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The Dustbinmen (ITV Comedy Bryan Pringle, John Barrett)

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Sitcom detailing the exploits of a gang of dustbinmen.

The Dustbinmen was inspired by a 90-minute Playhouse play called There’s A Hole In Your Dustbin, Delilah, which was broadcast on September 30, 1968. Jack Rosenthal based his characters on real-life refuse collectors he met while undertaking research, and the play was set in the Lancashire coastal village of Fylde, near Blackpool.

In the series Cheese And Egg (played by Bryan Pringle) is the leader of a gang of work-shy refuse collectors that operate the ‘Thunderbird 3’ council dustbin lorry. Smellie Ibbotson (John Barrett), Heavy Breathing (called that because of his belief that he has a way with ladies and played by future Are You Being Served alumni Trevor Bannister), slow-witted Eric (Tim Wylton), and Winston (Graham Haberfield) are the other members of the crew.

Like Blakey in On The Buses, the inspector from the Corporation Cleansing Department, whom they dub Bloody Delilah, is their sworn adversary.

The series was crude and down to earth, evoking the wrath of Mary Whitehouse led clean-up-TV brigade while also, predictably, proving enormously popular with home viewers. It was so popular that every episode in the first series of six went straight to the top of the ratings. It was also granted a prestigious TV Times cover for the start of it’s second season (week of March 19, 1970).

Partway through The Dustbinmen’s run, series creator¬†Rosenthal began to withdraw from the project. After writing and producing the first series, he dropped the production role, then the writing, until he had no involvement in his creation at all by the final series.

His next series was the even more successful The Lovers.

The original play had a mostly different cast with Jack MacGowran playing Cheese and Egg. There was also only a two month gap between seasons 2 and 3.

Cast: Bryan Pringle (Cheese and Egg), Trevor Bannister (Heavy Breathing), Tim Wylton (Eric), Graham Haberfield (Winston Platt), John Woodvine (Bloody Delilah – Season 1 Only), John Barrett (Smellie Ibbotson), Brian Wilde (Bloody Delilah – from season 2)

Creator: Jack Rosenthal / Producers: Jack Rosenthal, Richard Everitt

UK / ITV – Granada / 20×30 minute episodes / 1969-70 3 Seasons