The popularity of Jimmy Perry and David Croft's 'Dad's Army' inspired a string of militaristic sitcoms. John Esmonde and Bob Larbey's amusing 'Get Some In' ( broadcast by Thames Television ) had young men joining the R.A.F. Grananda Television's 'Yanks Go Home' saw US Army Air Forcemen being stationed in Lancashire during World War II. Then there was David Clime's 'Backs To The Land', broadcast by Anglia Television, which was all about land girls. Sadly, Clime's creation lacked the vital ingredient for any sitcom - funny lines! It was awful. Totally devoid of any fun or humour.
Set in the 1940's, three girls from varying backgrounds - scatty blonde Daphne Finch Beauchamp, snobbish Jewish girl Shirley Bloom and loud Cockney Jenny Dabb - are sent to Crabtree Farm to work for the miserly Tom Whitlow and his downtrodden wife Ethel, performing jobs as diverse as hay bailing, milking, gathering in eggs and mucking out whilst the men who would usually do the jobs are away fighting for their country. The girls find themselves in all manner of scrapes, and not very funny ones either, whether it be with Whitlow, the surly locals or with the Whitlows devious dogsbody Aggie.
Daphne was written out after series one when Marilyn Galsworthy left and so Pippa Page replaced her as sexy showgirl Bunny Burrows. 'Backs To The Land' was so predictable that it was mortifying to watch. I am not the world biggest fan of 'Dad's Army' but I would rather sit through an entire series of Perry and Croft's creation that sit through a whole episode of this.
Phillipa Howell got on my nerves as Shirley, and rumour has it that her and Terese Stevens ( who played Jenny ) did not get on in real life. Stephanie Fayerman was equally as annoying as Aggie. John Stratton ( who played Whitlow ). was perhaps the only one in the cast to give a half-decent performance. Real life brothers Michael and David Troughton ( sons of Patrick ) appeared here as the Whitlows sons. Michael was later seen to better comic effect as Piers Fletcher Dervish in Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran's 'The New Statesman' alongside Rik Mayall.
The show's horrible theme tune was sung by Anne Shelton and it must rank as one of the very worst ever written for television. Another black mark against the show was the use of canned laughter, which seemed to dog many ITV sitcoms of the '70's.
'Backs To The Land' in my opinion was nothing more than a damp squib and how it managed to run to three series beggars belief.
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