Monday, 11 July 2016

441 Tales From A Long Room

First  viewed  : Spring  1980

If   Your  Life  In  Their  Hands   was   unpalatable  then  a  continuous  loop  of  this,  which  followed  it  on  a  couple  of  Thursdays , would  be  part  of  my  Room  101  nightmare.  That  actually  seems  a  little  churlish  since  there  was  only  half  an  hour  of  it  spread  over  two  weeks.

Tales  from  a  Long  Room  started  out as  a  comic  novel  by  Peter  Tinniswood  the  writer  of  the  successful  late seventies  comedy  series  I  Didn't  Know  You  Cared  . It  was  basically  the  reminiscences  of  a  blinkered , half-senile , xenophobic  Brigadier  in  a  village  called  Witney  Scrotum  who  gets  important   world  events  mixed  up  with  cricket  matches. He  was  played  by  Robin  Bailey  who'd  made  his  name  by  playing  cantankerous  old  Yorkshireman  Uncle  Mort   in  IDKYC.

There's  one  word  in  there  which  explains   my  aversion  to  it. I  have  a  lifelong  detestation  of   cricket  and  its  attendant  culture  which  comes  from  my  dad  hogging  the  television  set , which  otherwise  he  affected  to  disdain,  and  radio  during  the  summer  holidays. Cricket  came  with  dry  old  bores  talking  about  nothing  in  particular  and  impenetrable  jargon. Worst  of  all  matches  went  on  forever  and  at  the  end  of  them  the  weather might  have   decided   the  outcome. Playing  it  was  slightly  more  interesting  but  still  involved  large  stretches  where  you  stood  around  not  doing  very  much.

I've  no  doubt  Tinniswood's  scripts  were  sharp  and  witty  if  you  were  in  the  know  but  once  cricket  was  involved,  the  shutters  came  down  for  me  I'm  afraid.

The  series,  if  you  can  call  it  that,  was   repeated  in  1981  and  1982 . There  were  also  two  five  part  radio  adaptations  - again  with   Bailey- broadcast  in  those  two  years. One  of  them  was  re-broadcast  to  mark  Tinniswood's  passing  in  2003.

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