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Thunderbird 3 Rides Again
on 28 January 2007
A blast form my past, back in those dim, distant days when TV was mainly back & white, finished at 10:30pm Sundays to Thursdays and ITV could still churn out half-decent sitcoms.
Although I was only about 7 or 8 years old at the time this forgotten gem had its run on national TV, I could still recall bits and pieces of various episodes.
For those who can't remember that far back (or who just don't care to) "The Dustbinmen" was the one of the first TV outings for the late Jack Rosenthal, who had premiered the concept with a TV play "There's A Hole In Your Dustbin, Deliliah" (also included in the package, along with a 10 minute sketch for an 1970 ITV Christmas show).
With a few changes in cast a series was commissioned and hit the road in 1969 where it ran for 3 series; although Rosenthal stopped writing the seies towards the end of Series 2 and was replaced by a number of writers including "Coronation Street" writer Adele Rose and actor Kenneth Cope who turn out one episode each
The series follows the misadventures of Number Three Gang from a Cleanisng depot somewhere in Manchester and who are made up of Heavy Breathing (Trevor Bannister) a rather reluctant sex-symbol for the ladies of the gang's area; bellicose, devoted Manchester City fan Winston (Graham Haberfield)- driver of the gang's cart, Thunderbird 3 - and naive, slightly dim,Welsh lad Eric (Tim Wylton)whose ambition is to own a colour television. Keeping the lads together is the worldly wise Cheese & Egg (Bryan Pringle) always on the look out for a fiddle or a skive and always with one eye out for the harassed Inspector, (Frank Windsor in the play, John Woodvine in the first series, Brian Wilde thereafter) less than affectionately nicknamed "Bloody Delilah" and his pet snoop Smellie Ibbotson.
A frequent target of the Clean Up TV Campain due to it's (for the ime) strong language - "Bloody" and "piggin'" feature in alomst every sentence along with the traditional British 2-fingered salute every couple of minutes.
If nothing else, telly addicts and "Coronation Street" fans in particular, will enjoy spotting a few famous faces throught. Paula Wilcox appears in two episodes as Winston's long suffering girlfriend Naomi (Winston does love her - but not half as much as he loves Colin Bell!) and there are appearances by "Street" stalwarts Julie Goodyear, Bryan Mosley, Peter Dudley & Barbara Knox (Billed as Barbara Mullaney) as well as "Emmerdale" favourite Paula Tilbrook, "Juliet Bravo"'s Stephanie Turner and an appearance by Helen Fraser, playing a dolly-bird who couldn't be further removed from her "Bad Girls" character, Sylvia "Bodybag" Hollingby.
In fairness all 3 series do now seem dated and chuckles rather than belly laughs and certain epsidodes picture quality do dip from time to time; but overall a very underrated sitcom that's well worth a watch - especially at the price given here!