THE fact that Albanians are big Norman Wisdom fans is extremely well known. This might have had something to do with the fact that under the old Communist regime, hapless Norman’s films were the only foreign movies that were allowed. Even so, their enthusiasm was heartfelt.
But I read this week that reruns of “Dad’s Army” are also fantastically popular in Albania. A pattern is emerging.
The zany antics of Norman Wisdom and of the Walmington-on Sea Home Guard are both of them affectionate but needle-sharp skewerings of the British class system and they both show the little man ultimately triumphing over adversity.
An ideal message for the hard-pressed proletariat of the Glorious People’s Republic of Albania. And you get lots of slapstick as well.
Are there other quintessentially British comedies that have the potential to be massive in Albania?
“On The Buses”? Well, it was an unsparing dissection of gender stereotypes and Stan Butler was an everyman figure who usually triumphed over the frankly fascistic figure of Blakey.
Yep. Send the Albanians a boxed set of “On the Buses”. They’ll love it.
Another show they might go for is “Terry and June”, which we are in a position to reappraise because one of the satellite channels is currently showing it wall-to-wall.
Unfairly regarded as the cosiest of British sitcoms, “Terry and June” is in fact a forensic examination of the plight of the lower-middle classes in an advanced capitalist economy. Observe the way that Terry Medwin is constantly exploited by Sir Dennis Hodge, with his upper class sense of entitlement.
But unlike Norman Wisdom, Captain Mainwaring, or Stan Butler, the hapless Terry – after many mishaps – does NOT invariably triumph over adversity. Often he ends up even deeper in the soup.
So maybe the message of “Terry and June” is rather too bleak for the Albanians. They should be OK with “George and Mildred” or “My Family”, however...