Sunday, 15 July 2012

438: Spike Milligan - The Melting Pot

The Melting Pot, 1975
Written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand

A brief gay guardsman gag from Spike Milligan’s infamous cancelled 1975 sitcom “The Melting Pot”. The programme followed the hijinks of two illegal Pakistani immigrants in England, played by Spike Milligan and John Bird in brown-face. At that time, almost no Indian actors appeared on British television and such characters were usually played by English actors in make-up. However the point of the programme was in taking almost every conceivable racial and sexual stereotype and then exaggerating them to absurd and surreal proportions. So you get Scottish Jews, Chinese cockneys and African with Yorkshire accents. Many of the characters are also racist and bigoted, which given their various nationalities only makes their prejudices seem more ridiculous. However, the show’s premise and its implementation meant that it was always going to cross certain borders of taste even if it was lucky enough not to be perceived as racist. The entire series was recorded but after airing only the first episode, the BBC withdrew the whole programme. The series is too little known to join the roster of notorious / embarrassing British racial comedies of the time such as “Curry and Chips”, “Love Thy Neighbour”, “Mind Your language” and “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum”. Milligan published “The Melting Pot” script as a book in 1983, and large chunks of material were recycled in Milligan’s 1987 novel “The Looney”.

This is a brief gag from a longer scene set in a laundry in the second episode, which would have aired in June 1975. A brief skit which is as in-yer-face and confrontational as the rest of the show. No delicacy or subtlety, which is the is the point. The butchness of the guardsman played off against the 1970s poof–cum-rentboy attire of his boyfriend. Aggressively blatant without apologies


A very smart guardsman enters holding hands with a delightful gay boy. The gay boy wears flared red corduroys, sleeveless body vest, a pink ostrich feather-boa. They are holding hands and carrying a laundry bags. The gay wears an afro wig which he removes and puts in the washing machine. He sits back with the guardsman to the amazement of other Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

Guardsman: Wot you starin’ at? It’s legal now, isn’t it?

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