1 9 7 8 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
22 x 25 minute episodes
This alleged sitcom from London Weekend Television followed the relationship of Thomas Simpson (Christopher Blake) and Susan Lambert (Muriel Odunton). They had recently graduated from university, they were in love and wanted to live together – but he was white and she was black.
In late 1970s Britain this was an emotive issue, with both sets of parents disapproving. Eventually, Thomas’s Aunt Dorothy (Joan Sanderson) invited them to set up home in her basement flat.
Viewed by a contemporary audience, in a time where interracial marriage barely raises an eyebrow, the show seems a succession of racial stereotypes and myths.
One episode sees the nosy Mrs Beasley (Pauline Delany) repeatedly inform Aunt Dorothy whenever a black visitor is at the door.
When Dorothy inquires as to why Mrs Beasley only sees fit to inform her of the black visitors, the response is, “Well, they’re black aren’t they?”.
The notion of “us” and “them” is expressed through a succession of characters, including Mrs Beasley and Thomas’s mother (Sylvia Kay), whose main purpose seems to be to make endlessly politically incorrect statements. On seeing a black engineer in one episode, she feels compelled to offer him a banana . . .
While the show understandably reflected the confused racial attitudes of the time, it’s unclear whether it was the prejudices of the supporting characters or the very idea that a white man and black woman could live in matrimonial harmony which was being held up for ridicule.