Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town

For anyone growing up in the UK during the 1970s and 80s 'The Two Ronnies' show was a TV staple.  Running between 1971 and 1987 the show, featuring the double act of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, was a massive and enduring success with audiences of up to 20 million viewers at it's peak.  The show was essentially sketches - tricksy wordplay being a particular favourite (four candles) - and monologues - Corbett's rambling attempts to tell a simple joke - but many of the series also featured a serial story, several episodes of around 9 or 10 minutes each that ran through the series.

Two of these series have stuck with me through the years.  I'll return to the second one sometime in the future but the one I want to show you today was my favourite as a kid, a Jack the Ripper parody called 'The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town '.

Presented by 'Chopper Films' and starring amongst others, Vincent Prance, Peter Cushion, Miles Behind, Willy Eckerslike, Lydia Dustbin & Norma Stitz (it was the 1970s). 'The Phantom Raspberry Blower' was written, according to the credits, by 'Spike Milligan and a gentleman'; the gentleman in question being the hugely productive Ronnie Barker.  It tells the story of a Victorian London terrorised by a cloaked and top hatted figure who 'stuns' his upper class victims by 'blowing a raspberry' (making a farting noise (it was the 1970s)) at them.

As was often the case with British comedy of the time it includes some pretty suspect 'humour' (some decidedly dodgy stereotyping at the expense of anyone who isn't a heterosexual white British male)  that leaves a bitter taste on modern palettes.  Spike Milligan's hand in the script is obvious (possibly never more so than in the scenes referred to above) and the sight of two Queen Victoria's skipping hand in hand across a park is pure Milligan and would have been very much at home in any of the Q series.

There are moments that raised a smile and it was interesting to watch the whole thing together for the first time especially as I had no memory at all of how the thing ended. If you're a Spike fan or a Two Ronnies fan it's probably still worth checking out as you'll no doubt be fully aware that things are going to get quite near to your knuckles in a fairly typical display of crass 70s stereotyping and there are a couple of sniggers per episode.  If you're not then I suspect there's little here to change your mind as for the most part it all feels fairly hackneyed, a little bit aimless and with all allowances for the time it was made put aside the casual racism and sexism begins to grate quite quickly.

Here it is though in all it's dubious glory for you to make up your own minds.

Update - Embedding has been disabled but the video is available after the jump...


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