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Thread: Over the Ord 9

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Over the Ord 9

    Boy!....wasn't the producer "Del-uded" about the Wick's taste in television sitcom

    Would you Adam and Eve it...our royal burgh played a part in the smash hit series, Only Fools and Horses.
    I tell you no porky pies. According to The Mail on Sunday, Wick was a pawn when the series was mooted, a standoff between Jimmy Gilbert, the BBC’s Scottish-born, head of light entertainment, and John Sullivan, the comedy’s creator, which almost led to the series being killed off before it reached our screens.
    The surprising inside story is told in a new book about the iconic comedy, by author Graham McCann, trailed in the Sunday paper.
    Apparently, some of Jimmy’s family hailed from in and around Wick and he associated the place with good, wholesome, commonplace tastes.
    Jimmy objected to Only Fools and Horses because he doubted that the title would stand up to scrutiny from the good folks here. Sullivan was none too happy about this, and decided to provoke Jimmy by suggesting an alternative, title, namely Dip Your Wick, knowing full well that Gilbert was a Baptist with a pronounced aversion to smut. Speaking later, about the incident, Sullivan who died earlier this year, admitted he nearly got the sack.
    Instead, he was given a second chance to convince Mr Gilbert and John Howard Davies, the BBC’s head of comedy, that the show would have an appeal beyond inner London. Sullivan had based the show’s title on the sardonic saying: “Only fools and horses work’ and was convinced it would strike a chord with the public. He challenged his bosses to come up with a better name for the sitcom.
    The two executives exchanged glances, somewhat anxiously across the table and realised that neither had anything constructive to say and eventually said: “OK, you can have it”.
    Mr Gilbert, who also helped to create Last of the Summer Wine, confirmed he had used the Wick test to decide whether programmes were suitable for the whole nation. Quite an honour, you would think. The Edinburgh-born producer, now 88, said that his wife comes from Caithness and they used to visit the county regularly. Near Wick there was a broken down crofthouse and out through the roof was the biggest television aerial you’ve ever seen. Jimmy took a photo of it and put it on display in his office. He said: “If there was ever something proposed, which I knew was not going to be universally approved of, or understood, I used to show them the picture and say : “He’s paying his licence fee, too.”
    Wick councillor Graeme Smith claimed that this approach smacked of metropolitan condescension.
    He told the Mail on Sunday: “We are a lot more astute and switched on than some people in London or Edinburgh might assume.” Graeme added that the popularity of Only Fools and Horses, in Caithness and elsewhere, showed that we had the last laugh.”
    I couldn’t agree, more, Graeme . I think Mr Gilbert assumed a little too much in his assessment of whether Wickers and other Scots would understand it. While it was a feather in our caps, to be used as a yardstick, for programme standards, we certainly don’t live in cocoon up here and I think we all managed to get our heads round the Cockney twang and Del Boy’s being a so-called hotshot mover and shaker. It’s quite something, though, to think that one of the funniest comedies of all time hung in the balance, because of Jimmy Gilbert’s understanding, or should that be misunderstanding of our comedy tastebuds. I mean we’re not a bunch of plonkers, are we?
    Sullivan’s mischievous Dip Your Wick might have raised an eyebrow or two, here, but certainly not Only Fools and Horses which was lovely jubbly.
    What do you think about it all?...feel free to post your comments on the general forum.
    I think that the BBC, having done us a grave injustice, should arrange a special screening of a couple of the priceless, half-hour comedies, in the Assembly Rooms, during gala week and invite Jimmy Gilbert as the special guest.
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 13-Nov-11 at 19:45.

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