BBC, London, 1983
The blurb on the back:
Hi-de-hi! readers! Welcome to Maplin's. For the benefit of newcomers, there's Jeffrey Fairbrother, the entertainments manager, who used to be a professor at Cambridge. There's Ted Bovis, your camp host, his assistant, Spike Dixon, and Mr Partridge, the Punch-and-Judy man. There's Fred Quilly, who looks after the horses, and Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves, the stuck-up ballroom dancers. There's scatter-brained Peggy, the chalet maid, and, of course, there's Gladys Pugh, the chief yellowcoat. Finally, there's someone you haven't seen on your screens, Charley Binns, the senior camper, who knows all the secrets of Maplin's. He tells you about the night Jeffrey and Gladys were trapped in the Three Bears' Cottage, about how Ted raised the money for his wife's alimony, about the Most Popular Girl Yellowcoat Competition and many other things. With this book in your pocket your holiday is bound to be a happy one. And if you read it at home you'll think that you are on holiday. So Hi-de-hi! readers! Welcome back to Maplin's!
I was going to say that Hi-de-Hi! was something of an acquired taste, but that’s not strictly accurate – I doubt anyone ever acquired a taste for it as such, more a resigned acceptance that it was on and that it was a competent, if uninspiring sitcom. Following on from Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft went back for a third helping of nostalgia, and found themselves very much with the leftovers, since Joe Orton had already helped himself to the best holiday camp story in Erpingham Camp. Still, there were good characters, particularly the malevolent Punch & Judy man Mr Partridge (played by Leslie Dwyer), and Simon Cadell was absolutely wonderful in the early series as the entertainments manager. In short, it wasn’t the worst half-hour to spend in front of the television, but you wouldn’t be terribly upset if you missed it.
You won’t be surprised, however, that the book doesn’t get anywhere near the mark. It’s far too dependent on you knowing the characters and actors from the TV to make it in its own right, and the one original element – the Senior Camper, who relates the episodes here – is a straight steal of Wodehouse’s Oldest Member. I don’t know whether these plots are new, or whether they’re from the programmes: I didn’t recognize them particularly, but that counts for little.
Just one query, if you can help me: Does anyone remember the Elvis impersonator who was, I think, in the pilot episode but who subsequently disappeared? Who played him?
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 2/5
Porridge - the movie