Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em: A Comedy Classic

Friday: Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em: A Comedy Classic - (C5, 9pm)

Almost 50 years ago, the great British telly-watching public was introduced to Frank Spencer and his long-suffering wife Betty, and an iconic comedy was born.

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em ran for 13 episodes across two series, followed by two Christmas specials in 1974 and 1975.

Short it may have been, but sweet it definitely was. In the hands of actor Michael Crawford, the chaos created by his child-like alter ego Frank reduced the country to tears of laughter, and the passage of time hasn’t dulled its power one bit.

From ‘that’ roller skate journey to the heart-tugging birth of Frank and Betty’s daughter Jessica, it found a place in the collective consciousness unlike other shows.

Some Mothers also provided a vehicle for numerous guest stars who subsequently went on to bigger things, including All Creatures Great and Small’s Christopher Timothy, One Foot in the Grave star Richard Wilson, Desmind Llewellyn – better known as Q from the James Bond films – and Doctor Who’s Elisabeth Sladen, who was also considered for the role of Betty, which of course went to the incomparable Michele Dotrice.

For Crawford, the series’ huge success ended up being a double-edged sword: catchphrases such as “oohh Betty!” and “I’ve had a bit of trouble” became a part of popular culture for years, while the actor’s stunts, which he often performed himself, had the nation on the edge of their seats week in, week out.

But all the attention came at a price for Crawford, who was already a successful theatre and film star before Some Mothers.

He followed it with his West End debut in the leading man role of Billy, a demanding musical based on the novel Billy Liar, but its similarity to Frank left him somewhat typecast.

He kicked off the 1980s by starring in the original London production of Cy Coleman’s Barnum, before bumping into one Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1984.

He cast Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera, introducing the star to a whole new, and hugely appreciative audience.

Yet despite his success, Crawford was still inextricably linked to Frank Spencer, demonstrating the depth of affection for the character among the actor’s fans.

This documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Seventies comedy, revealing how some of its most iconic scenes were brought to life, as well as the stunts that almost ended in catastrophe.

It also features an interview with creator Ray Allen, who explains how his own life and wardrobe provided the inspiration for Frank – as well as the famous names who were lined up to take the leading role.

Trivia fans take note: Norman Wisdom and Ronnie Barker were in the running, while David Jason was ditched because he wasn’t a big enough star at the time.

Perhaps the universe knew something, because despite everything, it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Crawford in the leading role.

The programme also explores how he crafted the character of Frank, as well as the furious, backstage negotiations to keep Some Mothers on the air, and the hugely unpopular choices that were made as the final episodes were filmed.