Seven of One – Another Fine Mess

mess

Sydney (Roy Castle) and  Harry (Barker) are keen to head off to the talent night at the Dirty Dachshund, but Harry’s ogre of a wife – Doris (Avis Bunnage) – doesn’t want him to go.  A few extra sleeping pills helps to ensure she sleeps like a baby, enabling Sydney and Harry to transform themselves into the spitting image of Laurel and Hardy and slip out into the night  …

Even before they’ve dressed up it should be fairly to easy to guess the direction that this one will take (the episode title is a bit of a giveaway too).  It’s a little strange that Sydney and Harry both talk and act like Laurel and Hardy in real life (meaning that their characters stay exactly the same once they’ve got the clothes on).  The opening finds Doris mourning the death of her mother, who passed away earlier in the day.  This provides the opportunity for Doris and her guests to poor scorn on Harry, who we’re told was an American GI (that explains why he talks like Olivier Hardy).  This part feels a little stilted.  A family bereavement offers plenty of comic potential, but Hugh Leonard’s script never really sparks during these scenes.

But once Roy Castle turns up and the pair decide to head out for the talent show, things pick up.  Slapstick humour abounds, even if Castle’s Sydney is a lot duller than Stan Laurel.  En-route to the talent show they spot a damsel in distress, Edwina (Pauline Delaney), and go to her aid.  She’s rather intoxicated, and curiously also seems to be American, and the pair decide to see her home.  Delaney (Mrs Mortimer in Public Eye, alongside a good many other roles) is amusing as the vampish Edwina, and her arrival on the scene enables Leonard to spring the big setpiece ending as Sydney and Harry demolish her flat.

Setting her electric fire ablaze, fun with soda-siphons and a nicely cued sequence where a chain of events ensure that one disaster follows another – like a row of dominos – all draw appreciative laughter from the audience.  It’s the moment where Another Fine Miss really springs into life and both Barker and Castle seem to be having a ball.

It’s hard to imagine this one as a series, every week they’d dress up as Laurel and Hardy and get into scrapes?   Hmm, maybe not, but as a one-off it certainly has its moments.

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