Season Two
Cliffhanger

Tx: 22/11/73: 2030-2100.

VTR: 9/9/73.

Ratings: 15.9 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Vernon Dobtcheff (Henry), Hazel Bainbridge (Miss Partridge), Elissa Derwent (Joan), Peter Leabourne (Rugby Player), action by HAVOC, Ned Hood (Old Man in Library), Stenson Falke, Nancy Adams, Barbara Bernel, John Tatham, Zelda Tatham, Jim Delany (in Library), Eddie Noades, Joan Noades (Picnickers on cliff edge), Swanage & Wareham RFC.

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer) [from an idea by Howard Dell], James Balfour (Film Camera), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Steve Samson (Film Editor), Lisa Benjamin (Costumes), Jan Harrison (Makeup), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), Ken Starkey (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

Frank is looking after his neighbour's chickens and visits the public library to find a book on the subject. He has lost his ticket but believes he has spotted it in the tray of tickets on the counter. The result is 200 tickets all over the library floor.

Hastily, Frank returns home to feed the chickens. Trying to force the fowl into the daylight, Frank knocks down the chicken house surrounding him. Though he hastily rebuilds it in a ramshackle fashion, one of the chickens later decides to shift position slightly and it collapses again.

Using his newly acquired knowledge of poultry, Frank attempts to bluff his way through a job interview with a local farm-supply firm. Amazingly he gets the job and is given the use of a car.

That weekend, Frank takes Betty on a picnic atop some cliffs on the coast. As they start to drive back home, the car jolts to a halt and the pair peer out to discover the car is hanging precariously over the edge of the cliff. They both manage to climb out of the car but Frank decides to climb over the top of the car in order to ditch some heavy fertiliser that he has in the boot. This results in him slipping off the car and he is left hanging onto the bumper with the sea many feet below him. Betty runs off to phone for assistance but, being a weekend, nobody will help. Luckily a coach of rugby players stops and hauls the car away from the cliff and Frank to safety. The Spencers return home in the car... but with it strapped to the roof of the coach.

A great episode with exactly the right mixture of dialogue and action. Frank's character is slightly more headstrong in this series which results in two very funny dialogue scenes in this episode. In the first, Frank tries to pretend he has knowledge of chicken breeding to get a job ("A good cockerel always faces a north wind... legs apart") and, later, he tells a confused Betty that he would "like to start breeding" (she is talking about babies; him, chickens).

The much-loved car-hanging-over-the-cliff sequence (filmed near Swanage) is well executed, though the climactic gag of the car being strapped to the top of the coach – with Frank giving hand signals out of the window – seems very forced.

Look out for a continuity error: the librarian knows Frank wants a book on chickens without him even asking for it – it looks like some material has been edited at this point.

This episode is also known as Frank Goes over the Edge.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank is interviewed for a job with a farm-supplies company.

sound clip Frank and Betty go on a picnic.

The RAF Reunion

Tx: 29/11/73: 2030-2100.

VTR: 20/9/73.

Ratings: 15.9 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Stuart Fell, Marc Boyle, Allan Chuntz (Three GIs), David Rowley (Pianist), Desmond Llewelyn (Air Commodore Drew), Norman Shelley (Group Captain Firth), John Pollendine (Harris), Roger Dene (Roberts), Leonard Gregory (Horace), Richard Eden, Mark Allington, Michael Reeves, Chris Sullivan (Airmen in Billet), David Quilter (Pilot Officer Baker), Blain Fairman (Flight Sergeant), Michael Gwynn (Wing Commander Day), Kenneth Watson (Orderly), Robert Samson (Carter), Ben Aris (Brown), Richard Blomfield (Hayward), Richard McNeff (Squadron Leader), Fulton Mackay (Fowler), action by HAVOC, Nick Thompson Hill (Barman), David Bache, Patrick Wright, Richard Sheekey, Joe Santo, Frederick Woolf, Arthur Parry (at the Reunion).

