In the second episode of this ninth and final series of the gentle and distinctly middle-class sitcom Terry And June, we’re introduced to the latest fire extinguisher of Terry’s Playsafe Fire Extinguishers and Appliances workplace, special because it is designed to automatically set off thanks to a small chip inside it. Alongside this unlikely product are strewn the popular electrical items of the decade, including early iterations of portable phones and digital watches that naturally confound Terry. I had a bizarre fascination with this technology as it is so far removed from what we know today and shows how far society has progressed over the course of little over twenty years.
The technology is also symptomatic of a wider issue surrounding this once ridiculously popular sitcom, one of outdatedness. Attitudes to women, workplaces and the upper echelons of class are portrayed in a way that would be simply unrecognisable to today’s alternative comedy-loving teens and I’m absolutely convinced that they would hate this series, so if you’re reading this and you are said teen, then I’d probably steer clear. For the rest of us, while the themes and attitudes might be old hat, there is still an awful lot of pleasure to be had from the performances of the wonderful Terry Scott. While all around him is falling down and people are losing their heads, Terry is always there to go one better.
Slapstick comedy is high on the series agenda and Scott carries it out with great aplomb. The opening title sequence alone places Terry in a preposterous situation. Why anyone would be stupid enough to drag a boat in from a river by lying between moor and boat, midriff dangerously close to the water is anyone’s guess. June’s attempt to help by dragging his feet towards her, naturally resulting in Terry getting wet, is utterly predictable but still elicited a chortle from me nonetheless.
Towards the end of its run Terry And June became something of a scapegoat for alternative comedies and comedians looking to tear down the old establishment, its middle class middle England sensibilities viewed as being unquestionably out of step with the world. It’s easy to see why, as it broke no new ground, brought no new ideas to the table and probably outstayed its welcome by the end of its eight-year run. Personally, I think the rallying against it was somewhat unfair, though.
Sure, it’s never going to win any prizes for downright hilarity, but it still raises enough laughs and chuckles to be worthy of a watch now and again. I don’t think I could get through the whole nine series, but dipping into this final outing for the pair was a surprising treat.