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it ain’t half hot mum

21.01.19

It Ain’t Half A Missing Pilot Title Sequence Mum

Posted 21st January 2019

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Today, I want to talk about It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Not the sad death of Windsor Davies, or whether the programme is racist1. This is Dirty Feed, and I have higher things in mind.

The show premiered in January 1974 on BBC1 with a first series of eight episodes.2 The first episode, however, was a true pilot, recorded a full year before air, and separately from the other seven episodes. David Croft’s autobiography, You Have Been Watching…, p. 196:

“The first pilot programme in January 1973 went very well with the studio audience and featured probably the smallest riot ever experienced by the British in India. There was no room in the studio for a proper full-scale riot mob, and we couldn’t afford one anyway. I made do with about ten shadowy figures in the foreground, but the result didn’t bear examination.3 I was present at the odd riot in India and they are extremely frightening affairs. Police and troops are usually heavily outnumbered and very scared, so ghastly mistakes can easily happen. The remainder of the show was a good pilot and served to introduce the characters and the general thrust of the plots, as any pilot should.”

Despite being shot at a different time to the rest of the series, there really are very few differences between that pilot episode Meet the Gang, and the rest of Series 1. But there is one major change: the closing titles. In the pilot, the gang song is all shot on VT in the studio. For the rest of Series 1, it was completely remounted on film.

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  1. That’s a 50,000 word article, which I am frankly disinclined to write. 

  2. Attention boring people: no, not six episodes, despite your claims that every UK sitcom series contains six shows. 

  3. Reading this, it is perhaps not surprising that when You Rang, M’Lord? allowed Croft to go to town on the battle sequence at the beginning, he really fucking did so

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23.12.11

The Road to Bannu

Posted 23rd December 2011

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With David Croft’s death earlier this year, there has been much talk of how his shows proved that audience sitcom works best if, y’know, it’s actually about something. (You may have thought that was fairly obvious, but hey, it’s a start.) Indeed, one of my favourite sitcom episodes of all time is It Ain’t Half Hot Mum‘s final episode in 1981, The Last Roll Call, which deals with demobilisation – a weighty topic which people used to trust audience sitcom with at one point.

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