Monday, 4 August 2008
159: Gay Ad - Fairy Puff
from “The Goodies”, BBC 2, 8 November 1970
(transcript from http://www.goodiesruleok.com/newsletter.php?issue=10)
A girl (Maria O’Brien) is standing at a washing machine.
GIRL: Oh, wash days! Look at this pile of washing. I don't know what I'm going to do!
Tim Brooke-Taylor enters, wearing a shiny white suit and holding a box of Fairy Puff washing powder.
TIM: (with brash American accent) Hi there, kitten! I'm the Fairy Puff man. (Sings) Gets right to the dirt of the wash! That's me! Hey kitten, that dress you're wearing is grey, grey, grey, grey, grey!
GIRL: I know, but what can I do?
TIM: Here, kitten. Take that dress off and put it in this washing machine with Fairy Puff. (Sings) Gets right to the dirt of the wash!
The girl removes the dress and hands it to Tim.
TIM: Uh-uh, kitten, that underslip you're wearing is grey, grey, grey, grey, grey! Best take it off and we'll put it in as well.
The girl removes her slip and gives it to Tim.
TIM: (sings) Gets right to the dirt of the wash!
TIM: Oh-oh, kitten, those undies you're wearing are grey, grey, grey, grey, grey!
GIRL: I know, take them off and put them in the machine.
We see a head and shoulders shot of the girl as she removes her undies and gives them to Tim, who is leering at her.
GIRL: Now what are you going to do, hmmm?
TIM's leering changes to a look of uncertainty.
TIM (girly voice): I'm going to wash these clothes. I'm the Fairy Puff Man! (Sings): Gets right to the dirt of the wash! I'm a little Fairy Puff man, puff puff!
A bit of a damp squib this one. The overly macho pitchman suddenly becomes camp and effeminate when confronted by real female sexuality. While 70s humour is full of unclothed women, the trick is always to find some comic means of conceptual disavowal, so that it’s not merely smut. The sketch has been building to further and further female disrobing and nudity, maybe even the possibility of actual sex, but then at the very moment of climax the male recuses himself in what is a relatively new and shocking mode.
“Fairy Puff” is not an inappropriate name for an old-fashioned detergent, and it’s presented in such a way that the viewer shouldn’t automatically think “Fairy” + “Puff” = homosexual, but still accept the sketches rather suddenly and weedily presented conclusion.
This is a televised version of a sketch which first appeared on the radio series “I’m Sorry I Read That Again” (22 February 1970). The writers thought well enough of it that they included it in the premiere episode of their new TV series.