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  For the Love of Ada Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?
Year: 1972
Director: Ronnie Baxter
Stars: Irene Handl, Wilfred Pickles, Barbara Mitchell, Jack Smethurst, Arthur English, Larry Martyn, Hilda Braid, Andrea Lawrence, David Collings, Nancy Nevinson, Donald Bisset, Duggie Brown, Rose Power, Johnnie Wade, John Boxer, Arthur Whyte, Gareth Hunt
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is morning and the milkman is on his rounds, driving around mostly deserted streets in his float until he reaches the home of Walter Bingley (Wilfred Pickles) and the old man invites him in for a cup of tea he gladly accepts, at least until he notices when Walter pours it out that it seems as if the cuppa has been stewing for hours, such is its dark hue. In their conversation, the milkman inquires how his wife Ada (Irene Handl) is, and he reveals it is their first anniversary, the couple have been married for a second time when they were each widowed. Marital bliss has ensued, and as the milkman makes his excuses to avoid another eyewatering tea experience, Walter mentions he has something special planned...

For the Love of Ada started life as a shortlived but fondly remembered sitcom from the pens of comedy team Vince Powell and Harry Driver. The latter was to die the year after the film version was made as he was dogged by poor health, but not before he and his writing partner marked out their territory as unpretentious chroniclers of working class humour, though this would get Powell into trouble as tastes changed and he was accused of poor choices in such later sitcoms as Love Thy Neighbour (which sent up racism) and Mind Your Language (which sent up funny foreigners - or rather wallowed in them). It's difficult to see anyone having such issues with this, however, which was almost determinedly inoffensive.

In fact, the two pensioners are treated with such twinkly sentimentality that you might actually grow offended with the schmaltz shoveled on to their unassuming lives, as the film took their supposed loveability for granted, no wonder when Handl and Pickles were two of the most liked elderly performers on television in the seventies. For Pickles, he didn't last much longer before retirement, though Handl continued to appear on such decade defining shows as Metal Mickey (well, it does scream nineteen-eighties) for quite a while afterwards, even taking small film roles as well, contributing to her national treasure status by the time of her death as a granny everyone could appreciate.

So if you wanted a heavy dose of that sort of thing, the television series of For the Love of Ada was ideal, though the movie was merely an afterthought, part of a phase of cash-ins on the small screen by British big screen entertainments which sporadically lasts to this day. They are generally looked down on by the cognoscenti unless you have a Steve Coogan or his ilk involved, but audiences did attend them willingly and apparently enjoyed them; this was no On the Buses trilogy, however, too mild for any real belly laughs or even many chuckles for that matter. The common accusation leveled at the sitcom movie was the material would be coarsened, though that was only slightly the case here as it came across as being presented to the nation's elderly.

So nothing too racy, even if Jack Smethurst as Leslie, Ada's son, gets into a tizzy when seeking solace from his shrewish wife Ruth (Barbara Mitchell) with his local barber's new assistant Sandra (Andrea Lawrence), a rather forward busty blonde. Middle-aged frustration remains a popular comedy topic and in truth Smethurst played it well, wringing some of the only real titters from what jokes there were. On the other hand, you had to contend with the scenes designed to wring the tears instead, with the film taking it as read you will be dabbing your eyes when, say, Walter is apparently run over on this way to collect his pension - if you think this really has happened, you must be as gullible as the movie takes you for. It culminates in Walter and Ada obliviously heading off for an evening out to celebrate unaware a surprise party has been arranged, offering the chance to hear a rowdy "Knees Up Mother Brown" in appropriate context. It was nostalgia this was best for: the title sequence with shots of 1972 urban Britain as Gilbert O'Sullivan sings was worth many a documentary. Music by Frank Barber.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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