The Jubilee Social Club has a barmaid - the pretty 'Maggie' ( Carol Mills ) - and a new bottle collector in the shape of 'Albert' ( John Moore ), an old tramp on whom Nobby has taken pity. When Eddie boasts to his friends about his Christian values, Bill bets him a pound he won't take Albert into his home as a lodger. To save face, Eddie agrees. On catching sight of the dishevelled Albert, he is horrified. Joan seems happy to have him in their home, giving Albert a hot bath, and Eddie's best suit to wear. He looks better in it than Eddie himself! Furthermore, the old feller seems rather knowledgeable. So who is he really?
Adele Rose penned this last edition, and a rather good one it is too, with John Moore giving a rather touching performance as the old man. When his son 'Ronnie' ( Malcolm Rogers ) turns up, it transpires that Albert, determined to prove that he could survive without help, ran away and took to the open road.
Funniest moment - Eddie's attempt to cook coq au vin!
And that was the end. Not quite the end as it turned out. In the summer of 1978, the 'Love Thy Neighbour' movie received its first I.T.V. network showing. Then, in 1980, Eddie ( sans Joan, Bill, Jacko and co. ) flew to Australia for a short-lived spin-off, in which he moved into the Sydney suburb of Blacktown ( oh dear! ), became a lodger with the Smith family ( Robert Hughes and Sue Jones ), and found himself living next-door to a boorish Aussie ( Russell Newman ) with a life-long hatred of 'Poms'. Vince Powell co-wrote it with Ken Sterling, and William G.Stewart directed, but only seven episodes were made, and were screened in Britain two years later ( usually late at night ).
I'm not entirely sure when the hatred for 'Neighbour' began. As late as 1987, the movie was still being shown on I.T.V. ( I saw it one Friday afternoon ). It looks as though it coincided with the arrival on our screens in the '90's of that ubiquitous ( and tiresome ) genre - the retro programme ( of which Dominic Sandbrook's 'The 70's is the latest ). Suddenly we had the likes of Vanessa Feltz ( of all people ) angrily denouncing the show as an 'abomination' ( rather like that sub-Jerry Springer tripe she used to do in the mornings ), and a few out-of-context clips have helped give it a reputation as a 'racist' show. Even some of its stars - Jack Smethurst and Kate Williams - have been quoted as being unhappy that they were ever in it. If so, it is a great shame, as they were a major part of its success. When we now have Ricky Gervais openly insulting the mentally handicapped, it seems incredible that 'Neighbour' is still considered 'unacceptable' viewing. So don't expect any repeats in the foreseeable future ( U.K. Gold was brave enough to run the first two seasons in 1997, each edition prefaced by a warning about Eddie's views ). Mel Brooks' 'Blazing Saddles' ( 1973 ) also pokes fun at racists, yet still ( rightly so ) gets air-play. Luckily for us, the whole run of 'Neighbour' is on D.V.D. Interviewed by 'The T.V. Times' in 1976, Smethurst said that 'most people disagreed with Eddie's attitudes'. So much for claims that this very funny show was a back-door recruitment film for the National Front. As Eddie himself might say to Feltz and her sorry ilk: "Knickers!".
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