made by Thames Television
broadcast by the ITV
networks in the mid-Seventies. Love Thy Neighbour
is frequently dragged out of the archives to show how bad television
was in the old days
(although ironically, no TV producer would have dreamt of making something as cheap and nasty
as a compilation of 'bad TV moments' back in the '70s). The premise of the show is this : a racist
white man (Jack Smethurst
) learns that his new neighbours are a black West Indian
couple (Rudolph Walker
, Nina Baden-Stemper
). Hijinks Ensue
Whenever the show is mentioned today, it's always as "nasty, xenophobic filth". Without wishing to defend the program (which was, when it comes down to it, a Bad Thing), these criticisms are not wholly justified. At the time the show was made, race relations in Britain were much more frayed than today. The show's writers had no doubt been influenced by the success of Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part, and attempted a similar kind of satire, except due to being considerably less talented, their resulting programme was much more heavy handed and aimed at a broader (read stupider) audience.
It's not something I'd want to see on television now, but to pick holes in its anachronistic (and worryingly popular - the show ran for seven series) world view is missing the point. It is possible to make jokes about race (not the same as racist jokes), in fact many performers have made a living out of this. (As a vitriolic aside : Meera Syal would be more credible telling people what they can and can't make jokes about if she'd ever written anything remotely amusing in her life.)
Trivia fact : One of the producers and directors of the show was none other than 15 to 1's William G. Stewart.