Network DVD / Region 2 / Released 19 April 2010
Wow, now this is something, a complete series DVD release for the still no doubt controversial 1969 sitcom Curry and Chips which was written by Johnny Speight and starred Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes. Set on the shopfloor of seaside novelties manufacturer Lillicrap Ltd, Milligan starred as the half indian-half Irish Kevin O’Grady and suffered huge amounts of intolerance from his fellow workmates.
What many people miss about Speights work is that he has always made a stand against intolerance and bigotry, using such people as mouthpieces allow us to see how foolish they really are but of course all too often this sails right over the heads of the watching audience who end up seeing only the crude racism and stereotyping. Speight had been given his big break in the business when he was taken on board at the script writing company Associated London Scripts which was founded and run by Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes (who also co-stars here as the one tolerant voice in the factory, foreman Arthur Blenkinsop.) and had made his name with the equally vitriolic Till Death Us Do Part.
Inevitably the show was a bit near the knuckle even back in the supposedly enlightened 1960’s and only six episodes were made, the cast is fabulous too including the likes of character actor du jour Sam Kydd, Norman Rossington, Geoffrey Hughes and singer Kenny Lynch. In fact a strong point was made by Kenny Lynch (who plays the anti-Pakistani Kenny in the series) at the time of original broadcast when he remarked “perhaps if people see the show they will realise how ridiculous their prejudices are.” Milligan himself said “this show is important to me, I’ve got a streak of racial prejudice – so has everyone else if they are honest. This isn’t racialism… It’s instinct.”
It’s good to see Network taking a chance with the release of Curry and Chips, it is still bound to divide people but it features some huge comedy names who when it was made were right at the height of their powers.
The dvd also includes a rare half hour 1970 drama from Saturday Night Theatre called The Salesman, written by Speight and starring Ian Holm as a struggling travelling salesman.