Selwyn Froggitt – A Guilty Pleasure?

Saturday, 10 October 2009 09:40

Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! - The Complete Second Series has just been released on DVD. Perhaps it's nostalgia for a long-gone adolescence (I was fifteen at the time) but despite a more mature and refined taste in books, music and the majority of the television I now watch, I can still enjoy the simplicity and charm of Bill Maynard as Selwyn Froggitt.  Maynard may have given a better performance later in The Gaffer, but his portrayal of the over-sized, stunningly incompetent labourer is the standard-bearer for a style of comedy rarely seen (and even more rarely successful) in these days of uninspired situation comedies or  surreal sketch shows that lack any real humour.

From the moment Selwyn shambles onto the screen, clad in his trademark donkey jacket and equipped with a copy of The Times, squinting and blinking at the world around him, I can't help but smile.  Compared to more subtle series from the pen of Alan Plater, such as The Beiderbecke Affair, Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt could be considered slapstick, relying heavily as it does on Maynard's physical performance, which for the younger me was always the draw.

Selwyn Froggitt Series Two DVDDialogue comes second to the physicality of the main character, but Plater's deft touch for humour isn't absent -  “a pint of cooking and a bag of nuts please, Raymond” - even if some of the plots plunder seemingly absurd depths, given their setting in the fictional working class town of Scarsdale.  The comedy doesn't feel stale but some may consider it dated – Selwyn's bicycle continuously destructs in much the same fashion as a clown car – so if razor-sharp, cerebral repartee is your chosen style of humour you may prefer to allow Selwyn to cycle past!

The Scarsdale Working Men's Club and Institute (Affiliated) is an engaging setting where most of the show unfolds and proceedings are often, unintentionally, riotous.  The ensemble cast comprises Raymond the barman (Ray Mort), Vera the barmaid (Lynda Baron), Committee members Jack (Bill Dean), Harry (Harold Goodwin) and Taff (Richard Davies) who takes unbridled delight in trying to best Froggitt. 

At home resides long suffering brother Maurice (Robert Keegan), permanently bemused by Selwyn's antics, and Mum (Megs Jenkins), who dispenses sound advice “you'll need a coat if you're going to France”, when not berating Selwyn for some real or imagined incompetence. 

The single disc features all seven episodes of the second series, originally broadcast in 1977, each with its own unique theme song (Bill Dean also wrote these as well as playing Jack).  Sound and picture quality is a little variable, with the latter being grainy at times, though this may have just been the review copy. There are unfortunately no extras. The RRP is £12.99, the DVD has a running time of 175 minutes approx, and a ‘U’ certificate. It is available from the Network DVD website.

Many of the details of the series had eluded me across the years, but I could still clearly hear “Magic!” and remember two thumbs thrust enthusiastically up.  And Selwyn's grin, like that of the Cheshire Cat, remained long after everything else had faded.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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