JEFFREY: Hello campers. Hi-de-hi.
JEFFREY Yes folks. This is a big one. One of the high spot… lights of the week. Holiday Princess competition. Now now Dads put down your binoculars. Hi-de-hi.
TED: Get him off, somebody.
JEFFREY: And here to act as your Master of Ceremonies is your friend… and indeed he’s my friend as well… Ted Bovis.
– Hi-de-Hi!, “The Beauty Queen Affair”
With an introduction like that, this article can’t fail to disappoint. I’m afraid the Holiday Princess competition is nowhere to be seen. Instead, let’s get back into our series of articles looking at the differences between the DVD release of Hi-de-Hi!, and the recent BBC Two Afternoon Classics run of the show. Last time: the pilot. This time: Series 1, in all its “one of the best series of a sitcom ever made” glory.
To recap, then. The two versions of the programme we are comparing are:
- Series 1, broadcast as part of Afternoon Classics on BBC Two, between 23rd – 29th August 2016, and
- Series 1, released on DVD by Playback as part of this three-DVD set in March 2003.1
Off we go. Cut sections are detailed like this, though take note of exactly which edit they are cut from – this time round, both the DVD and the broadcast versions have different sections removed. All times given are from the DVD.
Episode 1: Desire in the Mickey Mouse Grotto
(15:26) An entire two and a half minute sequence set in the Hawaiian Ballroom is cut on DVD. This features Marty Storm singing “Love Me Tender” throughout, which presumably couldn’t be cleared due to music rights. Here’s what’s missing:
MARTY: # Love me tender, Love me long, Take me to your heart. #
As the song continues, a waitress serves drinks to a table. Jeffrey approaches Gladys.
GLADYS: Oh, hello Jeffrey. There’s nice. Dead distinguished, you look.
JEFFREY: I feel so awkward. What am I supposed to do?
GLADYS: Just go round the tables and ask the campers if they’re enjoying themselves.
He goes up to a table of old folk.
A nasty pause.
JEFFREY: You having a good time?
Jeffrey slowly realises he is grabbing the breast of an elderly lady.
JEFFREY: I’m terribly sorry madam, I thought it was the chair. Oh, yes, Hi-de-hi.
A SOLITARY GUEST AT THE TABLE: Ho-de-ho.
Jeffrey walks over to Peggy.
JEFFREY: Evening Peggy. Are you having a good time?
PEGGY: Oh yes. I’m to be found every night at this table. I live life to the full. I like to stay up all hours.
She pops a cocktail cherry in her mouth. Jeffrey smiles and makes to leave. Peggy gets up.
PEGGY: Mr. Fairbrother – I want to talk to you about my future.
JEFFREY: No no no, not now, Peggy – I’ve got to mix with the campers.
He walks off… and spots Sylvia. She hands him a glass.
SYLVIA: I got you a martini. I saw you drinking it last night.
JEFFREY: Thank you very much indeed. Your health.
Gladys is watching, upset. Jeffrey notices her, and – obvlivious – raises his glass.
MARTY: # For my darlin’ I love you, And I always will. #
Marty walks off, to applause. Ted appears.
TED: Marty Storm, Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley. And now, we come to the classy part of the cabaret. Give a big hand to your resident ballroom champions: Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves.
We should perhaps be grateful that no information crucial to the plot was given during this sequence. And whilst there are plenty of character moments – Peggy attempting to talk to Jeffrey about being a Yellowcoat, for instance – the same beats are covered elsewhere in the series, so it doesn’t feel like much is missing. Though it is a great shame to lose Jeffrey accidentally groping an elderly lady.
This sequence does bring up the question of why Marty Storm is in this episode, mind – as he’s gone entirely by next week. It would be understandable if he’d just shown up the previous year in the pilot, and then the show had decided the character wasn’t needed. But to drag the actor back a year later for a single episode where he wasn’t crucial to the plot… and then suddenly get rid of him next week? It seems an odd production decision at best. Why waste the screen time on him if you weren’t going to use him after this episode?
