Richard Lutz scans the TV film listings to find the diamonds among the dross – and delivers a surprise to top it all off.
Peter Sellers, that manic and volatile British comedian, hit it big with The Mouse that Roared (Fri, Film4, 15.45).
He basically took over the 1960 film and won over the US with this whimsical little movie about a fictitious European country called the Grand Duchy of Fenwick that wages war on Washington…and wins.
Sellers, his Goon Show experience helping with his improv style, shoulders three roles: The Grand Duchess, the Disraeli-like Chief Advisor and the hero/schlemiel Tully , who takes his bow and arrow medieval troops over to Manhatten to declare war on the Yanks.
It is a delightful wee fable and maybe Sellers’ best role(s) if you don’t count his marriage to Britt Eklund later in the decade. The absurd plot highlights the comic’s ability to play dumb (Tully), arch (the Grand Duchess) and connivingly evil (the courtier/chief advisor). It set him up perfectly for his crazed Dr Strangelove and the Inspector Clouseau roles which he sadly drove into the muddy ground.
Coincidentally, as the movie was being shot, Sellers was on the West End in a play with a similar plot. So, each day of filming ended with him being driven back to The theatre world to reel out a near identical storyline about taking on the mighty Yanks.
The timing of this mid-afternoon gem can’t come at a better time for couch potatoes. The Sellers silliness ends at 17.30. Then you can gobble down a curry (NB: that’s what Brits do on a Friday night – fact) and settle back for a treat and a half.
Then comes starlight and fireworks. Starting at 19.00 (that’s 7pm to you and me), BBC4 hands over its total night’s output to bloody Keith Richards…bloody hell.
Keef curates an evening of his own favourite shows, music, cartoons, movies and god knows what else. Keith Richards TV, for God’s sake.
Bloody effin’ hell. Strike a light and call me Nora. What’s next- a fat foul mouthed creep running for Prez?