Some Relief

We, in our schools and our college, drive on through this term. Some of us have a couple of challenging weeks ahead but, as always, we will face our challenges head-on, knowing that we are strong, ready and doing a great job, day in and day out.

I thought that much of this message this week ought to be light-hearted and upbeat. I’m conscious of the challenges we all face (and a smile might make it feel that little bit better – sometimes you just need something to make you smile) and recognising that it is Comic Relief time.

And so, to smiling…

I do write, quite a bit, in these messages about sport and I have, more recently, avoided mentioning local sporting teams too often. We haven’t got the best of records recently. Our local football teams; the Millers and the two teams in Sheffield, aren’t doing too well at the moment. Yorkshire County CC had a particularly poor season. That said in Rugby League, the Eagles are doing really well. In Union the Titans are almost top and the Tigers aren’t too far behind. But there is a sport where our local team is top dog, number 1. That sport…? Ice Hockey – a shining star in the local sporting galaxy. Almost 10,000 people witnessed, Sheffield Steelers take the Challenge Cup, in the final, against the Guildford Flames, just last week. The Sheffield Arena was sold out and, I gather, it was an amazing occasion. No red, white and blue, but plenty of orange and black! If Ice Hockey’s your thing; Congratulations.

And onto Comic Relief; maybe just comedy. If you are someone who’s been associated with the schools and the college for quite some time you might remember my nudging, during the COVID period, towards sitcoms of yesteryear. I do have a warm nostalgic feeling towards British Comedies of the 1970s, 1980’s and 1990’s. Much of the comedy, which was brilliant at that time, was truly beyond its time. I recognise not all was brilliant, and I recognise that there was so much lazy racism and sexism portrayed through the media, in TV dramas and comedies, but rightly that rubbish has been lost. In fact, it wasn’t particularly well-liked or accepted back then. I do accept that ‘Love thy neighbour’ is an horrendous example of how the 70s got it wrong and wouldn’t be on anybody’s list of decent television experiences – in fact at the time it was barely watched. The very best sitcoms resonated and have transcended; the rest were lost, erased and have been forgotten.

Anyway, I just thought I’d nudge you towards a survey conducted by Gold, a couple of years ago. You’ll see that it’s a decent and pretty comprehensive top 10 covering British comedy from 1970 to 2020. Many of those I remember watching the first time round, although to be honest, was never a big fan of the Vicar of Dibley – who was? And I think I’m too old for Inbetweeners. Take time to catch up on them, they will still be available on a catch-up service.

The Top 10 funniest sitcom moments of all time (accordingly to the Gold survey):

  • Only Fools and Horses – Del Boy falls through bar
  • Vicar of Dibley – Geraldine falls into a puddle
  • Dad’s Army – “Don’t Tell Him Pike”
  • Fawlty Towers – Basil smashes his car
  • Inbetweeners – “Car Friend”
  • Gavin and Stacey – Smithy’s curry order
  • The Office – David Brent’s dancing
  • Ab Fab – Falling out the cab
  • Blackadder – Lord Flashheart’s entrance
  • Father Ted – Cows and perspective

I do think though that the most brilliant sitcom is missing from this list: Porridge. One of the differences between Porridge and many of those listed here is that it was driven by dialogue rather than physical comedy.

Two incredible situations stand out for me.

Number 1: In the first ever episode, screened after the pilot, Prisoner and Escort, is called New faces, Old hands. It’s Godber’s first time in prison, and Fletcher is showing him the ropes, as the two go through the checking-in process, along with the limited Heslop.

Doctor: “See those flasks over there, I want you to fill one for me.”

Fletcher: From some distance away – “what from here?”

Number 2:

And in No way out, the Christmas special

Mr MacKay offers Fletcher a bottle of Whiskey and wants to know where they put the soil from the tunnel dug by prisoners in a failed escape attempt.

Fletcher: “They dug another tunnel and put the earth down there.”

Some of us do have some concerns about the access to the internet these days but the wonder of our time is that the brilliance of yesterday can still be accessed today. Enjoy Comic Relief. Enjoy the sitcom of your choice from the list above. Enjoy your chosen episode of Porridge.