In 1976, the United States of America celebrated its Bicenntennial. Eyebrows were raised when that same year Granada came up with a peak-time sitcom called 'Yanks Go Home!'. Set in the north-west town of Warrington during 1942, it told how the local air base was taken over by gum-chewing, cigar-chomping U.S. Air Force troops, dispensing chocolate, stockings and chat to the grateful local girls while the older generation looked on in abject disgust. With the B.B.C.'s 'Dad's Army' coming to an end, I.T.V. pinned their hopes on 'Yanks Go Home' becoming a sort of successor. It was not to be. David Croft and Jimmy Perry's show had already covered the subject, in the episode 'My British Buddy'. 'Yanks Go Home' had the makings of a decent sitcom, but was let down by inconsistent writing. Some weeks it would be funny, other weeks not at all.
There was nothing wrong with the quality of the cast, though. As the wheeling-and-dealing 'Corporal Vince Rossi' was Stuart Damon, familiar to cult television fans as 'Craig Stirling' from the spy series 'The Champions'. He later penned an episode. The bellicose 'Sergeant Gus Pulaski' was Bruce Boa, a.k.a. 'Mr.Johnson' from the 'Waldorf Salad' episode of 'Fawlty Towers. Meg Johnson, later to appear in 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale', was the glamourous barmaid 'Phoebe Sankey'. Norman Bird appeared in Season 1, while Peter Sallis joined in Season 2. David Ross - 'Harry Duckworth' - became the first 'Kryten' in 'Red Dwarf'. Alan McNaughtan was 'Colonel Ralph Kruger' in Season 1, but by Season 2 he'd gone and instead we got Lionel Murton as 'Colonel Irving'. Barbara Mitchell and Patrick Troughton guested in one episode. The series concluded with Phoebe's dimwitted daughter 'Doreen' - Catherine Neilson - marrying Jay Benedict's 'Private Tutt'. Probably the funniest cast member was the late Freddie Earlle as bespectacled 'Corporal Pasquale'.
As well as 'Dad's Army', a major influence was 'Sergeant Bilko' with the Yanks constantly trying to make money off each other and the locals.
Despite occupying I.T.V.'s top comedy slot of Monday night at 8 o'clock - previously held by, amongst other things, 'Oh No Its Selwyn Froggitt', 'The Cuckoo Waltz', and 'Spring & Autumn' - the show was only moderately successful. Had it been a B.B.C. production, I think it would have turned out better.
It will be interesting to see it again after all this time. Don't expect a forgotten comedy classic though. A letter writer to a Sunday paper claimed he remembered the war and the arrival of the G.I.'s on British soil, and liked 'Yanks Go Home' even less! There are no extras on the D.V.D. For your money you get both seasons.
CODA: I have now seen the D.V.D. and was right - it is no classic. Worth seeing mainly for David Ross and Freddie Earlle.