Monday, 25 July 2016

Strike A Light! It's Comedy Gold!

Strike A Light!

In these days of lazy, good for nothing striking teachers, doctors and French air traffic controllers, most of us believe we are in a world gone militant mad!

But don’t believe everything you read. Strikes are not always bad.

Much good can come from militant behaviour! Without strikers and their confrontational union leaders, there would be virtually no 70s television or classic film comedy for culturally starved modern British people to enjoy on You Tube.

Writers were positively inspired by the bad behaviour of the unions.

Just check out some of these classic lines from your very own legendary British Heritage situation comedies, and keep a straight face, if you dare!

Major: Strike, strike, strike, why do we bother, eh, Fawlty?
Basil: Shut up you rancid, elderly, fascist bastard. Oh, my word, a kipper. (Pratfalls)

Smithy: Power to the people!
Tucker: But Smiffy, the miners are on strike and there is no power at all!
Smithy: Well, strike a light…
Tucker: Exactly, Smiffy. Doner kebab? Or shall we steal a tank?

Beryl: Oh-ey, Sand, the biscuit factory’s on strike again! Couldn’t get nuttin!
Sandra: Pickets?
Beryl: Oh –ey, no! There were no biscuits!
Sandra: No garibaldi?
Beryl: No – I had an accident at the ‘airdressers, didn’t I?

CJ: Morning Reggie, sit down.
Reggie: Morning, CJ (Chair makes a farting noise). Sorry, CJ, I think it’s the chair.
CJ: Yes, most embarrassing, I must complain to the manufacturers, cigar?
Reggie: Thank you, CJ. (CJ traps Reggie’s fingers in cigar tin)
CJ: Reggie! Would it surprise you to know that production is down by 98%?
Reggie: Not really, CJ, the factory’s gone on strike.
Tony: Great!
David: Super!
CJ: Strike, eh? I didn’t get where I am today by going on strike! It’s not the British way! Neither Mrs CJ or I have ever humped a placard on a picket line!
Reggie: I imagine not, CJ. (Reggie daydreams a fantasy where he and Joan are licking coal lumps in slow motion whilst CJ rapidly humps a striking miner until the candle on his helmet is extinguished in ecstasy)

But surely, the absolute slag on the top of the heap is the 1985 entry to the ever popular ‘Carry On’ series: ‘Carry on Shafting’ an affectionate look at the trials and tribulations of some comedy miners, poking gentle fun at the then current state of affairs in the mining industry at the hight of Thatcher's Britain.

This fictional fun filled and frolicsome strike was organised and led by Arthur Biscuit, boss of the not very tough Coal Union of National Toilers, played by evergreen Kenneth Williams.

It was set in the fictional grimy northern mining town of Dumpborough, in Turveyshire. Here’s an excerpt from the shooting script that captures the sheer hilarity of it all. It’s a dirty job but they’ll ‘Carry On’ doing it!

Arthur: (strolling over to a pit) Oo-er! Look at that hole! It’s ever so inviting!
Sid Pottle: (running, out of breath) Arfur! Arfur! Timmy’s trapped up the shaft!
Arthur: Ooooo! Get away! How did he get up your shaft?
Sid Pottle: We’ll need a big rod to prize open a hole!
Arthur: Ooooo! I’ve seen your big rod, Sid Pottle, and it’s won prizes!

In the meantime we cut to a nurse walking in high heels across the slag heap. Cue comedy music with brass band to signify being ‘Up North’. POV shot from Sid Pottle and then zoom into enormous bouncing assets of actress. (Note: possibly Barbara, if available)

Sid Pottle: Phwoooooooaaaaarrr!
Arthur: Oh yes, look at that slag!
Sid Pottle: Now that’s not right gentlemanly, Arfur!
Arthur: No, I meant that slag. The pile of clinker! The mountains!
Sid Pottle: Yes I’d like to get me hands on them mountains alright. Yakyakyak!

Camera pans slowly across a grim landscape. Stock footage of collieries – insert. At this point musical director to insert ‘that tune from the Hovis bread advert’, signifying ‘northern grimness’ but remember to delete voiceover from same advertisement during post production. Crash-zoom into window where large, horrendously ugly woman is polishing some jugs. (Note possibly Hattie, if not recording season 12 of ‘Sykes’)

Nora Pottle: (screeching loudly) I can see you, Sydney Pottle! You’re dirty, that’s what you are, dirty! Not like these jugs I’m polishing!
Sid Pottle: I wouldn’t mind polishing her jugs. Yakyakyakyak!

Camera cuts to two little birds tweeting and playing on the slag heap – use stock footage from some Attenborough wildlife programme or other.

Arthur: Look at the tits on that slag heap, playing with each other!
Sid Pottle: I wouldn’t mind playing with the tits on that slag, and that’s no lie! Yakyakyakyak!

So there you have it. Strikes are not always bad. And if you find yourself queuing in Operation Stack on the M20 while trying to get into France this summer, do yourself a favour and look up these clips and more on I Player to pass those long hours!

That’s if the BBC aren’t on strike, of course!

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