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Til Death Us Do Part

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Til Death Us Do Part was a BBC television sitcom series written by Johnny Speight[?] that ran from 1964 until 1974. The program starred Warren Mitchell as the racist East End misogynist (and Rudyard Kipling lookalike), Alf Garnett. Also appearing in the series were Dandy Nichols as Alf's long-suffering wife, Else, Una Stubbs as his daughter and Anthony Booth[?] as his layabout son-in-law, whose socialist leanings were the cue for many of Alf's more offensive outbursts. The series was remade in the U.S. as All in the Family and in Germany (1973 - 1976) as Ein Herz und eine Seele[?] ("One Heart and One Soul").

It was a series which addressed racial and political issues at a particularly difficult time in British society. Some viewers consider the series an uncomfortable and disturbing series to watch because of the ambivalence of its political position. Alf was the archetypal working-class Tory. The two subjects that excited him most were football and politics. He used language that was not considered acceptable for broadcasting on television in the 1960s. He normally referred to his son-in-law as a "randy Scouse git" ("Randy Scouse Git" was used as a song title by The Monkees - who didn't know what it meant) and to his wife as a "silly moo" (a substitute for "silly cow" which was vetoed by the BBC's censors). The show was one of several held up by Mary Whitehouse as an example of the BBC's immorality.

Toward the end of the series Dandy Nichols fell ill and was unable to attend the live-audience recordings. The problem was solved by having her pre-record her lines which were then skilfully edited into the show. Eventually even this was too much of a strain, and so in a later episode Else was seen leaving for Australia, much to Alf's dismay.

In the early 1980s the ITV company Central picked up the series and made about 6 episodes under the title Till Death. Although the cast and writer remained the same the series never took off.

In the late 1980s Alf Garnett returned to the BBC for In Sickness and in Health. This took Alf and Else (who was now in a wheelchair) onwards into old age, and some of Alf's more extreme opinions were found to have mellowed. Una Stubbs made some guest appearances but Anthony Booth apparently wasn't interested in reprising his role. After the first series Dandy Nichols died, and so subsequent episodes showed Alf having to deal with the greatest loss of his life - Else's pension book.

Warren Mitchell has also appeared solo on stage and TV as Alf Garnett, dispensing his usual homespun philosophy and singing old music hall songs.



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