1 9 7 6 (Australia)
4 x 50 minute episodes
Frankie Howerd, master of the lecherous leer and raised eyebrow, took a sojourn down under for Up The Convicts, a short series of four 50-minute specials for the Australian Seven Network.
Set in 1820’s Sydney, Howerd played Jonathan Shirk, a convict who worked as a servant for a family of wealthy Botany Bay colonists – the doddery Sir Montague and fussily well-meaning Lady Fitzgibbon (Wallas Eaton and Carol Raye).
Among the other characters featured were the mincingly camp waste collector Quinney the Garbo (played by Howerd’s long-time friend and former partner, Lee Young), the boomingly bad-tempered and hook-handed villain Sergeant Bastion (Frank Thring), and an assortment of young buxom wenches including Kate Fitzpatrick, Anne Lambert, Jacki Weaver and Abigail.
The usual double-entendres were generously sprinkled throughout the series.
Unfortunately, the episodes were too long and too slow-paced. There was also an under-rehearsed ‘rough-and-ready’ feel to the shows, and it was evident that not all of the Australian cast were used to playing in front of a noisy studio audience, with Howerd having to save their laugh-drowned lines with the odd “Eh?’ ‘What was that?” or “Say it again?”
Debuting on Thursday 19 August 1976, the rest of the episodes were spread out over the remainder of the year in September and December.
Sir Montague Fitzgibbon
Quinney the Garbo