Series / Love Thy Neighbour

Eddie and Bill having a quiet neighbourly chat while Joan and Barbie are poised to intervene

Oh, love thy neighbour!
Walk up and say "How be ya?
Gee, but I'm glad to see ya, pal,
How's tricks? What's new?"
Theme tune, not performed by Bing Crosby.

Love Thy Neighbour was a British sitcom, which was transmitted from 1972 to 1976, with seven series in total. The sitcom was produced by Thames Television for the ITV network. The principal cast were actors Jack Smethurst, Rudolph Walker, Nina Baden-Semper and Kate Williams. In 1973, the series was adapted into a film of the same name, and a later sequel series was set in Australia.

Written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, the show was based around a suburban white working class couple in Twickenham, Londonnote , attempting to come to terms with having a black couple as next-door neighbours. Love Thy Neighbour was hugely popular at the time of its broadcast and remains popular on archive channels and Net outlets such as YouTube. It should be seen as a product of its times, The '70s being an era in which Britain struggled to come to terms with its recently arrived population of black immigrants; Love Thy Neighbour exemplified this struggle. It aroused great controversy for many of the same reasons as the earlier Till Death Us Do Part had done. The appalling bigot Eddie Booth could well be seen as ITV's answer to Alf Garnett, a northern Englishman cut from the same cloth.

The show is extremely politically incorrect, and because of its language and attitudes could never be repeated on mainstream TV today. Because of the racist language used, readers are advised that looking up excerpts on YouTube or elsewhere would not be considered NSFW.

Retrospective opinion is beginning to be kind to this show and acknowledges that while it can never be shown again or even remade, it was in some respects intelligently funny and like Till Death Us Do Part, the ignorant racist was the Butt Monkey who always came off worst. Examples exist on YouTube if you want to judge for yourself. (Or, if you really dare, on DVD...)

If you are looking for American TV sitcom Love Thy Neighbor, this is probably the wrong page.

Racial abuse over the back garden fence was enhanced by tropes such as these:

  • Angry White Man: Eddie Booth. Middle-aged, underachiever, stuck in a dead-end job, portrayed as ordinarily intelligent except for his racism.
  • Cranky Neighbour: Eddie Booth's unhappiness at getting black neighbours. Bill is reduced to this by his dealings with Eddie. Mr Baxter, the tough no-nonsense neighbour on the other side of Eddie, is also cranky and has no patience in dealing with him.
  • Dehumanizing Insult: most of Eddie Booth's vocabulary pertaining to his West Indian neighbours. Bill Reynolds' exasperated comebacks like "Honky!" and "Snowflake!" sound nowhere near as bad and are born out of exasperation rather than malice or ignorance.
  • Expository Theme Tune: the theme song is a jolly, glutinously saccharine and somewhat corny ballad about how nice a world it would be if we could unreservedly love our neighbours as ourselves. And then we get Eddie and Bill.
  • Lazy Husband: Definitely Eddie. Although Bill has his moments.
  • Mighty Whitey: Eddie's opinion of himself, which is never borne out in reality.
  • N-Word Privileges: Bill is keen to get it across that he has this right. Eddie does not. note 
  • Oop North: Eddie is from Manchester but living in London. His wife Joan has a London accent. A surprisingly large number of people in Twickenham have northern accents, however.
  • Parenting the Husband: Joan Booth especially, but she and Barbie bond in realising their husbands are like two alpha males scrapping in the school playground, and call them to heel. Frequently.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: often invoked by fans of the show who fail to grasp the essential point that in this case, the "politically correct" Moral Guardians might just have a point.
  • Race Fetish: Eddie is frequently pulled up short by the sight of Barbie Reynolds in hotpants, miniskirts or summer bikinis.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Barbie Reynolds gives as good as she gets.
  • Scary Black Man: Bill is generally affable and easygoing, but when Eddie pushes him too far and hits his Berserk Button...
  • Where Da White Women At?: Bill (in reality happily married to Barbie) plays up to this stereotype and takes it Up to Eleven just to spook Eddie.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: over the course of the seven series, the unspoken realisation sets in that Bill and Eddie might well class as this. Although both would die rather than admit it, and they keep the vitriol going out of habit and principle. It verges on White Dude, Black Dude at times.
  • Volleying Insults: just about any interaction between Eddie and Bill. Even when they're nominally working together against an outside threat.

Love thy neighbour,
And you will find your labour
A great deal easier, Life'll be breezier,
If.... you love thy neighbour!