"Why is it that the heart sinks, the knees sag and stark horror grips the soul at those three words: British Sex Comedy?"
— Tim Healey, The World's Worst Movies
During The Seventies
, when sex and nudity
in mainstream films were at their height and the boundary between soft-core porn and mainstream was blurred, the UK film industry's main product, aside from big-screen Brit Com
adaptations, consisted of low-budget comedies with sexual themes featuring a great deal of nudity and slapstick. Modern viewers almost universally agree that these were flat-out awful
films, but some enjoy them anyway
Most famous was the "Confessions" series, four films entitled Confessions... of a Window cleaner, of a Driving Instructor, of a Pop Performer
and from a Holiday Camp
. All of which followed the misadventures of lovable loser Timmy Lea (to quote the theme tune from the first episode "You're really not a loser, you just find it hard to win") as he bungles his way through a series of jobs set up for him by his brother-in-law, Sid Noggett, who happened to be played by the future father-in-law of a British Prime Minister. At every turn, Sid and Timmy attempt to have sex with every young woman they meet. Often successfully. Subplots include Sid's stormy marriage and Timmy's Dad's habit of stealing things from the lost property office where he works.
Other similar films were made at about the same time, including the derivative "Adventures" series, one episode of which, Adventures of a Taxi Driver
is said to have out-performed Martin Scorsese
's Taxi Driver
at the British box office; if true, this says a horrible thing about British culture in the '70s. Established comedy series, such as Carry On
, also converged with this type of film during The Seventies
All the films of this type were cheap, cheerful and cheesy. They also showed considerably more flesh and considerably less morality than modern sex comedies
. For example, remember how, at the end of American Pie 2
, our hero turns down the beautiful foreign student who has already got her tits out
and runs off after the band geek whom he has just realized he really loves? Timmy Lea would have shagged the foreign girl, then said , "Ta very much, love. Cheerio!" and then
ran off after the band geek. And the shag would have been on camera.
Referenced in an episode of St. Elsewhere
, where one of the patients revealed that he had — ahem — performed in them. He insisted that they were really quite funny.
Laden with tropes, including:
- Based on a Great Big Lie: The Confessions films were based on a long series of True Confessions of Timothy Lea books available from cheap paperback racks, all supposedly written by Lea himself as true accounts of his adventures (actually by Christopher Wood, who also wrote the screenplays, and whose Wikipedia bibliography actually specifies "excluding pseudonymous humorous erotica"). Wood was also responsible for the equally fictional True Confessons of Rosie Dixon books, the first of which was adapted into the film Rosie Dixon — Night Nurse.
- Camp Gay: As comedy relief only.
- Double Entendre: Rarely subtle.
- Fanservice: Pretty much the whole point.
- Food Fight: If drinks, soup, pies, cream buns etc can be used to make someone messy, they will be. This comes from "sploshing", the British take on "wet and messy" fetishism, with the idea being that British food is much more appealing if it's being worn.
- Hurricane of Puns: Goes without saying in a British comedy of any type.
- Lovable Coward: If the hero is in bed with a woman and her husband comes home, cue terrified dash with underpants at half mast.
- Porn with Plot: Well, enough plot that they could be presented as something other than porn, and shown in mainstream cinemas. And very softcore porn by modern standards. But frankly, the sex and the Fanservice seem to have been the point of the exercise for most people, both making and watching these things.
- Slapstick: As the easiest form of comedy.
- This Loser Is You: Implied, or why would you be identifying with this schmuck bumbling around with other men's wives?
- Values Dissonance: And not just in sexual matters either. For example, in Confessions from a Holiday Camp, Timmy is working at a camp where the campers are all assigned teams named after the suits in a pack of cards. Timmy approaches a black woman with, "Hello, you're a spade, aren't you?". And the jokes get worse from there.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: Endlessly.