By Jove, Missus, I have only just found out that the latest series of my all time favourite television programme, Fantasy Island, is actually made right here in Grotty Cash!
What I love about the series is the mixture of intrigue, heartbreak and comedy.
Apparently though, this series has gone way over budget, at least 64 million. Twice that if you count the episode about the people whose fantasy it was to have equal pay and that’s nowhere near finished. They really should ditch the Executive Producer and the directors and get somebody else in before the show is axed.
I met up and had dinner with the stars. (Ha, ha Pete Price!! One-Nil to Chucklebutty, and I asked them about you and they said, “never heard of him”) They took me around the magnificent Town Hall set and told me about the current episodes being filmed.
If you have missed it this is basically the plot so far, Brad Pratt, plays the part of a simple fireman, Wally Bradlow. He has a heart-warming fantasy, that people will just take him seriously, so he is put in charge of a Lambanana Republic and it all just crumbles around him. Poor Wally, every time he opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it and what’s more, he has no money to run the country and no idea where it has all gone.
The problem is of course that Wally is surrounded by intrigue and incompetence and quickly joins in the spin to hide his own inadequacy. Although a very sad story, comic relief is provided by veteran music hall star Frank Randle, as toothless Mike Stormey, the former leader and founder of the new republic. Pictured here reassuring Wally.
Stormey had to jump before being chased out of office for trying to rob a poor pensioner and kick him out of his job in previous hilarious episodes. That was a favourite of mine, it starred Gerald Campion as Sir Diddy, a greedy little jumped up pen pusher. But Stormey was no match for Diddy who wiped the floor with him clearing off with huge bags of loot. "Yaroooo!"
Despite Stormey being disgraced, his little protégé Wally just hadn’t the heart or the guts to get rid of Stormey and keeps giving him jobs, so the joke is kept going as he continually keeps popping up to embarrass everyone with his madcap antics as he tries to scheme his way out of trouble in the same old way, getting caught out each time.
This means poor hapless Wally has to deal with the legacy of Diddy’s departure and the gang of unscrupulous little corporals that Diddy left behind who all hate Stormey. Wally had hoped that the appointment of a new Chief Pen-pusher Hilton J Stilton, pictured right on the day he first saw the accounts and played by the silent screen star Harold Lloyd, would sort things out for him as a safe pair of hands. But then they realised the safe was empty, in fact Stilton emptied some of it himself with his new salary and bonuses and a string of pay-offs. So with yet more mad-cap schemes, even more money pours down the grid as they completely lose control.
All the ensuing calamities, cock-ups and attempted cover-ups continue to be leaked to the resistance movement, the TP47 brigade as they are known and a coup is feared.
So Harold Lloyd as Stilton, spends all his time hanging off a ledger whilst trying to cover-up Stormey’s schemes, Wally’s incompetence and all of the waste and allegations of corruption.
In a hair raising sequence as Stilton hangs by a thread after being caught trying to listen-in to a telephone call involving the leader of the opposition party, the outraged Joe Scandafone, played by James Robertson-Justice,all hell breaks loose!
Astonished to find Stilton hanging from a ledge outside his office window with an ear trumpet, Joe demands to know what is going on and seeks answers through The Feeling of Infiltration Act. To his horror, he discovers that Stilton has been monitoring calls, eavesdropping and rifling through everybody’s drawers.
What’s worse is that to spy on everybody and find the mole, he’s been using the services and technology of the evil Dr Dive InMeshowerhoney, to do it. Donald Pleasance gives his usual wonderfully creepy performance as the Doctor, who is the Head of Listen-in Direct, the company siphoning off all the state gold reserves.
But Stilton is no longer the innocent people thought he was. He was supposed to sort out the evil doctors empire but soon realised that if he did, the whole house of cards (all jokers) would come crashing down. So when Joe finds out he’s been under secret surveillance, Stilton quickly points the finger at his chief check-out girl who can never get her till to balance and that he wants to get rid of anyway.
Poor Phyllis Hearsall, is the less than innocent cashier, played by Joyce Grenfell.
In a stormy meeting, at the town hall, Joe tells everyone that it’s all a cover-up and a secret report had already shown who had been leaking all the state secrets to the resistance movement. Joe shows everybody a list of the number of times he has phoned for a Pizza, as recorded by Hearsall and demands the suspension of the series until the writers can up with a more believable script.
The last episode ended with Wally, Stormey, Stilton and Hearsall in the bar of the Phone-Tappers and Shunters Social Club with them all walking towards camera saying “what do we do next, what do we do next?”
Well I don’t know what they will do next either missus. I just hope they don’t axe the whole show. It’s like I Claudius meets Michael Bentine’s Potty Time.
Anyway you should all look out for it. Deidre Bartley in the Wrexham Post is one of the few TV critics that have done write-ups on the show. The Hecko seems too interested in Purple Ronnie’s obsession with men’s bicycle clips and Colleens hemlines to say much about it.
Every now and then, if it gets just too talked about to ignore, the Hecko will give a watered down review by Nick Columngone. But anyway, have a look at the fan site on the internet if you want to know more. It’s called The Vile Dispicablog or Liverpool-Bus-shelter, something like that. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Next week Mrs Chucklebutty will be reviewing the re-make of comedy courtroom drama: Perry Makin. Starring Ross Kemp.
Tatty bye Everybody TattyBye.