1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Set in the staff canteen and on the factory floor at Lillicrap Ltd, makers of cheap novelty goods and tacky souvenirs, Curry and Chips was a Johnny Speight comedy about Kevin O’Grady – a newly arrived half-Pakistani/half-Irish immigrant (he had an Irish father) – aka ‘Paki Paddy’.
Played by a blacked-up Spike Milligan, who had the original idea for the character, O’Grady suffered the racist taunts of his workmates, led by the liberal-minded but somewhat confused factory foreman, Arthur Blenkinsop (Eric Sykes).
Norman Rossington and Geoffrey Hughes played racist white Liverpudlians, singer/actor Kenny Lynch was a black Cockney, and Sam Kydd featured as the malodorous Smelly.
In addition to the liberal slinging about of racist terms (with words like ‘wog’, ‘coon’ and ‘Paki’ endlessly repeated by the characters) there was a good deal of (mostly harmless) swearing, one viewer noting that the word “bloody” was said 59 times in a single episode. Only Eric Sykes didn’t swear in the show – he simply refused to do so.
Originally aired on ITV in November 1969, this sitcom was very much a product of the 60s. It tried (not always successfully) to deal with racism, bigotry and class hatred in a light-hearted manner, and this series would not (could not) have been made today.
Political correctness ensured that two similar series – The Melting Pot, also starring Milligan as a Pakistani (six episodes of which were made in 1975), and Jewel In The Crown, for which a pilot was shot in 1985 – were scrapped.
One episode of The Melting Pot was shown in June 1975, but the BBC refused to show the subsequent five episodes as the ingredients constituted way too much of a heady brew for the Beeb to handle.
Ironically Curry & Chips was LWT’s first sitcom made in colour.
Norman, the shop steward
Mrs Bartok, the Landlady