YVONNE: Something will have to be done about Ted’s act. He’s getting positively revolting.
BARRY: Tonight he did the one about the two sailors and the gruyère cheese, followed that with the midget and the giraffe… and finished up with the one about the curate and the cucumber. Then in the same breath he introduced us, and we had to go straight on and do our Spring in Park Lane fantasy waltz. Well, Yvonne was in tears. I was so embarrassed I didn’t know where to put my face, let alone my feet.
YVONNE: He was distraught, Mr. Fairbrother. And let’s face it, Barry’s the last person in the world you could call po-faced.
JEFFREY: Yes, I do know what you mean. He was very near the knuckle tonight.
GLADYS: He’s been getting worse.
JEFFREY: To be fair on Ted, I think the audience eggs him on. He gets carried away.
YVONNE: A good comedian does not have to resort to filth and lewd innuendo.
BARRY: With Ted, it isn’t even innuendo. He says it.
– Hi-de-Hi!, “It’s a Blue World”
Good morning, campers. On we go, with our comparison of the 2000s DVD release of Hi-de-Hi! and its repeat this year on BBC Two afternoons. Previously, we took a look at the pilot. Then we investigated Series 1. This time, we manage to examine the whole of Series 2, 3, 4 and 5 – taking us right to the end of the Jeffrey Fairbrother years.
And in the middle of all this, we discover a moment where Hi-de-Hi! doesn’t even indulge in innuendo. It goes right out and says it.
As ever, the exact two versions we are comparing are:
- Series 2-5 broadcast as part of Afternoon Classics on BBC Two, between 30th August – 7th October 2016, and
- Series 1-2, Series 3-4, and Series 5-6, released on DVD by Playback between 2003 and 2006.
One thing which is immediately apparent is that as the series progresses, there are fewer and fewer different edits of the programme – indeed, many episodes are identical. Only the episodes with differences are listed here. All timings given are from the DVD version.
Series 2 Episode 4: On with the Motley
(16:37) An extremely odd edit. Just as Ted is leaving for his big chance with the talent scouts, the whole first section with the gang walking to the taxi is missing on the DVD, totalling 34 seconds of footage:
SYLVIA: Don’t forget Ted, as soon as you get back come in our chalet and tell us how it went.
TED: Right. Keep your champagne on ice. Spike – don’t put the suit in the boot. It’ll get all creased up. Put it on the front seat.
SPIKE: Sorry Ted.
Jeffrey and Gladys walk up.
JEFFREY: Er, Ted. I’ve been onto head office – they say if Spike does well tonight he can take over for the next ten Sundays. They’ll have to adjust the money, of course. Good luck.
TED: Thank you.
GLADYS: Here’s a bottle of champagne to drink your health.
TED: Thank you Gladys.
GLADYS: It was Mr. Fairbrother’s idea.
TED: Champagne, cigars, flowers? I feel like a bridegroom going on his honeymoon.
Peggy appears, running.
PEGGY: Wait for me!
There seems to be no obvious reason for this edit whatsoever. Certainly there’s no music which could cause an issue. Was this something done for timing reasons for broadcast once which accidentally made it onto the DVD?
Series 2 Episode 5: A Night Not To Remember
(13:57) Well, you didn’t have to wait long for the good stuff. At the beginning of the scene where Peggy wakes up Jeffrey after his rather eventful night, the repeat broadcast version removes a single word.
PEGGY: Mr. Partridge! Laundry morning! Got any laundry? Hi-de-hi!
MR. PARTRIDGE: Fuck off.
If we’re assuming the DVD is the original broadcast version, that means BBC1 on the 27th December 1981 broadcast the word “fuck” shortly after 7:15pm on a scripted audience sitcom, which is one of the best things which has ever happened in the entire world ever. True, Mr. Partridge is out of shot and the line is said with a groan, but listen out for it and it’s as clear as anything.
Sadly, this bit of fun didn’t sneak under the radar for the repeat this year. Still, the fact Mr. Partridge says this entirely out of shot means it’s an easy edit to do without any kind of nasty visual glitch – although the fact Mr. Partridge now just groans “off” and gets a laugh for it is rather strange. Maybe the line would have been better cut entirely, if it had to go.
Series 3 Episode 1: Nice People with Nice Manners
(26:35) Hooray, it’s music substitution time! On the broadcast version, when Spike gets to the party, we’re treated to “Jailhouse Rock”. The DVD replaces this with generic library music, presumably because they couldn’t clear the rights.
It’s done about as well as a music substitution can be done for a programme of this era. Though amusingly, when Spike walks into the party, Elvis is clearly visible on the cover of the record… meaning the DVD version of the episode now indicates Elvis is responsible for the utter dreck which then comes out the record player. Oh well.
Series 3 Episode 4: The Pay Off
(10:21) Another peculiar one. Throughout the film sequence where Fred first tells Peggy about his ill horses, there is some minor trimming of frames between certain shot changes, meaning the scene runs nearly a second shorter by the end. The odd thing about this is that it’s the DVD version which has the shots trimmed, rather than the repeat broadcast. Usually on Hi-de-Hi! it’s the other way around, with the repeat broadcast version being the one tightened up technically.
