UK / 1973
Director: Cliff Owen
Writer: Anthony Marriott, Johnnie Mortimer, Brian Cooke (based on a play by Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot)
Cast: Ronnie Corbett, Arthur Lowe, Beryl Reid, Ian Ogilvy, Susan Penhaligon, David Swift, Michael Bates, Cheryl Hall
Although No Sex Please, We’re British is best known as the phenomenally successful stage comedy which ran in London’s West End from 1971 to 1987 (it remains the longest-running comedy ever, with 6,761 performances to its name), it was also adapted into an equally farcical movie, starring Ronnie Corbett (replacing Michael Crawford, who had featured in the original stage version), Arthur Lowe and Beryl Reid. At one time the film was rarely seen on television, that’s because the stage producer John Gale used to pay TV companies not to show it while his play was still packing ’em in during its West End run.
Ronnie Corbett plays Brian Runnicles, a bank clerk who’s perplexed when a wrongly labelled package of dirty postcards arrives at his workplace. With his boss Mr Bromley (Arthur Lowe) a stout anti-pornography campaigner, Brian struggles to dispose of the blue material without arousing his suspicions. Complicating the matters further are a couple of newly-weds (Ian Ogilvy and Susan Penhaligon) and their visiting mother-in-law (Beryl Reid) who live in the flat directly above the bank. As more and more blue material arrives, the clerk’s increasingly erratic behaviour even manages to attract the attention of the local police.
The Sunday Telegraph called No Sex Please, We’re British “fast, funny and lunatic in the best tradition of British farce, splendidly played by Ronnie Corbett, Beryl Reid and Arthur Lowe.” Writing in the Evening Standard , meanwhile, Alexander Walker praised Cliff Owen, calling him “our best director of comedies. He handles his cast like clockwork – but clockwork in which no fly-wheel moves at quite the same rate as the others, yet all function perfectly together.”