Alf Garnett double bill
DVD: Till Death… (1981) The Thoughts of Chairman Alf (1998)
With the rantings of the titular Alf Garnett still ringing in my ears from reviewing Till Death Us Do Part, it was time once again to hear what the bigoted ‘Hammers’ fan had to say about the world in 2 more stages of his life.
After a 6 year break from our television screens, Alf and Else retuned in Till Death…, which relocated them to Eastbourne for their retirement years, and also moved them away from the BBC and onto ATV.
The show only ran 1 series and was hampered by a number of things: Tony Booth had refused to return, and the absence of a seasoned character that Alf could have verbal jousts with left a big hole in the show. Una Stubbs sporadic appearances also diluted the family dynamic, and the addition of her punk rock son to try and spice things up mostly fell flat. It was also notable that this was not filmed before a studio audience, and a lot of the script falls flat without the immediate feedback from a live audience present.
It is not all negative though; fish out of water Alf is in a constant battle to feel comfortable in well to do Eastbourne, and his caustic observations often have you laughing despite yourself.
Alf and Else would return once again 4 years later at the BBC for In Sickness and In Health, which was a last hurrah for them before the death of Dandy Nichols.
Alf Garnett made a late return when Warren Mitchel appeared in character at a series of live stand-up shows in Australia titled The Thoughts of Chairman Alf.
Still shouting his right-wing rhetoric, appearing faux drunk at times, and occasionally breaking into a music hall song, this was perhaps not the most fitting of farewells for a character beloved by UK fans for so long, but after the death of creator Johnny Speight, Warren Mitchell retired Alf for good.
Neither title shows Garnett in peak form, but even a diluted Alf is still enough to raise more than the occasional belly laugh.
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