Written by the same team who wrote 'Dad's Army', it's strange that 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum' never remotely achieved the same amount of public affection as the legendary earlier series. It's true the characters in general aren't quite so strong and memorable and the series isn't as 'gentle' as DA, however 'It Ain't Half Hot' is still one of THE great sitcoms. The reason it hasn't been repeated very often must be down to the curse of 'political correctness' which seems to dog the BBC probably more than most institutions. Having a white actor (Michael Bates) playing an Indian isn't seen as the done thing these days - ironically Bates was actually born in India! Furthermore, much of the humour stems from the Sargeant Major's antipathy to foreigners and effeminate men. Whether this is politically correct or not, it is reflective of the character himself, the era the series was set in and the wartime situation; and most important of all it is very funny. The extras are a bit odd in that they comprise two episodes thought lost and never released on the previous VHS release - there were eight episodes in all in this first series. The two 'lost' episodes were discovered in Australia and are described as not of broadcastable quality. Although they are inferior sound and picture wise to the other six, they are perfectly viewable. However, it is evident that about four or five minutes have been edited from these two episodes as they are shorter than the others. What is odd about it is I would have thought that by the seventies the BBC had stopped losing/wiping programmes as they did in the sixties. Although the earlier series are probably the best (the series lost a lot when Michael Bates died after the fifth series) 'It Ain't Half Hot' maintained a remarkable consistency over eight series - I still have the last couple of episodes from the final series on VHS recorded from their original broadcasts in the early 80's - and it's to be hoped it isn't long before all are available on DVD, which hopefully will re-establish this series to its rightful place among the comedy greats. The second series is due out next month.
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