Teddy Brown (Marty Feldman) works in advertising, but he's never spearheaded a campaign before, and doesn't feel like he's ready to take the opportunity to do so. He has enough to worry about at home anyway, as his son has just been found to be a stealer of the au pair's knickers, and Teddy's wife Liz (Judy Cornwell) is dismayed to see her leave because of it. Where can the little boy be picking up such bad behaviour - and bad language, for that matter? Liz points to the television, which is unfortunate in light of Teddy's latest assignment...
Marty Feldman had started in comedy as a writer, but his unmistakable features made him a natural for the screen, leading to his successful television work. Hoping to expand into the cinema, this film was the result, for which he brought his regular co-writers Barry Took and Denis Norden on board to help create the script, like many talents of the day hailing from the goggle box taking the landscape of television as their inspiration, either by adapting what had worked there for their movies or by actually using its setting for the butt of the jokes.
Expert editor Jim Clark was the man directing, and helping Feldman in front of the camera was an array of recognisable faces, although some would go on to be easier to recollect that others, with Cornwell for one receiving her most celebrated role in sitcom Keeping Up Appearances many years later. Also destined for sitcom success were Patrick Cargill as the M.P. who joins Liz's morality crusade (Father Dear Father would be his signature series) and Penelope Keith as the German lesbian au pair instigated after a major misunderstanding (The Good Life and To the Manor Born beckoned later in the decade for her).
So the ability was there both before and behind the scenes, so why did Every Home Should Have One get such a bad reputation? It could have been something to do with what ironically garners Teddy so much trouble in the story: it took to sexing up what was seen as a family entertainer, not that Feldman was many people's sex symbol, but he did appear naked in this, accompanied by the British idea of the Scandinavian sexpot of this era, Julie Ege, who played the replacement au pair who gets Teddy into so much trouble when Liz finds him in bed with her after a raucous party that Liz did not attend.
Actually, although it did have a tendency to labour its points, this did contain a good number of very funny lines and sketches (in the form of Teddy's imaginings) as our hero was entrusted to put a sexual angle on the advertising of frozen porridge just as his wife has joined a bunch of religious types hoping to stamp out smut from the British media. The moralists were portrayed as a bunch of repressed weirdoes who have no real experience of what they're complaining about, except for Liz, who is simply misguided due to Teddy's fumbling of his job (and Julie Ege). But for the finale, which offered Feldman the chance to stage the kind of slapstick his idol Buster Keaton might have done, it is revealed the establishment are as hypocritical as the prudes, if not more so, and a common ground is reached for Teddy if not many others. It might have been a bit obvious, but the laughs were there, as was the innovation, as were the cartoons, as was the toothpaste car, making this ripe for rediscovery. Music by John Cameron.