I have no explanation for this one, I’m afraid.
Series 4 Episode 3: Eruptions
The 1982 Christmas special was missed out of BBC Two’s repeat run this year, presumably as it wouldn’t fit the usual slot – it’s 45 minutes long instead of the usual 30. In the 2015 repeat run, this episode was very sensibly held back to air at Christmas, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be happening this year.
Whilst this episode is a lot of fun, unlike the Series 1 episode No Dogs Allowed there isn’t a huge amount of ongoing plot which is useful for the audience to know – although it does nicely develop the ongoing Jeffrey and Gladys situation.
Come to think of it, I’ve changed my mind. Deciding not to broadcast an episode featuring Peggy dressed up in a black jumpsuit and creeping round like a spy should become a criminal offence.
Series 4 Episode 6: Maplin Intercontinental
(4:33) Less than a second is shaved off a reaction shot of Peggy during the staff meeting on the repeat broadcast version, in the only change made to the episode.
No, I have no idea why anyone would bother either.
Series 5 Episode 6: Peggy’s Pen Friend
This episode was not shown at all in the 2016 repeat run. Not only that, but it wasn’t shown in the 2015 repeat run either. Oh dear.
Now, it has to be said that the opening scene has a rather obvious problem:
GLADYS: Don’t forget that tonight in the Hawaiian Ballroom it’s Black and White Minstrel Night. All the boys: come with black faces. Please – don’t use shoe polish. Burnt cork works a treat. Oh – and if you’re going for a midnight swim, wash it off first. We don’t want a cocoa-coloured pool in the morning.
To be fair, this is slightly difficult to cut. The scene is all done with one shot, and immediately after the above, Gladys starts talking about the chicken dish on offer that night – and then we cut to Fred and Mr. Partridge talking about it. On the other hand, if you grabbed a shot of a Maplin’s speaker from another episode, you could happily use that as a cutaway to disguise the needed edit.
But to be honest, this is one of those situations where I wish a warning could have been given before the episode, and then just leave the material intact. Especially considering that in the very next episode, Fred calls Mr. Partridge “a silly old faggot”, which happily made it to air. Mr. Partridge also uses the word “poof” in multiple episodes, and this is also considered fine.
My only other thought as to why this episode wasn’t shown is if there was a certain amount of squeamishness about the main plot of the episode: Peggy going on a date with a far older man. This seems a highly unlikely reason not to show the episode though, considering that Peggy is well into her twenties.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a huge shame this episode wasn’t shown, as it’s one of the strongest outings in what is the weakest series of the show up to this point.1 The final scene between Peggy and Gladys is not only a beautiful piece of writing and acting, but incredibly important when it comes to the relationship between those two characters. By skipping it, you’re missing out on some extremely important character development.
Series 5 Episode 7: The Epidemic
(10:06) During the scene where everyone is in Barry and Yvonne’s chalet, the following is present on the DVD version, but cut from the repeat broadcast:
SPIKE: I wasn’t smoking, Yvonne.
Everybody groans, and makes their way to the door.
YVONNE: [to Barry] The doctor will be around about two-thirty.
Cut to outside the chalet.
MR. PARTRIDGE: I dunno what she’s complaining about. [points to his pipe] That’s Captain Cuttle’s walnut shag. And it wouldn’t turn anything yellow.
FRED: What about a Chinaman?
YVONNE: Oh, how disgusting. I shall never get the smell of the smoke out of here.
BARRY: Don’t bother to ask me how I am, will you?
YVONNE: It’s happened before. You’ll be all right in a few days.
BARRY: May I remind you that our contract states that if we don’t perform, we do not get paid.
I think this is conclusive proof that the reason No Dogs Allowed from Series 1 wasn’t broadcast in this repeat run was that episode’s use of the word “Chinaman”.
Yet again I’d rather this hadn’t been cut, and a “contains language and views of the time” warning had been put in front of the episode instead. However, it’s such a fucking crap joke that I can’t bring myself to be too outraged that it was cut. At least the material in No Dogs Allowed had some kind of point when it came to character. This is just rubbish.
And as we reach the end of the Jeffrey Fairbrother years, that’s your lot for now. The pattern which I think is worth noting is the relative lack of changes this time around: across 26 episodes, there are only eight differences between the two versions. Contrast that with the pilot, which had more changes than that in a single episode. Indeed, no episode here has anything like the extensive re-edits we’ve seen in a few episodes. Everything rather seems to have settled down.
Join me next time, as we rejoin Maplins for the 1960 season. No, we can’t avoid that dickhead Clive Dempster. Sorry about that.
Series 5 is, of course, Simon Cadell’s final appearance on the show. Conventional wisdom is that the quality of the show goes downhill once he leaves. However, I think there’s a good argument that the rot sets in before then. Among other issues, Series 5 really develops the habit of episodes ending with a long film sequence, often to the detriment of the show’s atmosphere. The previous episode, The Graven Image, is one of the worst culprits when it comes to this – the whole last ten minutes of the show is on film, and it loses all momentum.
Is it possible that Cadell felt the same regarding the quality of the episodes, and it contributed to his decision to leave the series? ↩