Series: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
Uh-oh, we're in trouble/Something's come along and it's burst our bubble.Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
was a British Sitcom
that originally aired on the BBC from 1973 to 1978, starring Michael Crawford as the hapless Frank Spencer. It was written by Raymond Allen, based on his own experiences as a single man
. However, upon seeing the first draft for the script, Michael Crawford insisted that Frank have a wife. Michele Dotrice was then cast as the long-suffering Betty.
The series saw the well-meaning but disaster-prone
Frank Spencer get himself into sticky situations, often causing someone else to break down
or causing an unintentional path of destruction
. Usually the episodes contained a character who is familiar with Spencer warning another character about working with him, but Frank always proves to be more of a burden than initially feared.
The series also focussed on Frank's role as a family man. Henceforth, it featured a Story Arc
where Betty becomes pregnant and eventually gives birth to a girl, Jessica.
Episodes generally include stunt work performed by Crawford himself, often highly physical, that today would be unusual in an inexpensive half-hour Sitcom
. With such a denouement in mind, typical plot lines involve picnics on high cliffs, driving lessons by the sea, household repairs, or a wide variety of new jobs such as motorcycle courier or high-rise window cleaner.
It was voted #22 in Britain's Best Sitcom
This series provides examples of:
- AcCENT Upon The Wrong SylLABle: Frank uses "Ha-RASS-ed" instead of the traditionally British "HA-rassed". The effect of the joke has somewhat weakened in recent years due to the growing usage of the American pronunciation.
- Accidental Pun: In "The Job Interview":
"I do try Betty... no-one can be more trying than me..."
- Adorkable: Frank is this — his persistent optimism and unwillingness to cause any harm to others exemplify this trope.
- Badass Longcoat: Frank's trademark trenchcoat.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Despite popular opinion, Frank never said his popular Catch Phrase, "Ooh, Betty!" anywhere in the show.
- Blooper / Corpsing: One noticeable example occurs in "Wendy House" where Richard Wilson plays an insurance assessor who calls on Frank and Betty. All three sit on a sofa to discuss the situation and Wilson slowly sinks down into it so that he barely manages to come up to Crawford's shoulders. Michele Dotrice cannot stifle her laughter and this, in turn, causes both Crawford and Wilson to corpse. After a few seconds all three manage to pick up the script again and the scene is retained in the finished episode.
- British Brevity: The entire series is composed of three seasons (Season 1 had seven episodes, the other two had six) and three Christmas specials - a grand total of 22 episodes.
- The Cameo: Elisabeth Sladen appears as Judy the fruit shop owner at the beginning of "The Hospital Visit".
- Captain Obvious: "Does he know what time it is?! The only reason I'm still awake is because I'm not asleep."
- The Cast Show Off: Michael Crawford performed all his own stunts in the show, also demonstrating his singing chops in "Frank and Marvin".
- Character Development: Frank receives some in Season 3, becoming more self-assured and sophisticated as well as slowly growing into his role as a husband and father. His voice even becomes a little deeper.
- Christmas Episode: "Jessica's First Christmas", "Learning to Drive" and "Learning to Fly" — although "Learning to Fly" has no Christmas theme and is deemed to be a Christmas special simply because it aired during the Christmas period.
- Crash Course Landing: Frank is forced to make one after his instructor passes out mid-flight in "Learning to Fly".
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: A psychiatrist tries to goes to convince Frank that he's not a failure. By the end of the episode, the psychiatrist is a nervous wreck, and Frank is delighted to have been proved right - he is a failure.
- Disaster Dominoes: Every. Single. Time.
- In "George's House" from Series 1, Frank and Betty are staying with Betty's brother George, whose house is completely fitted with gadgets that work using motion sensors. While trying to use the toilet without triggering the sensor that opens the door, Frank accidentally sets off the automatic flush, which gets stuck in the "on" position. His attempts to find the cistern cause the toilet to become blocked, until water pours into the bathroom and ultimately into the house's main control room. The circuits short out and the gadgets go haywire, just as George's boss is trying to persuade an American client to sign a contract to build other houses like George's. As the episode ends, the American client has driven off in a rage, George's wife is stuck in a downstairs window, smoke is pouring out of one upstairs window, and a jet of water is shooting out of another upstairs window, while Frank and Betty wonder if anyone noticed anything.
- Perhaps the crowning example is the Series 1 episode "Have a Break, Take a Husband"; Frank and Betty go to a seaside B&B for a second honeymoon, but their room has twin beds rather than a double bed, and Frank, having already inadvertently led the proprietor to suspect that he and Betty are not really married, decides to push the beds together rather than asking for a different room. However, the bed snags on the cheap linoleum and tears a hole in it, which Frank tries to cover up. By the end of the episode, through a combination of his own ineptitude and the room's shoddy construction, he has torn a floor mat in half, broken several drawers apart, broken the door off the wardrobe, smashed a hole through the floor in the middle of the room, convinced a nervous fellow guest that his dead grandfather is trying to contact him, put two more holes in the floor under the bed, ripped the washbasin from the wall, and demolished the hotel bar as he and Betty make a midnight getaway.
