Season 1: Episode4:
[This episode posted on 7th February; Next episode will be posted on Monday, 14th February 2011]
About Mind Your Language Series:
Lampooned by the evil empire of the late 20th century that was the pedantically insistent "political correctness brigade" while being dearly cherished by everyone with half a funny-bone all around the world, Mind Your Language, arguably the most well-known British comedy series, written by Vince Powell for London Weekend Television, was essentially a realist's look at the rapidly changing, and often confusing cultural hotpot that was Britain in the 1970s.
This decade was marked by rampant international conflicts, triggered by intellectually defined unrest in various nations around the world, fuelled by the Western-Soviet Cold War, and juxtaposed with the existential, spiritual and anarchic after-effects of the global liberalist revolution of the 60s. Thrown into this brew was the great and varied influx of immigrants,highly skilled, skilled and not-so-skilled, from everywhere and beyond, seeking opportunity, learning and/or asylum in the UK, encouraged by the introduction of cheap international civil aviation networks.
The sudden and very real multi-cultural cosmopolitanism was at once bewildering and exotically interesting for both the natives and the newcomers, and their interactions led to observations which stemmed from the obviously incomplete understanding of the many cultures that were squeezing into the insular island, thus giving birth to stereotypes of the various peoples which remain to this day.
Before the malicious evolution of racial tensions which these paved way to in the succeeding decades, such stereotypes were a source of curious exploration and rich amusement, and it is that aspect of actual cultural integration and its harmonising beauty which shaped the premise of Mind Your Language, and not the prospect of vindictively attacking other races, which may be the norm today. This is clearly evidenced by the involvement of talented ethnic artistes not only in the cast, but also in the other vital aspects of production, including technical ones, which may possibly have been a first in the history of British Television. In addition, it is to be noted that the stereotypical jokes were never exclusively aimed at foreigners, but they also very prominently featured the British side of the story, whether it is the uncouth antics of the ageing London Cockney Sidney (Tommy Godfrey) or the contrasting stiff upper lip pomposity and class-conscious tight-fistedness of Mrs (Oops, Miss) Courtney (Zara Nuttley).
The show was characterised by simplistically textured, almost naively ridiculous light-heartedness, but never losing the balance on sarcastic trajectory and always ensuring aching ribs by uncontrollable laughter universally, through strategic situations occurring approximately every 15 seconds. It is this charming capability that made Mind Your Language a hot favourite among audiences all over the world, particularly the people of the featured nationalities. Though it may look simple and somewhat crude, such delicate balance and precision of comic timing was made possible by the acuity in Vince Powell's screenwriting, and more importantly the astonishing talent of the cast, many of who were true stalwarts of acting, including:
The fabulous Barry Evans (Mr. Brown, the Teacher), who had already gained national fame playing the simpleton medical student Michael Upton in the series Doctor in the House, but whose youthful looks went against the development of his future career, leading him to a life of utter poverty and an untimely tragic death in 1997.
Dino Shafeek (Ali Nadim) the Bangladesh-born expressionist genius who was highly regarded in Indo-Anglian production circles (Merchant-Ivory and others), following the role of Char Wallah Muhammad in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, and of course, the most popular, ultra-lovable unemployed Pakistani on government-benefits, in this one.
Françoise Pascal (Danielle Favre, the French beauty), the Mauritius-born actress and later human rights activist, whose brains matched her pulchritude, and who, along with Kevork Malikyan (Max Papandrious, the Greek charmer) and George Camiller (Giovanni Capello, the Italian 'Smart-Ass'), went on to build quite a successful career in serious and aesthetically accomplished American and World Cinema, starring alongside legends like Anthony Quinn.
Interesting Tidbit: Françoise Pascal is hosting a lunch in memory of Barry Evans and Vince Powell, on 6th February, 2011 at Maida Vale, London and inaugurating the Mind Your Language Heritage Charity Foundation, tickets to which are available at: http://francoise-pascal.com/#/latest-news/4532704822
Anna Bergman (Ingrid Svensson, the Swedish blonde in Seasons 2 & 4), daughter of famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (who is perhaps one of the most accomplished and influential film directors of all time), and choreographer-director Ellen Bergman.
With such a strong team, it is small wonder that Mind Your Language went on to rewrite television history, and become a definite worldwide phenomenon. However, the overbearing concerns raised by the previously mentioned 'political correctness brigade' on the show being "racist", caused it to unfortunately discontinue after three seasons, in 1979, though an attempt to revive the hilariously charming English Class with one more season and new cast in 1986 did not meet with much success. This was primarily due the absence of Ali, as the veteren Dino Shafeek who had played him had died of a sudden heart attack on March 10, 1984.
In an era where racial tensions mount exponentially over mere trifles, and even harmless jests are interpreted as the precursors to a potential race war; where the speed of life and declining quality of art and aesthetics have robbed us of any good opportunities to sit back and enjoy a a thoroughly genuine, loud belly-laugh, we at Sneha Sandesham hope that bringing you Mind Your Language, a wonderful creation from the past, but possibly more relaxed period would help in providing you tremendous pleasure over the coming year, and also help the new generation to reflect on current social perspectives and their artificially erected walls on presumed moral high ground. More fundamentally, we hope this would teach the new generation to take life easy and enjoy it more fully with generous doses of Nature's Best Medicine.