by NORMAN HUDIS
author of the successful Carry On series of films, who has written Moving in to Our House, the new ABC comedy series televised on Sunday afternoon
THERE are tricks in every trade — and writing is no exception. I have tried to master a few, but there is one I have never licked, and that is to write about something I have already written. As I am trying to do now — to write about this series called Our House.
It’s a problem. If I write a modest bit of self-effacement I’m suspect, because so many people know me as an egoist: if I beat the big drum and confidently forecast weekly nationwide enthusiasm from Sunday onwards, I would (quite rightly) meet resistance from viewers.
The only way out is to tell about the show and its characters as straightforwardly as I can.
Our House is a series of comedy (I think!) plays about nine people who only have one thing in common — and yet have to live together under one roof. They meet by chance in that modern dreamland — an estate agent’s office — all looking urgently for somewhere to live. Individually, they pale and tremble at the prices asked: collectively, in a sudden flash of optimism, they realise that together, pooling their resources, they can solve the housing problem — by purchasing one big house between them.
The idea is sound common-sense. But people are people, and when they are ill-assorted people, necessity is the mother of their mortgage. I took it from there, and have some hundreds of pages of script and a dustbinful of dog-ends to prove it.
These are the folk I hope you’ll get to know — and like:
GEORGINA RUDDY (Hattie Jacques): Works in a public library, but hates quiet! Has just got to have a place of her own because, noisy at home, she’s running out of bed sitting-rooms to be slung out of.
SIMON WILLOW (Charles Hawtrey): A pillar of the local council’s rating department. Blithe, friendly, but lonely — another victim of bed-sitter life; and nursing a secret ambition far removed from matters municipal.
DAISY BURKE (Joan Sims): A trial to the labour exchange. Will she never settle in one job for more than a week?
CAPTAIN and MRS ILIFFE (Frank Pettingell and Ina de la Haye): A Yorkshireman, former merchant navy captain, and a retired French violinist; a healthy and explosive marital mixture.
STEPHEN and MARCIA HATTON (Trader Faulkner and Leigh Madison): Newlyweds. He’s a freelance artist, and insists on fighting the world; but she’s always in his corner.
GORDON BRENT (Norman Rossington): A law student who hasn’t yet learned one law of life — that a man should do what he wants to do, not what his father thinks he ought to do. Our House helps him to learn this lesson.
HERBERT KEENE (Frederick Peisley): Bank clerk, bachelor to an extreme, meek, easy meat for landladies, a great organiser.
I can’t explain how the characters suggested themselves, I only know that, once they did, they were real to me