- Drives Like Crazy: In "Learning To Drive", when Frank takes his Driving Test (for the tenth time) but ends up driving the car off a pier into the sea.
- Also, the famous motorbike sequence in "King of the Road".
- Episode on a Plane: "Learning to Fly".
- Fatal Method Acting: Michael Crawford and stuntman Derek Ware made the newspapers when they were both nearly strangled during the window-cleaning segment of "The Employment Exchange". They were left 300 feet up the side of a London skyscraper after the cradle they were dangling from refused to budge. Surprisingly, the cameraman continued to film the entire ordeal.
- Foil: Betty is this to Frank's extreme bouts of clumsiness.
- Irish Priest: The long-suffering Father O'Hara. In one episode Frank even asks him about joining the priesthood.
- The Jinx: Frank Spencer embodies this trope.
- The Klutz: Frank Spencer is this trope Up to Eleven.
- Literal Cliffhanger: This is the subject of the episode "Cliffhanger", where Frank accidentally reverses the company car of his latest job halfway over the edge of a cliff while on a picnic with Betty.
- Loser Son of Loser Mum: Frank's reputation is made even worse by the fact his mother was as much of a Walking Disaster Area as he is.
- Malaproper: "I was ejaculated from my home" being the most famous example.
- Man Child: Frank's behaviour, way of thinking and emotional vulnerability makes him one of these.
- Men Can't Keep House: Invoked in "The Job Interview" and in the flashbacks of "The Psychiatrist".
- Mooning: An unintentional example. At the very end of "Scottish Dancing", Frank's kilt suddenly falls down to reveal he is not wearing any underwear. Michael Crawford and the director of the episode initially rehearsed the scene with Crawford wearing Union Jack underwear to elicit the right reaction from the rest of the cast during filming.
- Money, Dear Boy: Michael Crawford expressed his fears at becoming typecast into Frank Spencer-like roles before being offered ten thousand pounds (which was a lot of money at the time) to star in Season 3.
- Moral Guardians: Mary Whitehouse was an outspoken critic of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, at one point calling Frank Spencer a "purveyor of pornography"... just because he alluded to some downstairs trouble in one episode.
- Frank does indeed (unknowingly) become a literal purveyor of pornography during his job as a motorbike carrier.
- Frank also quietly assumes this role in "Men as Women" when he discovers Dr Mender, in full drag, in his house.
- Nice Hat: Frank's signature beret.
- Not Good with People: Frank is a Type 1.
- Oh Crap: You can tell Frank knows he's in trouble when he places his index finger next to his mouth and gives a quavering "Ooh!"
- Panicky Expectant Father: Frank is this just before Jessica is born.
- Series Continuity Error: The Season 3 episode "Men as Women" marks the first appearance of Dr Mender as the Spencers' GP. However, this marks a continuity error as Dr Mender claims to have been Frank's GP for years and to still have Frank's chimney brush up his chimney when this in fact all happened to Dr Smedley.
- Special Effect Failure / Stylistic Suck: An in-universe example — Frank's performance in "Frank and Marvin", with his terrible ventriloquism act, bad jokes and his human "Vesuvius" effect which he sets off by accident.
- Smart House: In "George's House".
- Sticky Situation: The main plot in "Wendy House".
- Studio Audience
- Technically a Smile: Frank's attempt at practising a polite smile in "The Job Interview" manages to knock an employee into the pipes display.
- Title Theme Tune / Genius Bonus: The theme tune is the show's title in Morse Code.
- Trash the Set: Practically in every episode, but this trope is the focal point of the episode "Have a Break, Take a Husband", where the hotel room starts with torn linoleum and ends up with several holes in the floor, most of the furniture destroyed, and finally the sink ripped off the wall.
- Video Inside, Film Outside
- Vindicated by Reruns: By the very end of The Seventies, the show's often slapstick humour and the appeal of Frank Spencer were starting to wear thin. However, when it was released on home video in The Nineties and reran on television stations shortly after, it experienced a Revival of sorts. The fact that Michael Crawford had since gone on to appear in Broadway musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera and Barnum no doubt helped the cause.
- Walking Disaster Area: Frank Spencer, again. Made even more apparent by the fact that Frank neither means any harm nor does he want to cause it.
- What Happened to the Mouse? / Retcon / Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Season 3 seems to have erased all mention and memory of Dr Smedley.
- Whole Episode Flashback: "The RAF Reunion", "The Psychiatrist", "The Employment Exchange".
- Wholesome Crossdresser: In "Men as Women", Frank's shock at his doctor dressed in drag subsides when he realises that both the doctor and his colleague were only playing dames in a local Cinderella pantomime. Upon hearing that one of the Ugly Sisters is ill, Frank even offers to fill in at the end of the episode.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: This is remarked upon by Betty's mother in "The Job Interview".
"He never goes to work, he goes for interviews."
- You Look Familiar: Some of the supporting cast from the 1973 series reappear in different roles in 1978.