Hammer Films/EMI became experts at transplanting top TV comedies to the big screen in the 1970s. Their four previous efforts – On The Buses (1971); Mutiny on the Buses (1972); Holiday on the Buses (1973) and Love Thy Neighbour (1973) – were not only huge box office successes in Britain, but they also were in most parts of the world, including – strangely enough – the Far East.
This, their fifth TV spin-off, starred Richard O’Sullivan, Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett in the roles they had made successful on television since 1973.
Unisex flat-sharing was a common-enough phenomenon by 1974 so audiences were not unduly surprised (unless they lived in darkest Oswaldtwistle) to find catering student Robin Tripp (O’Sullivan) sharing accommodation with Chrissy (Wilcox) and Jo (Thomsett).
The arrangement worked fairly well and their landlord Mr Roper (Brian Murphy), who lived on the ground floor, seldom worried them as he was far more interested in the telly and the pools.
Not so Mrs Roper (Yootha Joyce) who yearned for a life of excitement and glamour which she knew could never be hers while she was tied to her stick-in-the-mud husband, who had this depressing fact pointed out to him at every available opportunity.
In the meantime, the ebullient but glamour-starved Mrs Roper is far happier in the company of their three young first-floor tenants.
Beyond the similarities of the basic set-up, this Man About The House movie bears little relation to the TV series and has a completely new storyline revolving around unscrupulous property developer Spiros Ltd (headed by Arthur Lowe) who plans to buy out the owners of the houses in Myddleton Terrace, NW8 (in which the Roper’s house is situated) in order to demolish the properties to make way for yet another faceless office block.
The developers’ wily agent, Morris Pluthero (Peter Cellier) has some initial good fortune as four out of the six owner-occupiers agrees to accept the tempting offer.
But when he arrives at number Six (the Roper residence), he gets a firm, flat, final, feminine NO from Mrs Roper (George, of course, having no say in the matter).
There follows a campaign to keep Myddleton Terrace out of the hands of Spiros Ltd, with Robin, Chrissy and Jo joining the fight with a thousand-signature petition.
They even find an unexpected but welcome ally in their Member of Parliament who demands that a preservation order be slapped on the entire terrace (his support is born of self-interest as he keeps a mistress and her pet poodle in one of the houses).
Other campaigns are fought on the side: Robin’s fight to get the filthy kitchens cleaned at the fashionable restaurant where he works; his attempt to battle his way through the last bastions of Chrissy’s sexual defences; and the corresponding designs of Larry (Doug Fisher) on Jo’s virtue.
Many well-known faces appear in the surprise climax which takes place (conveniently) in a television studio.
Sir Edmund Weir
Arthur Mulgrove (Doorman)