Episode 2: The Beauty Queen Affair
Both repeat broadcast and DVD versions are identical. Hooray!
Episode 3: The Partridge Season
Bit of an odd one, this. As far as I can tell, both versions are identical… with just one tiny change. On the repeat, the end credits music starts slightly earlier than the DVD version. The ending does have a rather nasty pause before the music kicks in, and this tightens things somewhat. Much like what happened to the pilot, I suspect this was a change made years later, and the DVD is the original version.
There is a bit of a problem with this, though – although the music starts earlier, the visuals remain the same. The credits were originally designed to change on the beat of a note; whilst this still happens, they now change a lyric line later than originally designed. It still works, but is less natural than the original. It makes more sense to change to the next credit slide at the beginning of a verse, rather than halfway through.
Episode 4: The Day of Reckoning
Quite a few things removed from the repeat broadcast version:
(14:11) A short exchange when Peggy listens to the two criminals:
Peggy rushes into next-door’s chalet and grabs a glass.
PEGGY: All the world loves a lover.
She puts it against the wall, and listens.
MRS. ARMITAGE: When we gonna do it, then?
MR. ARMITAGE: Well, it’ll have to be at night. Won’t be in the daytime, we don’t want to be disturbed. I mean we could wait three days, find out all we can about everything, and then pull it off in about 20 minutes.
MRS. ARMITAGE: Best time to do the hit is when they’re all in the ballroom for Goodnight Campers.
MR. ARMITAGE: Yeah, by the time they’ve found out and called the police, we’ll be miles away.
MRS. ARMITAGE: What you gonna do if you get spotted?
This is actually a great cut, if you’re determined to meddle. The deleted lines give away far too much about the criminals at this point in the show; the deletion heightens the mystery a tad.
(14:41) The shot of Peggy running to find Ted is shortened by a couple of seconds in the repeat broadcast version, which includes her nearly running into someone playing mini-golf and shouting “Excuse me!” Odd that someone would bother making this cut; it doesn’t improve or detract from the show, making the change pointless.
(19:48) Three seconds are cut from the repeat broadcast version of the shot where Peggy walks to see Fred in his chalet, including her saying “Hi-de-hi!” to a couple of campers. Again, strange that anyone would think this was worth doing.
(21:19) Some frames are shaved off a wide shot of the ballroom in the repeat broadcast – to remove a rather unpleasant jump cut present on the DVD version. The soundtrack is fixed flawlessly too. This fix very much indicates this edit is a tightening for technical reasons done at some point after the initial broadcast.
(23:05) A single line of dialogue is cut from the broadcast version, from when Spike asks Mrs. Armitage to dance: “I don’t wanna dance with a snail!” This was clearly cut to get rid of a nasty bit of film damage in the original, as present on the DVD. As above, this indicates this version of the episode was tightened for technical reasons.
Much like the pilot – and as far as I can tell, unlike any other episode this series – the repeat broadcast of this episode also has plenty of additional audience laughter compared to the DVD. Just a few examples include: when Mr. Armitage tells Peggy they’d “rather not be disturbed”; when Ted informs Jeffrey that “Fred’s not had tea in the nursery and spilt jelly down his front”; when Sylvia tells Gladys “Yes, and you’re managing very well, too”; and when Fred says “I’m staying back here” during the handover.
Most blatantly of all, however, is on the final line of the episode:
Going back in and adding additional laughs to the episode years after the fact makes me this: uncomfortable.
Episode 5: Charity Begins at Home
Another episode with merely a single change. Just like The Partridge Season, the broadcast version is tightened up so the end credits music starts earlier, though the visuals remain identical.
Unfortunately, the end result is even worse than The Partridge Season, as each change to the next credit now matches no beat whatsoever, and is all over the shop. It looks an absolute mess. This is the kind of thing people do when they think they’re fixing things, and end up causing an even worse problem. I’d happily take a slightly longer pause than is necessary at the end of the show, than force the whole credit sequence to be mistimed.
