1 9 7 6 – 1 9 7 7 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
This British sitcom about a black South London family was hailed as ground-breaking and original though it was in fact based on the format of successful US show, Good Times.
The tower block-dwelling Fosters comprised hassled pater, Samuel (Norman Beaton), phlegmatic mother Pearl (Isabelle Lucas), artistic elder son Sonny (a painfully overacting Lenny Henry riding high on a recent win in talent series New Faces), teenage sexpot daughter Shirley (Sharon Rosita), and younger son Benjamin (Lawrie Mark).
Shirley’s gossiping friend and neighbour Vilma (Carmen Munroe) also figured prominently.
Humble car wash attendant Samuel was portrayed as an honest man trying to elevate his family, often against the odds.
Interestingly the show took as many sideswipes at the Fosters’ local Black community as it did against the implicitly overriding racial odds the family had to work against. In one episode, following Samuel’s decision to return a stolen bag full of money to its rightful owners, he was beset by phone calls and notes through his letterbox all mocking his stupidity.
Other characters chosen for lampooning were a succession of Reverends, many of whom were portrayed as more interested in the size of their collection boxes than in the spiritual wellbeing of their flock.
The ITV show was criticised for perpetuating racial stereotypes, but it did well enough in the ratings to earn a second season.
Norman Beaton and Carmen Munroe were later reunited for another (albeit superior) black-cast ‘Sarf London’ comedy, Desmond’s.