1 9 6 4 (UK)
26 x 25 minute episodes
This twice-weekly tea-time comedy-drama series from the BBC followed the day-to-day events of a corrupt local council in a fictional Midlands market town, “somewhere between the A4 and the A5, nestling among those humpbacked undulations where England prepares itself for Wales”.
Mayor Augustus Bent (Martin Wyldeck) – a small-time builder – looked upon the council as his own personal gift horse. For example, he sought to build a Community Centre, with the contracts distributed amongst his fellow council members.
Amongst them were Arthur Oakes (Geoffrey Denton), a country gentleman of the old school who needed the sweets of office to keep up his hunt membership; Harry Jolly (Philip Garston-Jones), an admirer of Continental culture who was very keen to promote la dolce vita in Swizzlewick; and Ken Wiley (Patrick Mower), the newly co-opted Councillor in Charge of Public Relations.
Furthermore, His Worship’s intent was not to provide a place for the young and old of Swizzlewick but to run the centre as a commercial venture featuring wrestling and bingo nights.
Councillor Salt (Arnold Peters) represented the opposition. A grass-roots socialist, his main difficulty was that his capitalist opponents were just as adept at gutter tactics as he was.
Swizzlewick became an early target for the infamous “Clean Up TV Campaign” founder and spokeswoman Mary Whitehouse, who felt it unsuitable for its early evening timeslot.
The show parodied Whitehouse herself with the character of Mrs Felicity Smallgood (Margot Boyd) who – with a veritable hive of bees in her bonnet – began a “Freedom From Sex” campaign.
Outside the Town Hall, there were citizens no less zealous for the civic good than their elected representatives, including Rufus Wright (Peter Russell), jobbing printer, do-gooder and optimist; and Audrey Willett (Christina Taylor) and Eustace Hadden (George Layton), two enthusiastic youngsters who were prepared to stand up, sit down, march, or carry banners for any progressive cause anywhere.
Finally, an apolitical but undoubtedly well-shaped figure in Swizzlewick society was Wendy Yapp (Madeleine Mills), the tea girl at the Town Hall who was the subject of one of the Mayor’s less-publicised planning schemes.
Series creator and writer David Turner resigned when cuts were made to a scene featuring a corrupt councillor and his interaction with a prostitute called Blousie (Judy Child) without his consultation.
The lewdness of the show, though, ultimately contributed to its downfall. The Guardian branded it “a new low in tastelessness”, labelling it a “thoroughly amateurish performance” and Swizzlewick was quietly shuffled off the screen.
Mrs Felicity Smallgood
Mayor Augustus Bent
The Bodies | Rearing Its Ugly Head | Campaigners All | How to Make £250,000 | The Unspotted Genius | Burnt Umber with Graining | Jam and Maggots | Dead Image | A Reputation Cleared | In for a Penny | The Value of Silence | A Proposal of Marriage | A Very Important Occasion | Dog Lovers Unite! | A Threat from Outside | Dead Reckoning | Blackmail | The Best Method of Defence | A Council of War | A Spy in the Camp | A New Plan | Balance of Power | The Exercise | The Spider’s Web | An Important Discovery | The Axe Falls