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour (Film Camera), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Steve Samson (Film Editor), Lisa Benjamin (Costumes), Jan Harrison (Makeup), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), Bryan Ellis (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

Frank is getting overexcited because of his forthcoming RAF reunion evening. During a restless night, he dreams that he is a World War II pilot, heroically rescuing Betty from the rough antics of some American soldiers. As he wrestles with them, he wakes to find himself fighting with the sofa.

As in previous years, when he arrives at the reunion he fails to introduce himself to the Air Commodore, which leads the Commodore to wonder what exactly Frank got up to in his days in the RAF. As it happens, even Frank's first night in his billet started badly, with him caught changing his trousers in the middle of an inspection. Trying to hide, he got stuck in a locker which ended up plummeting down a flight of stairs.

After explaining to a recruitment officer that he joined the air force mainly because he liked the uniform ("a nice blue"), Frank was sent for an air-crew medical. During this, he managed to think the hearing test was some sort of whispering game, and fainted when he was administered some simple eye drops.

Frank also succeeded in breaking the gymnasium equipment when he was being tested on his team-leadership skills. Later, when asked to perform a simple fit-the-shapes-in-the-correct-holes test, Frank successfully used all the pieces of wood... but jammed them in all the wrong holes!

Bells sound and Frank wakes to find himself in bed, having returned home from the reunion in a drunken state causing him to put on one of Betty's nightdresses by mistake!

The majority of this story is a too episodic to allow it to build up to many big laughs, but the extended sequence with Frank struggling with some simple intelligence tests is very amusing, trying the patience of his instructor (played by Fulton Mackay, better known as the chief warder from Porridge) to the utmost. Another famous face here is Desmond Llewelyn, who played Q in the James Bond films.

Audio clips:

sound clip A flashback to Frank's intelligence test with the RAF.

sound clip More from the intelligence test...

The Public Relations Course

Tx: 6/12/73: 2030-2100.

VTR: 28/8/73.

Ratings: 17.7 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Michele Dotrice (Betty), James Cossins (Watson), Zulema Dene (Miss Gibbons), Mark Griffith (Lang), Robin Halstead (Roberts), Christopher Biggins, Jill Damas (Students), Ralph Watson, Kevin Moran (Workmen at manhole), David Kitchen, Kevin Savage, Kelly Varney, Eddie Sommer, Stephanie Marrian, Lee Patrick, Giles Melville (Students), Rosina Stewart (Cashier), Patricia Gordeno, Irene Peters (Two assistants in cafeteria), Susie the Dog.

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour (Film Camera), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Steve Samson (Film Editor), Lisa Benjamin (Costumes), Jan Harrison (Makeup), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bryan Ellis (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

After being sacked from his job with the water board for getting stuck down a sewer, Frank attends a residential course in public relations. On his first evening, Frank joins the other students in an automated canteen which dispenses food from a machine. Frank gets an unwanted plate of baked beans by mistake and attempts to stuff it back inside the machine. This causes the machine to malfunction and cover everybody in food.

Later, in the dormitory, Frank bursts his hot-water bottle and accidentally manages to squirt the contents over a co-attendee on the course. The angry student retaliates by emptying the rest of the water over Frank's bed. However, he has got the wrong bed and a free-for-all fight ensues.

The following morning, the students are nursing their wounds as the first session begins. Frank is selected to take a part in a role-play exercise. Getting carried away in the role, the lesson descends into a fiasco when he starts throwing random insulting phrases at the course instructor ("hypocritical charlatan... reprobate... educational hoodwinker... grovelling, servile, sycophantic scamp"). Convinced the instructor is a quack, the other students walk out of the course. Frank is chased out of the grounds by the angry instructor.