Episode 6: No Dogs Allowed
Sadly, this episode was omitted from the BBC Two repeat run this year entirely. Not only that, but it was also omitted from the Afternoon Classics run in 2015 as well. This is very frustrating, as it’s one of the most important episodes in the first series in terms of the ongoing plot – it’s the first episode to really concentrate on Jeffrey’s marriage problems. Arguably, it’s the single most important episode of Series 1 when it comes to ramifications in future episodes. Moreover, it’s the first time we see everyone singing “Goodnight Campers” rather than just hearing about it, which is an iconic moment for the show.
However, I think from watching the episode, we can figure out why it wasn’t shown. I have no proof, but I suspect this is the reason:
TED: I want a word with you. And it’s in secret.
PEGGY: I know. Mr. Fairbrother’s in the white slave trade, and he’s luring girls into his chalet and offering them longterm contracts to harems in South America.
TED: You’re very nearly right. But it’s not girls. It’s Chinamen.
TED: Does it not strike you as strange that a university professor would come to a dump like this?
PEGGY: Very suspicious.
TED: How many Chinese restaurants are there in England?
PEGGY: Oh, there must be hundreds.
TED: Exactly. Now when he was at Cambridge, he stumbled on a Chinese plot to take over the country.
TED: Everybody thinks there’s just a couple of Chinamen in each restaurant. Not a bit of it. Their cellars are packed with ’em.
Oh dear oh dear.
PEGGY: Poor souls.
TED: They let ’em out two a a time, to do their shopping. Nobody knows any difference. Cos they all look the same.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
The problem is, I don’t see any way you could cut around this material. If it was just what I quoted above, you could pretty much cut it entirely with no problems. Unfortunately, there’s a callback to the material in pretty much the worst place possible.
Here’s how the episode ends, with Ted marching into Jeffrey’s office, about to commit blackmail with a photograph of him frolicing with a dog. (It’s not quite as bad as that sounds.)
TED: Right, Mr. Fairbrother…
JEFFREY: Ah, Ted, I’m glad you popped in – I’ve been on to head office. You don’t have to wear a yellowcoat.
TED: Oh. Thanks, Mr. Fairbrother.
GLADYS: Time and again he was onto them. But he managed to talk them round in the end.
JEFFREY: Yes. You got something to show me?
TED: No… not in front of Gladys. It’s a bit strong. As a matter of fact I picked it up in a Chinese restaurant.
HA HA, DO YOU GET IT, CHINESE PEOPLE EAT DOGS. And thus the episode doesn’t get shown due to a fucking crap joke.
To be honest, I’d rather the BBC had just stuck a “language and views of its time” warning in front of the episode, and transmitted it in full. Especially seeing as this is BBC Two afternoons, and not primetime BBC One. Moreover, I think the context of the material – Ted trying to concoct a tall tale for Peggy – lessens the potential offence somewhat. It’s supposed to be entirely ridiculous and not even remotely believable.
On the other hand, I get why they might be nervous to show it – especially with that “they all look the same” line – and I see no way of cutting the episode effectively to remove this material. Certainly, missing out the episode entirely is better than showing a bastardised version – how the hell could you cut the final line of the episode without it appearing utterly ridiculous? But it remains a shame that such a vital episode to the ongoing plot of the show wasn’t shown.
And that’s your lot. It has to be said, it’s rather a mixed bag this time round. Between one episode having a scene removed on the DVD, two episodes having the end credits retimed, one episode having a full technical re-edit with additional laughter added, and one episode not being shown at all, it’s all a bit of a jumble.
I do find it fascinating that it’s only The Day of Reckoning which shows signs of extensive work done on it for the repeat broadcast. Were the other episodes ever altered in this way, but somehow weren’t repeated in that form this time round? Or did the other episodes never have this kind of alteration done, and it was only The Day of Reckoning which was they felt required these changes? For the answers to these, we need paperwork, not me painstakingly going through DVDs and comparing them to what’s broadcast. In the meantime, this article stands as a record of what was actually broadcast for this repeat run.
Join me next time for Part 3, as we continue through the Jeffrey Fairbrother years. Spoiler: he doesn’t have a very good time.