1 9 5 5 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Eric Barker’s fourth series for the BBC in the 1950s followed on from three series’ of The Eric Barker Half-Hour. It was also to be his last.
Barker poked fun at British life wherever he saw the opportunity, be it politics, sport, industry or transport. But it was one particular sketch that had everyone clamouring for his neck . . .
It seemed harmless enough at the time. In this sketch, a regal-looking lady (Barker’s real-life wife, Pearl Hackney) is at a launching ceremony for a new ship. She is passed a bottle of champagne on a rope which she then releases. The scene cuts to a film of a ship slowly sinking. Within minutes of transmission, the telephone lines to Broadcasting House were jammed by angry callers convinced that the show had mocked the Royal Family.
Although there was no inference in the sketch, the public and press alike were convinced that the lady in the sketch was intended to be the Queen Mother.
Barker was immediately ordered to present himself to the Head of Light Entertainment who gave him a severe dressing down and warned him that if there was any further controversy the series would be cancelled and Barker would never work for the BBC again.
Look At It This Way ran fortnightly from February to April 1955. When the series ended the BBC decided not to renew Barker’s contract but he enjoyed a hugely successful film career until a stroke, at the age of 52, ended his career.
Although he survived the stroke he was unable to work again other than a little in local radio.
Eric Barker passed away in 1990 aged 78 years.