Friday 27 January 2017

Week 25 - The Grambler remembers Allo Allo

Stewart was an amazing person - A wonderful husband, a fantastic brother, a loving son and an adored uncle. He was also a brilliant friend and colleague and is missed by so many people. His family are determined that his death will never be in vain and are doing their part to beat bowel cancer for good. We are fundraising for the Bobby Moore Fund which is part of Cancer Research UK and specialises in research into bowel cancer. If you wish to donate to the fund, you can via .

If you haven’t already done so, please read the article which appeared in the Daily Record and learn from Stewart’s story that you must never be complacent. It makes grim reading for us, his family, even though we were beside him throughout his ordeal, or battle; call it what you will.

Similarly, if you haven’t heard it, please listen to Geraldine’s moving radio interview which was on Radio Scotland recently.

Stewart began writing The Grambler when he was between procedures and hoping for some form of recovery. He loved all aspects of football and was a lifelong Motherwell supporter. His wish was that The Grambler should continue after his death and I have been happy to oblige. Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see. Read on and enjoy


I heard in the news that the world of the business known as show has lost another star. Gordon Kaye. My first reaction was... who? My second reaction on hearing that his most famous character was Rene from Allo Allo was... oh god yes. That awful piece of crap. It was the worst programme ever to be shown in the name of comedy. And he was in it. Er... that’s it. Oh, I nearly forgot, a tree fell on him once. [It’s hardly likely to fall on him twice, is it? - Ed.]
Wait a minute, I hear you say. Wasn't Allo Allo the comedy sitcom that ran for ten years, nine series and a total of 85 episodes, including two Christmas specials? How can that be considered to be the worst comedy programme ever?
I'll tell you why. The situation. That's what makes it the worst comedy ever. How could anyone ever consider the resistance movement in Nazi occupied France during the Second World War to be a suitable subject to make fun of?  Those who were involved in the resistance risked torture or death if ever they were caught. Hardly laugh a minute stuff.
Ah, you counter, but what about Dad's Army? That was a sitcom based on the antics of a home guard unit in the same war; surely that also shouldn't have been considered a fit subject to be laughed at.
I disagree. [Who the hell are you talking to? - Ed.] The home guard units were considered daft by many even during the war. Remember, the men who formed the home guard or local defence volunteers were those that were either too young or too old to fight as soldiers. Many of the older members had fought in the Great War. Some had even fought in the Boer war. This disparate mob was supposed to protect us in the event of an invasion? Rob Wilton based his wartime comedy routines on the silliness of the concept.  Here he is explaining to his wife his role in the home guard...
'... I says, I'm going to stop Hitler's army invading. She says, what on your own. I says no, there's seven or eight of us.'
Also in Dad's Army's favour is the fact that it was a British comedy aimed at British viewers, many of whom had been part of the home guard and (strangely) had fond memories of the time. The French resistance?  How can the heroics of a group of brave individuals who risked their lives trying to thwart a regime as brutal as the Nazis be thought to be in the least bit amusing to the British public?
David Croft, who came up with the idea, perhaps had a bet with a mate down the pub that he could make a comedy out of anything no matter how serious the subject. Maybe he had seen the film The Producers and its Springtime for Hitler show.  Obviously, Croft’s proposal for a sitcom about the cruelty of Vlad the Impaler was considered a bit too frivolous. What about the Ku Klux Klan and its atrocities? Far too lightweight. Genocide in Russia and China? Apartheid? Terrorism? Why didn't they get the comedy treatment, then?
The reason is the same as the reason that Allo Allo should never have been commissioned. There is nothing funny about death and torture.
To me, Allo Allo is the low-point of British comedy; an embarrassment from start to finish. The sad thing is, I am in the minority here. Millions watched this awful programme week after week, series after series and thought it hilarious.
I think I have an idea for a comedy. It revolves around these Jewish people imprisoned in a walled city with no food or water and their hilarious antics trying to escape. I've even come up with a title... Ghetto me out of here.
All right. I apologise. That is bad taste in the extreme. What a pity nobody at the Beeb Beeb Ceeb realised the same about Allo Allo when that idea was first put to them.




