1 9 7 6 (Canada)
12 x 30 minute episodes
British comedian Frankie Howerd and his bawdy brand of humour (using the double entendre with savage innocence) were very popular in Canada thanks to the Carry On series of movies and the BBC television series Up Pompeii!
By the time the CBC decided to sign him up for this locally-produced situation comedy, he was a familiar face.
The premise of the Candian series had Howerd as an unemployed ne’er-do-well British immigrant who moved to a boarding house at 59 Wormvale Road in Toronto owned by nosy Mrs Otterby (Ruth Springford).
There, he lived amongst a small group of misfits, including buxom model and dancer Denise (Peggy Mahon), the permanently dishevelled, chain-smoking Wally Wheeler (Jack Duffy) – who lived in the house’s basement to escape from his ex-wife – and Mrs Otterby’s dim-witted geology student son, Hardin (Gary Files).
The style of the series stuck to the template provided by Up Pompeii!, with an opening monologue direct to the camera followed by Howerd regularly pausing proceedings and breaking the fourth wall to look straight at the camera and comment on the script or chastise the studio audience for their filthy minds.
Chronically cash-strapped, Frankie tried every occupation a man of his talents could wangle (a nightclub bouncer, a newspaper reporter, an interior designer, a TV station cook).
Through the course of the series, he had to confront the different Canadian institutions – including Canada Manpower, the Liquor Control Board, the Sheriff’s Department, a computing dating service and a funeral home – that might have helped him on the road to success.
Unfortunately, he failed every time – much like the show itself, which was cancelled after 13 weeks.
The Frankie Howerd Show was recorded at CBC-TV’s Studio 7 in Toronto and aired on Thursday nights from February to April 1976.
It was written by Bill Lynn, Jerry O’Flanagan and Ken Finkleman and produced by Norman Campbell and Bill Lynn.
Initially, the show was provisionally titled Oooh Canada! and had originally been conceived as a vehicle for the late Tony Hancock.
Mrs Otterby’s son (Hardin)