The Bargee follows the misadventures of womanising barge worker Hemel Pike (Harry H. Corbett) – “the Casanova of the canals” – making his living travelling the waterways of England on his barge, always making sure there’s a woman waiting for him at every port of call.
Hemel says that the only way to get him off the canals would be to fill them in.
Before each trip, Hemel and his fellow bargee Ronnie (Ronnie Barker) plot how far they have to travel and which stops to make, always ensuring there’s an accommodating female at each stay.
Along the way, they meet various canal travellers, including an absurd mariner (Eric Sykes) who is travelling on his motor cruiser, the Bounty, and behaves as if he were the reincarnation of Admiral Lord Nelson.
Christine Turnbull (Julia Foster) is the one girl who plans to get Hemel off the canal and down the church aisle, and while Ronnie keeps her irascible father, Joe (a canal lock-keeper), busy in the pub with a drinking contest, the two have a clandestine liaison and discuss marriage.
But Hemel’s carefree days seem to be over when following a fainting spell, Christine is diagnosed as pregnant by Dr Scott (Derek Nimmo), and Hemel has to face the wrath of her outraged father.
Armed with a shotgun, Joe rigs an explosive charge to the canal gates and threatens to blockade the canal until the person responsible for putting his daughter in the family way confesses.
The Bargee was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson – the famous British comedy team responsible for Steptoe & Son and Hancock – and filmed on the Grand Union Canal.
Harry H Corbett