A funny episode but let down by the contrived canteen sequence which depends on that tired comedy fallback: a malfunctioning machine which, in this case, unconvincingly hurls food in people's faces. It would be better if the machine was something we could relate to, but this plate-dispensing device is totally illogical. Fortunately, the rest of the episode is better and it's amusing to hear Frank develop his own catchphrase (albeit one pinched from psychologist Ιmile Couι – "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better") which he repeats after every calamity he causes.

With this story, Christopher Biggins makes the first of two appearances in the show (the other being in Learning to Fly) and was one of the celebrities interviewed as part of the Selection Box (q.v.) retrospective in 1997.

A slightly longer version of the scene where Frank is chased out of the grounds of the house survives in the BBC archives. It includes a couple of extra shots of Frank and the fuming Watson, and after the line, "I'm waiting... for Betty," Frank adds by way of explanation, "She's my wife – going to drive me home."

This episode is also known simply as The PR Course.

Audio clips:

sound clip Betty runs through Frank's previous jobs.

sound clip Lesson One in Public Relations...

Frank and Marvin

Tx: 13/12/73: 2030-2100.

VTR: 2/10/73.

Ratings: 16 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Anthony Woodruff (Dr Smedley), Sydney Tafler (Lockwood), Christopher Timothy (Roy), Pamela Binns (Mrs Jones), Julia Breck (Mrs Ford), Charles Lamb (Skipper), Christopher Holmes (Boatman).

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour (Film Camera), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Steve Samson (Film Editor), Lisa Benjamin (Costumes), Jan Harrison (Makeup), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), Ken Starkey (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

Frank is working as a captain on board a riverboat. He beaches the boat on a mudflat and is sacked.

Meanwhile at home, Betty makes a secret appointment with Doctor Smedley who confirms that she is pregnant (Betty: "I can hardly believe it" / Dr Smedley: "I can hardly believe it myself"). Betty returns home and tries to break the news to Frank who thinks the "little addition" to the family is some sort of reference to getting a pet. Eventually the news sinks in to the shocked Frank and he vows to try to win the football pools to get enough money to support the child.

Frank visits Dr Smedley's maternity clinic in order to get some advice on the pregnancy and to show Dr Smedley the somewhat under-sized crib he has built (Smedley: "It's hardly big enough to take a sausage roll").

That afternoon, Frank attends an audition for an entertainer at a holiday camp. His first act is a ventriloquist's dummy called Marvin: a gorilla with a human head – Frank having reversed his car over the proper head. After managing to destroy a microphone, he also demonstrates the rest of his act: singing an appalling rendition of Early One Morning while doing a twee dance. Reaching into his pocket for the lyrics, he accidentally sets off his "Vesuvius" – a human firework display. He is extinguished by gallons of foam pumped over him from a foam-generating machine.

Frank and Marvin is the first in the Frank-has-a-baby trilogy and a very funny individual episode. There is little slapstick here but this episode contains some of the series' best dialogue scenes, particularly the sequence in which Betty announces her pregnancy to Frank. Already agitated by Frank continually failing to understand what she is trying to tell him, she grabs his pullover and says, in exasperated tones, "Don't you understand Frank? I'm going to have a baby!" Frank takes in the news slowly and then brusquely brushes her away: "Well you might have asked me first!" Classic stuff!

The only let-down in this episode is the forced climax: what exactly is this huge foaming machine doing in a ballroom at a holiday camp? Also watch out for a continuity error in the sequence with Marvin the monkey: the empty glass on the stool next to Frank suddenly becomes filled with beer and Spencer remarks that he is "a little damp". Presumably some material was cut here prior to transmission.

The Bluecoat in the holiday camp is played by a young Christopher Timothy who would later go on to play James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small for many years.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank shows Betty his ventriloquist act.

sound clip Betty breaks some news to Frank.

sound clip Frank's audition at the holiday camp.

Fathers' Clinic

Tx: 20/12/73: 2030-2100.

VTR: 15/10/73.

