Saturday, 13 April 2019

A Comedy On This Day: The Liver Birds - Birds In The Club (14 April 1972)

 Another one of the handful of non-Carla Lane episodes by David Pursall and Jack Seddon, unique to series three. There's something a bit askew about it tonally, with both girls rather more airheaded and disengaged from the rest of the world than usual. Its very much a caper storyline about Sandra being entered into a rugby club Miss Hotpants 1972 competition, and her attempts to lose weight in order to be in with a chance of winning it. This lightweight tale is not helped by its hotpant-splitting climax being a very poorly-realised moment, where Sandra's ruse of padding herself up with a towel is exposed in a movement that fails to hide that the towel can't physically fit inside the hotpants...

 Sandra's boyfriend this week is David (Gan from Blake's 7) Jackson as a rugby player, and the most interesting part of the script is the initial scene in the club bar, in which the male authors use the two girls to investigate codes of masculinity. The episode starts with the striking image of the rugby players around the piano bellowing a sexist song, while all the bar tables are occupied by their ignored womenfolk. As Beryl says, the players talk about women, sing about women, tell jokes about women, but they never actually spend any time with women. Beryl and Sandra try to pass the time by joining in the manly pursuit of beer drinking, with some physical comedy created by the idea of women handling pints. Although as they're drinking from the old-fashioned heavy dimpled glasses with handles they have my sympathy in finding them difficult to pick up.

 (The greatest excitement that I derived from this episode was watching Nerys Hughes use an old Cadbury's chocolate vending machine with the drawers. Although it was always maddening on the frequent occasions when they took your money and then wouldn't give you chocolate, these are definitely one thing from the past that I'd love to come back. Especially because of the dainty special vending-size bars, with their eight little squares in foil and paper and the exciting options of otherwise unavailable varieties like peppermint and tiffin.)

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