There isn’t much happens in Orkney. There can’t be if the big story of the week is anything to go by. The main news item is that a library book has been returned 43 years late. Yawn. That isn’t the record for lateness. In Ireland in 2012 one was returned after 80 years and in 2016 a Hereford school library book was returned after 120 years.

Apparently, the fine was waived for all of them. Thank goodness. The Orkney one would, by my dodgy reckoning, have a fine of £447 to pay if 20 pee per week overdue is the going rate. The Irish one £832 (sorry, meant 707 euros) and the Hereford one a crazy £1248.

It's hard to believe isn't it?  Not the fact that someone should have returned a library book after 43 years, but that Orkney still has a library.




Were any famous or notorious people born on the 28th of January? Of course. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Henry VII 1457 (Number VIII’s dad. The last king of England to gain the crown in the field of battle when his troops beat those of Richard III on Bosworth Field. See? Educational this is.), Henry Morton Stanley 1841 (presumptuous journalist.), Artur Rubenstein 1887 (Ivory tickler.), Jackson Pollock 1912 (Major figure in the abstract expressionist art movement, it says here.), Harry Corbett 1918 (Bye bye, everybody. Bye bye.), Ronnie Scott 1927 (Club owner.), Bernard ‘Acker’ Bilk 1929 (Trad jazz man. He wrote and performed 1962’s biggest-selling record which spent 50 weeks in the charts. Why am I telling you this? So that I can give you this week’s first clip... Ladeez and gennulum, I give you Stranger on the Shore.), Roy Clarke 1930 (TV scriptwriter. He has penned, ahem, The Misfit, The Growing Pains of PC Penrose, Open All Hours, Rosie, Potter, The Magnificent Evans and Keeping Up Appearances. He also gave us the long-running sitcom of three silly old men behaving like big kids. [What? Top Gear? - Ed.] No, not Top Gear. The original programme that Top Gear was obviously based on... Last of the Summer Wine which ran from 1973 to 2010, 31 series in all.), David Lodge 1935 (Rather good author.), Alan Alda 1936 (Hawkeye.), Dick Taylor 1943 (Trivia. Taylor was a founding member of the Pretty Things, but had previously been the bassist for the Rolling Stones who he had left to go to art college. Not the best decision, perhaps. Actually, the Pretty Things were a much underrated band. By 1968 they were producing music that was very much a forerunner of Prog Rock. Ladeez and gennulum, if you have 45 minutes to spare, enjoy S.F. Sorrow.), John Tavener 1944 (Musical landlord.), Robert Wyatt 1947 (Soft Machine and Matching Mole - from the French machine molle which means soft machine - drummer and singer. Had a hit with this... All together now... I thought love was only true in fairy tales... ), Nicolas Sarkozy 1955 (Little French President.), Frank Skinner 1957 (Chat chat chat. Laugh laugh laugh. A Flint Street reference there.), Gianluigi Buffon 1978 (Footy bloke.), Jamie Carragher 1978 (Another footy bloke. My absolute favourite football pundit. [I presume you are being sarcastic? - Ed.] Indeed I am.), Papa Bouba Diop 1978 (Yet another footy bloke.), Nick Carter 1980 (Singer, songwriter, actor, dancer, record producer, author and video director... In fact, a right old smarty boots.), Elijah Wood 1981 (Hobbit with huuuge eyes.) and Jessica Ennis-Hill 1986 (Runny, jumpy, chucky woman.).




Let’s move on to grambling matters. How did we do last week? We got some money back. Not much, though. £1.98. So, we actually lost 22 pees. What happened? Read on...


Aston Villa vs Preston - Prediction Home win

Result - Aston Villa 2 Preston 2

Ooh! ’It the bar!

The hosts were in control at half-time as Albert Adomah first tapped home the opener and then converted a penalty after being fouled by Aiden ‘I’m Irish, honest’ McGeady.

