Home Television Comedy Dustbinmen, The

Dustbinmen, The

1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
1 x 90 minute pilot
20 x 30 minute episodes

Cheese And Egg is the leader of a gang of work-shy refuse collectors who operate a council dustcart (refuse truck) that they call ‘Thunderbird 3’. He’s in charge of Smellie Ibbotson, Heavy Breathing (so named because he believes he has a way with women), slow-witted Eric, and Winston (an ardent Manchester City supporter).

The inspector from the Corporation Cleansing Department – who they nickname Bloody Delilah – is their sworn enemy, much like Blakey in On The Buses.

The foul-mouthed, beret-wearing Cheese and Egg – so nicknamed because CE are his initials – is respected by the others for his brains.

dustbinmen_02

Together, the dustbinmen flout every rule, shirk work whenever possible and discuss – usually disparagingly – local residents by their address or some other recognisable feature, hence “Mrs 23 Valetta Street”, “Mrs 14b Kimberley Terrace”, “Mrs 18 Beowulf Terrace”, “Mrs 24 The Alley” or “Mrs Manchester United”.

The series was certainly earthy, provoking the ire of the clean-up-TV campaigners and, inevitably, proving extremely popular with viewers at home. It was so well liked in fact, that every episode in the first series of six went straight to the top of the ratings – the first time this had happened – although the fact that there had been a refuse-collecting strike in Britain the same year was a help: clearly the topic was on everyone’s mind.

The series originated from a 90 minute 1968 Playhouse production titled There’s A Hole In Your Dustbin, Delilah. Writer Jack Rosenthal drew his characters from real-life refuse collectors he had met while out and about conducting research, and he set his play in the Lancashire coastal town of Fylde, near Blackpool.

dustbinmen_cart

Rosenthal began to withdraw from The Dustbinmen part-way through its short life. Having written and produced the initial series he dropped first the production role and then the writing so that, by the final series, he no longer had any involvement in his creation, preferring instead to work on his next sitcom, The Lovers, which starred Paula Wilcox, who made two appearances in The Dustbinmen as Naomi, Winston’s girlfriend.

Julie Goodyear – of Coronation Street fame – also appeared in a pair of episodes.

Cheese and Egg 
Jack MacGowran (1)
Bryan Pringle (2)
Bloody Delilah 

Frank Windsor (1)
John Woodvine (2)
Brian Wilde (3)
Heavy Breathing 

Harold Innocent (1)
Trevor Bannister (2)
Winston Platt 

Graham Haberfield
Eric 

Henry Livings (1)
Tim Wylton (2)
Smellie Ibbotson 

John Barrett