cleopatra-style in the stuff. In 'Crackly Delight', he insisted that a woman with tiny hands be seen holding a chocolate bar to make it appear bigger. Real-life ad agencies objected publicly to the show's giving away their valued secrets. Viewers objected for another reason - they did not find the show funny.
One was Noel Edmonds, who while standing in for Margaret Forwood as television critic of 'The Sun', made unfavourable comparisons with 'Pig In The Middle', an I.T.V. sitcom running at the same time also starring Liza Goddard. To quote The Bearded Wonder; "'Watch This Space' is so chronic it taints the brilliance of 'Pig In The Middle'". The man who later gave the world 'Mr.Blobby' is of course entitled to his view, but to tell the truth, neither was much good. Strangely, when Liza went on 'Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop' a few days after the review appeared, I expected him to bring up the subject of why 'Watch This Space' was so lame, but he did not. Instead he politely asked her if it was coming back next year! And he did not even blush with shame for being so two-faced. Liza said simply: "We don't know!". Which was her way of saying: "Of course not! It bombed, you fool!".
When Forwood came back from holiday, she reviewed the last few episodes of 'Space', and said that although the industry was begging to be sent up rotten, Wolfe and Chesney were perhaps not the best people to do it. They stayed in the world of big business for their next show - the John Inman/Rula Lenska sitcom 'Take A Letter Mr.Jones'. It would have taken extraordinarily brilliant advertising on the B.B.C.'s part to make 'Space' a big hit.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?