But Jordan Hugill found the top corner after a mazy run and then headed in McGeady's cross from close range to level.


Blackburn vs Birmingham - Prediction Home win

Result - Blackburn 1 Birmingham 1

Ooh! ’It the bar!

City were in front inside three minutes as keeper Jason Steele brought down David Cotterill and Lukas Jutkiewicz converted the penalty.

Rovers levelled in first-half stoppage time when Danny Graham swept in from 10 yards after Derrick Williams' cut-back.


Cardiff vs Burton Albion - Prediction Home win

Result - Cardiff 1 Burton 0


Rhys Healey flashed home a header after Burton failed to clear a free-kick in stoppage time. Er... that’s it.


Derby vs Reading - Prediction Home win

Result - Derby 3 Reading 2


John Swift put Reading ahead from close range before Darren Bent levelled with Derby's only effort before the break.

Tom Ince, met a Craig Bryson pass to make it 2-1.

Will Hughes swept in a third as the Rams held on, with Yakou Meite pulling one back before Reading had Jordan Obita sent off for a second yellow.


Huddersfield vs Ipswich - Prediction Home win

Result - Huddersfield 2 Ipswich 0


Isaiah Brown put the Terriers into the lead towards half-time with a curling shot past Dean ‘Pickle’ Gerken.

Christopher ‘Liftman’ Schindler doubled the score after the break, pouncing close-in after Gerken saved a Philip Billing shot.


Three out of five predictions spot on and we still didn’t get all our stake money back. It was just unfortunate that the results The Grambler got right had really short odds. Oh well. What can he/she/it come up with this week?

Game - Result - Odds

Bristol Rovers vs Swindon - Prediction Home win - 3/4

Bolton vs Charlton - Prediction Home win - 10/11

Carlisle vs Barnet - Prediction Home win - 19/20

Portsmouth vs Exeter - Prediction Home win - 3/4

Yeovil vs Doncaster - Prediction Away win - 11/10


All matches kick off at 3pm on Saturday the 28th of January. The bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if they all go according to The Grambler’s Prediction, the Bobby Moore Fund stands to receive a whopping...


Hmm. Reasonably whopping.




Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you what Tommy Hutchison did to enter the record books in the FA Cup final of 1981. As I said, the match had to be replayed because the first ended in a one all draw after extra time. What was his claim to fame? He was the first player to score for both sides in an FA Cup final... Indeed, he was also the first player to score all the goals in a drawn match. [What if it’s a goalless draw? Eh? Answer that smartypants. - Ed.]

One for this week? One from way way back. Again, it is a question about the FA Cup. In which year was the FA Cup first won by a team that contained no players to have been capped at full international level? It was also the first time a team from outside the top division of English football won the cup. Second part of this week’s teaser? Name that team.




As usual, let’s finish with a mention of the main reason for continuing to publish this blog – to raise awareness about bowel cancer. If you have any bowel problems, don’t be fobbed off with the line that you are too young for bowel cancer to be a consideration. Just point your doctor in the direction of


And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, I am indebted to a Mr R. Clarke, one of our birthday celebrants. As mentioned in the birthday honours, he wrote Last of the Summer Wine for a staggering 37 years, making it the longest-running sitcom ever. It beat its nearest rival, Only Fools and Horses, by 15 years. Towards the end of its days, Last of the Summer Wine became something of a last hurrah for any old comedy actors. The comedy also became broader and a bit sillier over the years. It began in 1973 as a programme about three old pals - one a complete layabout, one an ex-military man and one recently widowed and made redundant - who just spent the long days doing little but pontificate about life. Take a look at this week’s finishing link of the very first episode which was screened as part of a BBC Comedy Playhouse series before it got the go-ahead from the bigwigs at the Beeb. It was far gentler and subtler than the later more frenetic programmes. I hope you enjoy it (Apologies for the advertising breaks every so often. Outwith my control.)




Happy grambling.


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