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  Man About the House No Place Like Home
Year: 1974
Director: John Robins
Stars: Richard O'Sullivan, Paula Wilcox, Sally Thomsett, Brian Murphy, Yootha Joyce, Doug Fisher, Peter Cellier, Patrick Newell, Aimi MacDonald, Arthur Lowe, Michael Ward, Melvyn Hayes, Bill Maynard, Spike Milligan, Michael Robbins, Norman Mitchell, Bill Pertwee
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: At number 6 Myddleton Terrace there live three flatmates, Robin (Richard O'Sullivan), Chrissy (Paula Wilcox) and Jo (Sally Thomsett). Although the flat is small, and the bathroom is probably not big enough for three people as they realise every morning, they're happy enough with the situation. Their landlord is Mr Roper (Brian Murphy) who stays in the flat below with his nagging wife Mildred (Yootha Joyce), and he is always on the lookout for more money, so when a large corporation starts to buy up the homes on the terrace with a view to knocking them down and building an office block on the site, he is only prevented from accepting their offer by his wife...

After the runaway (or driveaway) success that Hammer films experienced with the On the Buses spin offs, the natural thing to do, what with Dracula not pulling in the punters as he once did, was to adapt more sitcoms for the big screen. And so it came to pass that one of the biggest ITV sitcoms of the era made the transition, scripted by the programme's creators Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke, who had conjured up a string of popular comedies for the channel. And as usual with the film versions of these things, it's not quite the same as you remembered the original being.

For the first half hour, Man about the House settles into pretty much a self-contained episode to set the scene. So there is a comedy, high speed, bad driving bit of business with Robin's friend Larry (Doug Fisher) giving him a lift to his cookery classes and taking Robin and Chrissy's lives in his hands in the process. After the classes, Robin goes to work at a greasy restaurant where he is dismayed at the hygiene habits, or lack of them, of the chef (Bill Maynard), but is intrigued by his tale of a game of strip poker he once played with two attractive young women.

Naturally this gives Robin an idea of a recreation to be pursued with Chrissy and Jo, as you'll see everyone has a one track mind in this film. And for comedy purposes he is the one who ends up without his clothes while cards expert Chrissy and opting out Jo remain fully clothed. If that sexual tension isn't enough for you, then downstairs, as in the series, Mildred is in a bad mood, constantly sniping at her impotent husband for not satisfying her. And in amongst all this are the jokes so typical of their time, with misprints in The Guardian rubbing shoulders with the local M.P.(Patrick Newell) who has a kept woman (Aimi MacDonald) in one of the terrace's houses.

Robin's exotic cuisine is lost on everyone where most people's idea of a restaurant meal was prawn cocktail followed by Steak Diane and Black Forest Gateau to finish, but there's humorous dating mishaps to add flavour. Yet unlike the original, it looks as if Robin and Chrissy might actually get it together, and even though they don't quite, this doesn't seem right somehow. The whole point was that despite that whole two ladies living with one man set up, which was a pretty saucy idea in the seventies, Robin doesn't have a chance with either of them and from there the humour arises, so when genuine romance is introduced the magic evaporates.

Apart from that, there's not a chance that anyone will get lucky, and the terrace demolition storyline hits its stride climaxing in an own-trumpet-blowing finale at Thames Studios where Roper is trying to get his newly signed contract to the developer (Peter Cellier) on the Today show before the others can stop him. Here there are cameos from a few TV stars, including Bill Grundy of Sex Pistols interview fame and Spike Milligan, who appears to have written his own material (he impresses Jo, anyway). Despite not having the same number of laughs as its predecessor, Man About the House has its moments with the same appealing cast, but as is so often the case you'd be better off with the series. Incidentally, if you'd never heard of Love Thy Neighbour you'd think Roper had gone completely mad when he meets Jack Smethurst and Rudolph Walker. Music by Christopher Gunning, which, alas, doesn't include the classic theme tune.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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