In his book 'Where Did It All Go Right?', Andrew Collins reminisces about 'Bright's Boffins' and says that it is never featured on retro programmes because he is about the only person left on Earth who remembers it. Actually, I remember it too. It was a children's comedy series made by the now-defunct Southern television, starring the late Alexander Dore ( remember him as Herman the spy from 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'? ) as 'Wing-Commander Bertram Bright', the inaptly-named head of a team of scientists working round the clock at Halfwitt House to invent weapons for military use. Of course they were not very clever and their ideas did not work, either exploding, catching fire or falling to pieces. The only way they might have defeated an enemy would be if they were to die laughing on catching sight of them! Bright himself was pompous and rather arrogant, a bit like Terry-Thomas in 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines'. Episodes often concluded with him being caught at the heart of an explosion, left with tattered clothes and a blackened, angry face. The slapstick element was further increased by Sergeant Thumper ( Denis Shaw ), built like a brick out-house who, for reasons which escape me, would often be seen running around with a metal bucket on his head. Bartlett Mullins played 'The Professor', and Avril Angers was 'Molly McCrandle'. Another zany character, Marmaduke ( Eddie Reindeer ), was always seen dressed in top hat and tails ( don't ask why ) and whenever angry, had a habit of hopping up and down, usually resulting in his trousers falling round his ankles. The other well-remembered character was flat-capped 'Dogsears Dawson', played by the late and much-missed Gordon Rollings, one of British television's greatest unsung heroes ( you might recall him as 'Arkwright' from those John Smith's beer ads ).
The opening titles depicted Bright taking a bath in the middle of a field. The final episode of the first season was called 'S.O.T.S'. and had Bright recalled to Whitehall. When he got there, he was informed S.O.T.S. stood for 'Sacked On The Spot', meaning he was now out of a job. The second season saw him, Marmaduke, and Dogsears relocated to a disused railway station, Larst Hall, from which they continued their good work for Queen and country without official backing.
Amongst the writing team for this delightfully silly show was the late Denis Goodwin, a one-time associate of Bob Monkhouse. This was popular with kids ( me included ) and the comic 'Look-In' ran a one-page strip based on the show. Johnny Briggs ( 'Mike Baldwin' from 'Coronation Street' ) was in several episodes as 'Tippy The Tipster'. Valentine Dyall and Jack Watling also featured. Sadly, not a single episode survives in the archives.
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