The Bottle Boys Diaries Part 9 ('The Milk Cup Runneth Over')
THE MILK CUP RUNNETH OVER The less than memorable final episode of Bottle Boys sees football mad Dave attempting to get hold of a ticket to see his beloved Chelsea side, a task he is not helped in by the rest of the dairy, as they're all Arsenal supporters. With the elusive ticket being passed from character to character, Dave spends the episode pursuing it, a task that leads him to the Kings Arms (good god, they sure got allot of use out of that set). Another running gag in the episode has Dave accidentally bumping into and/or spilling the drink of a big, tough Arsenal supporter who takes one look at Dave's Chelsea scarf and grabs him by the collar. Thwarted at every turn, Dave eventually gets the ticket only to then be foolishly ripped off by a ticket tout and the series ends with both Dave and his Arsenal supporting rival being carted off by the police.
So is Bottle Boys a lost classic or deservedly despised?, probably neither actually, my scorecard for nine of the episodes, has four that are actually very funny and five that fall into being passable to pitiful, so maybe we should call it a draw. Powell obviously thought Bottle Boys could do for milkmen what On the Buses did for bus drivers and clippies. But while Reg Varney and Co may have got away with basing an episode around the horror at the idea of working with a woman in the early Seventies, the Eighties were a different kettle of fish, and in the age of alterative comedy and the Comic Strip its hard to deny that much of the material and attitudes here all seem very out of time. Dialogue that locks horns with the then current climate ("they'll be calling Manchester, Personchester next" moans Dave), just comes across as sour grapes, and only emphasizes how out of fashion, and under attack, this type of old school sitcom was. Bottle Boys isn't totally without charm though, Askwith is his usual entertaining carnal klutz self, and several of the supporting characters also become endearing over the episodes, David Aukers's Billy, a sort of mixture of George Formby and a darts player, makes for a good sidekick, and Eve Ferret's secretary is also value for money with her bad spelling and multiple boyfriends continually getting up the nose of the uptight Stan. Of course, surely the "worst ever sitcom" would be one that fails to have any impact whatsoever, and ignored by public and critics alike would never be given a second glance from either people wishing to sneer at the past, or those who genuinely delight in digging up all manner of British tat. Bottle Boys, can at least lay claim to dodging the completely forgettable category, and lives on in all its disputable infamy. If Miss Ferret's hairdo wasn't hard enough to forget there is also THAT theme tune, which has a habit of replaying in your head, Telefon style, every time the title, or literally anything to do with milkmen is mentioned. While certainly no classic, at the end of the day, surely its better to be remembered with an affectionate cringe, than not at all.
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