BritCom coming: "Till Death Us Do Part" - the inspiration for All in the Family

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Lambert, Feb 27, 2002.

  1. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I've already posted this info in an "All In The Family" thread, but I was afraid it would get lost in the shuffle, so I'm posting it separately, as this is a separate item, really. Also, I have more background info:
    BFS Entertainment has licensed this series from the BBS, and is putting out a 189-minute box set for an SRP of $39.98. Street date is March 26th, same as All in the Family.
    They do not specify how many episodes it contains, nor if this is a season set, a best-of, or what. It comes with 2 DVDs, in what looks (from the picture) like a 2-keepcase box set rather than a digipak. Content-wise, it only states that the Special Features are that it "Includes Special Christmas Episode, Biographies, Selected Filmographies, Interactive Menus, Scene Selection". It doesn't specify exactly that this is Region 1, but I will presume it is, since I'm looking at the full-page ad for it on the back cover page of the new (2/17-2/23) issue of Video Store Magazine.
    I went to the BFS website and located that same ad on-line. Although the lay-out is arranged differently, it is exactly the same info and cover art and everything, just minus 5 "screen-shot" pics (including one character, Else Garnett, that looks a LOT like Edith Bunker!). If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed and can read .PDF files, I'm including a link to their online ad here. If not, you can get it free via a link at the BFS page I linked to at the start of this post.
    I don't see the set available for preorder anywhere yet, but that follows as it is just hitting the trade magazine now. This is probably a last-minute effort to capitalize on AITF's release, but it IS a piece of TV history in many ways. Here's more about the show:
    The main character in TDudP wasn't named Archie Bunker; he was called Alf Garnett. Writer Johnnie Speight, who died in 1998, was the writer for TDudP and was tapped to create AitF, and only had two big shows in his life...these were them. The rest of the Garnett family were wife Else (clearly Edith's inspiration), daughter Rita, and her boyfriend Mike (yep; same first name as Gloria Bunker's soon-to-be husband). Interestingly, the alternate title for TDudP was Alf 'n' Family [​IMG] . AitF and TDudP were fairly close in design, just based on American vs. British sensabilities and subject matters. Instead of being bigoted against Blacks and "Polacks" like Archie Bunker was, Alf Garnett would aim his venom at the Irish and French, is my understanding (I've never actually seen the show; perhaps anyone who has can clear this up for us).
    Taking a few quotes from the .PDF file and ad I mentioned and linked to:
    "Before Archie Bunker, there was Alf Garnett: narrow-minded, profane and unafraid to let everyone know exactly what he thinks and loudly...Alf is always at war with someone or something. His barbs are aimed at royalty, religion, race, politics and frequently, at his own family. The biting humour and jaw-dropping parody of "Till Death Us Do Part" did not do much to soften the controversy that continually swirled around the series. The Garnetts were an unlovable clan and their story lines had never before been explored on television. During its ten-year run, everyone from religious leaders to politicians, the media and even the network itself regularly knocked the show. However, the public loved Alf in all his red-faced, bombastic glory...Entertainment would never be the same!"
    Another interesting thing to me was that this show regularly had on it actor Brian Blessed. If that name rings a bell to you, he played Prince Vultan (leader of the Hawkmen; bearded gruff flying fellow who hated Tim Dalton's character) in the Sam Jones/Max Von Sydow version of Flash Gordan. He was later in the British TV series Black Adder, then went back to films with High Road to China, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Lord Locksley), and even Waiting for Godot (there's an HTF contingent who loves that film, you've probably noticed). Most recently he played the voices of Boss Nass (ruler of JarJar's people) in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and bad guy Hunter Clayton in Disney's Tarzan. I've always noticed and liked this actor, and to see him in something more...mundane...less "action-ish", might be interesting.
    This is television history coming to DVD (although perhaps in a "cashing-in" kind of way). A UK show - one of the original "Britcoms" - that was a classic in and of itself, but also was the inspiration for one of America's top all-time favorite shows. Here is the IMDB url for it: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0065105.
    So, now...for those of you familiar with this show: as a big fan of All In The Family, do you think I will find it worthwhile to track this down and spend SRP $39.98 for this box set (disc quality issues aside, of course)? Was the show as good as all that, or should I just stick to the American spinoff?
     
  2. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    I'm very interested in purchasing this DVD. The only problem is I have also never seen an episode of this series. I'm hoping that there is someone here who has and can tell us some more.
     
  3. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    I just pre-ordered this at DeepDiscount DVD for only $21.53 shipped. Great Deal!
     
  4. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the feedback, Bruce...anyone else?
     
  5. Neil White

    Neil White Supporting Actor

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    I second Bruce's comments.
    FYI - The show returned after a break I think and was retitled "In Sickness and In Health."
    Alf Garnett is priceless. You'll need to understand Cockney Rhyming Slang if I remember correctly to appreciate some of the humour.
    You gotta feast your "minces" on this one... [​IMG]
    N
     
  6. Duncan Harvey

    Duncan Harvey Stunt Coordinator

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    From memory (and I could well be wrong on many of these “facts”) the show started on the BBC in the mid 60s in black and white and was an overnight sensation due to the hard hitting nature of the satire. Tory supporting Alf ranted against blacks, Irish and anyone else who didn’t fit in with his world view. As ever Alf was always the one who looked the fool, consistently sparring with his “Scouse git” son in law (played by the father in law of Prime Minister Tony Blair)

    In real life Warren Mitchell (who plays Alf) is a socialist and he always found it bemusing that he was asked to open fetes etc by Conservative associations!

    The show ran for about 10 years moving to colour in 1969 or 1970. Unfortunately like so many of the BBCs output in the 60s, most of the b/w episodes no longer exist – maybe only 2 or 3 plus some clips. The colour episodes are still around however and were repeated on a satellite channel in the early 90s.

    The show was revived on the British commercial network ITV a few years later (now called “Till Death”) but its real second coming was in the 80s when the BBC revived it as “In Sickness And In Health”. Dandy Nichols who played Else, Alf’s long suffering wife was in very poor health however and she died after the first or second series had been made. This didn’t deter Alf however and he continued for several more series.

    Warren Mitchell has to some degree been totally taken over by his Alf persona in the public eye, but away from Alf he is recognised as a superb character actor and a definitive Willy Lomax on the stage.

    Due to the fact the the best episodes no longer exist, I don’t know whether this is going to be more than a curio but its good to see it coming out.

    Maybe R1 will also get Steptoe and Son, the model for Stanford and Son in the future.
     
  7. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Great info, all...THANKS!
    I might snag it for that low low $21-ish price Jay got it for! [​IMG]
     

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