1 9 8 7 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Christopher Ryan was the fourth member of The Young Ones and the last for whom the BBC came up with a suitable vehicle for his particular talents – A Small Problem – set in a Britain where, if your height did not exceed five feet one, you were immediately placed into the ‘Smalls’ category, ostracised and forced to live in a specially constructed housing section of South London, known as The Ghettos.
The Smalls were prohibited from gathering in groups of more than four and banned from being on the streets after 9.00 pm
Strong Orwellian undertones flowed beneath the humour and the Smalls themselves were not without bigotry.
The National Council of Civil Liberties engaged in passionate defence of these unfortunates and the SLF (Small Liberation Front) struck out at the authorities, while the police raided innocent Housing Committee meetings, confiscating books such as Little Women.
Ryan was well cast as cinema projectionist Howard, who was secretly a hard-line member of the SLF and spent his time planning bombing campaigns.
Mike Elles costarred as Roy Pink who was 5ft ¾ inches tall and until recently had despised the Smalls. A change in EEC regulations, though, meant that the height limit must now be measured in metric units and 1m 55cm was the new cut-off – which suddenly categorised Roy as a Small.
Roy’s dog was shot by the council and he was evicted from his house and sent to live with the other “shrimpos” at Adelphi House in the Ghettos. He was also abandoned by his nearest and dearest, who preferred to believe that he had been eaten by wild dingos in Australia, rather than shamefully singled out as a ‘Small’.
Fred (Dickie Arnold) ran the Residents Association Group with his wife Lily (Christine Ozanne) and was constantly trying to make the best of a bad situation.
Other regular characters included petition-wielding libertarian Jenny (Cory Pulman) and the conniving Sid (“Big” Mick Walter) who called everyone a dickhead.
Drifting in and out of the plot were a Japanese businessman (Tetsu Nishino) and his wife (Sayo Inaba) who had been arrested at Heathrow Airport and confined to the Ghettos.
The joke had already worn thin by the end of the first episode and there simply wasn’t enough material to run to a whole series. The Goodies did it much better with their episode on “Apartheight” in South Africa back in 1975.
Unfortunately, viewers didn’t get the satire and the BBC were flooded with complaints about terms like “midget” and “dwarf”.
Mick Walter (Big Mick)
I’m as Liberal as the Next Man, But You Have to Draw the Line Somewhere | Curfew | We’ll Meet Again. Don’t Know Where. Don’t Know When | It Is Better to Travel Hopefully Than to Arrive | One Man’s Terrorist Is Another Man’s Freedom Fighter | Keep on Running. Keep on Hiding