Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973“1978) was a BBC situation comedy , written by Raymond Allen and starring Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice .
The series followed the accident-prone Frank Spencer and his tolerant wife Betty through Frank's various attempts to hold down a job, which frequently end in disaster.
Noted for its stuntwork, as well as featuring various well-remembered catchphrases, the series was voted #22 in the BBC's poll to find " Britain's Best Sitcom ".
Each episode saw the well-meaning and optimistic, but naive, clueless, accident-prone tank top and beret -wearing character, Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford), and his very tolerant but often frustrated wife, Betty (Michele Dotrice), getting into situations that usually spiralled ridiculously out of control, frequently resulting in someone else's nervous breakdown or some unlikely destructive catastrophe. Frequently the viewer would see a scene in which a character who is familiar with Spencer would warn another about him, although he was usually harder to work with than they had feared. Episodes usually included stunt work performed by Crawford himself, often highly physical, that even today would be unusual in an inexpensive half-hour comedy. With such a denouement in mind, typical plot lines would involve picnics on high cliffs, driving lessons by the sea, household repairs, or a wide variety of new jobs such as motorcycle courier or high-rise window cleaner. The latter stunt really did go wrong when the rigging equipment being used jammed, necessitating a rescue by the Fire Service. The 1978 Christmas special saw Michael Crawford hanging from the outside of a small aeroplane.
The wimpish smiling Frank, sporting his trademark beret and trench coat , was married to (apparently normal) Betty (Michele Dotrice) and in later series they had a baby daughter, Jessica, which offered scope for even more slapstick humour. Frank was a gift for impersonators, and for a time it became a clichÃ© that every half-decent impersonator was doing him, particularly his main catchphrase "Ooh Betty", which, although assumed in many references in popular culture, he never actually says.
This was not Frank's only catchphrase of the series. Others included a quavering "Oooh...", usually uttered with his forefinger to his mouth as he stood amidst the chaos of some disaster he had just caused (and which he himself had invariably escaped unscathed). He would also also sometimes complain about being "ha-RASSed!", or occasionally, "I've had a lot of ha-RASSments lately" (surprisingly, most people now use this pronunciation). Other recurring catchphrases included references to "a bit of trouble", which usually implied some sort of undisclosed digestive disorder, and reference to the cat having done a "whoopsie" (on one occasion in Spencer's beret).
Despite his unfailing ability to infuriate people, Frank was essentially a very sympathetic character, who inspired as much affection from his audience as from his ever-loving and patient wife, Betty. The ability to convey this lovable aspect of his character - which meant that, crucially, the audience was always on Frank's 'side' - was a notable achievement of the writer and main actors. For all his extraordinary faults, we never doubted that Frank adored Betty and would do anything for her, and in their own way they were blissfully happy together. He also adored the memory of his late mother and - in later episodes - also worshipped his daughter, Jessica (named after his mother). Indeed, at times in the series there were some remarkably poignant moments amid the chaos, as for example the scene in which he serenades his young baby with a lullaby to send her to sleep.
For the final series, made five years after the previous one (although there had been two Christmas specials inbetween), Frank's character changed markedly. He became more self-aware, and keen to make himself appear more educated and well-spoken.
Crawford himself has talked of how he based many of Frank's reactions on those of a young child, in particular those of Nick Johnson, a young man from the Southport area, who famously cried "Oooh..." when his Dog Club briefcase was stolen in 1983. Crawford also found it difficult to break out of the public association with the role, despite his later career as a hugely successful musical performer on the West End and Broadway stage, in popular shows such as Barnum and Phantom of the Opera .
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