In post-war Yorkshire, with rationing still very much in force, mild-mannered chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers (Michael Palin) tries to prove his worth to the snobbish locals by kidnapping a pig which is being fattened up for a local banquet to celebrate the 1947 royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Lt. Philip Mountbatten.
With its gentle, witty portrait of postwar Britain and its sly digs at bourgeois aspirations, this comedy has the stamp of Ealing about it.
Scripted by Alan Bennett, it is an often hilarious mixture of well-observed social comedy and sometimes laborious earthy humour, much of the latter being inspired by the bodily functions of the pig who has been fed on an ‘austerity diet’ including toenail clippings and ground rat.
Palin does a nice line in mortified meekness as Gilbert, but he is upstaged by Maggie Smith, as his scheming wife, Joyce, and Liz Smith as Joyce’s hilariously dotty old mum, whose eccentric antics and distracted ramblings provide some of the highlights.
Dr Charles Swaby
Inspector Howard Noble