Remember Please Sir? It was a late 60s comedy we reviewed some time back, based around an inner city London school called Fenn Street. All the kids looked a good 5 years too old for school when it started, so it was only a matter of time before they had to leave. And they did – into another sitcom called The Fenn Street Gang.
Available now for the first time on DVD, this comedy followed the more memorable of the teens making their way in early 70s London, using a formula not a million miles away from the original series. Yes, they’re still getting into ‘scrapes’, only this time it’s out of school and in the world of employment – so replace teachers with angry employers and the local police and pub landlords. It was hugely popular ‘back in the day’ – but has it aged ok? Well…
It’s not bad at all, but that’s purely down to its value as a period piece. The ‘real life’ title sequence alone pretty much sums up the era, while the fashions of the leading characters screams the early 70s – hot pants, spoon-collar shirts and hair by the bucket load. Top of the pile is undoubtedly Peter Craven – decked out in some really cutting-edge gear for the time. And as an added bonus, there’s some great period shots of inner-city London too.
Still, you’re probably looking to buy this as a comedy rather than a historical document – and it still holds its own on that front, in that innocent 70s way. Some of the 21 episodes are better than others, with most able to raise a smile. The only problem is a lack of depth with the characters on show, they worked fine as part of a larger sitcom, but on their own, there’s not a lot there. Which is probably why some of the main characters of Please Sir got drafted in for a few shows – in fact, the teacher, Mr Hedges (John Alderton), even gets his own episodes!
Not a classic by any means, but very interesting and still very watchable. For fans of the era, this is certainly one to check out. Expect the other two series to be reissued very soon.