Ratings: 17.6 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Richard Pescud (White), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Lajla Lund (Alison), Cynthia Lund (Judy), Seymour Green (Charles), David King (Dr Powell), Brian Osborne (Jordan), Tony Hazel (Hamilton), Cynthia Powell (Lucy), Taiwo Ajai (Sally), Geoffrey Chater (Bank Manager), action by HAVOC, Claire Campbell, Helen Burnat, Josephine O'Sullivan, Bernice Spivack, Martin Clark, John Cash, Ricky Newby (Expectant mothers and fathers), Lola Morice (Manageress of 'Motherhood' shop), Shirley English (Assistant), Vanessa Dodd (Mother), Emmett Hennessey (Policeman), Ray Miller (Workman), Marc Boyle, Val Musetti (Stunt Drivers), Sue Bishop, Tony Woolley (Couple outside 'Motherhood').

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour (Film Camera), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Steve Samson (Film Editor), Lisa Benjamin (Costumes), Jan Harrison (Make-up), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), Bryan Ellis (Design), Michael Mills (Production). Chimpanzee sequences filmed at Twycross Zoo Leicestershire.

Frank is sacked from yet another job – this time working in a photographic lab, where he manages to spill acid down the legs of his supervisor.

Back at home, Frank is showing signs of stress so Betty suggests he gets himself involved with her work looking after two children whose mother is in hospital. Franks goes to meet the children but wrongly assumes them to be babies, hence his presents for them – a plastic duck and a rattle – are somewhat inappropriate.

That lunchtime, after shaking off the advances of a homosexual businessman whom he meets in the street, Frank attends his prenatal class. But after Frank accidentally makes a suggestive comment to one of the women attendees, the class breaks up in chaos.

Frank's next port of call is the bank where he attempts to get a loan. This is refused when the only reference he can offer the bank manager is from his psychiatrist, and when he attempts to put up his council house as security.

That afternoon, Frank goes to the zoo with the two children in Betty's care. Much to the kids' amusement, a chimp steals Frank's beret and Frank enters the monkey enclosure to retrieve it. Later, they all go roller-skating but Frank builds up too much speed and smashes through the rink's fire exit out into the street. After a hair-raising roller-skate ride around town, Frank crashes through a baby-ware shop, wrecking most of the shop's contents in the process.

The roller-skate ride is arguably Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em's best-remembered set piece, but suffers from a clumsy change from film to videotape near the end as Frank crashes through the shop (how exactly do you roller-skate up stairs anyway?) The sequence is also slightly marred by jumpy cuts and sudden changes of location. The other action sequence – in the chimps' cage – is also implausible: are the doors to animal cages usually left unlocked in zoos? The best dialogue sequence is when Frank attends his baby class and fails to grasp the location of a baby's soft spot (Doctor: "When you were a baby, you had a soft spot, didn't you?" / Frank: "I was very fond of treacle pudding.")

As with a few other episodes, there is evidence that material has been cut from this episode: the bank manager knows that Frank has no job and a baby on the way without being told.

This episode is also known as Frank is Introduced to Fatherhood.

Audio clips:

sound clip There is a misunderstanding at Frank's antenatal class.

sound clip Frank has trouble finding his soft spot.

sound clip More chaos in the fathers' class.

The Baby Arrives

Tx: 27/12/73: 2030-2100.

VTR: 21/10/73.

Ratings: 15.7 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Eric Francis (Hospital Porter), Alison Coleridge (Nurse Moore), Diane Holland (Receptionist), John D Collins (Dr Boyde), Richard Caldicot (Sir John Gifford), Anthony Woodruff (Dr Smedley), Cyril Luckham (Fr O'Hara), Della Flinch, Lorna Leech (Nurses), Martin Terry (Doctor), Maureen Purkiss, Gay Desser, Amanda Carlson (Patients).

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour (Film Camera), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Steve Samson (Film Editor), Lisa Benjamin (Costumes), Jan Harrison (Make up), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), Ken Starkey (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

Frank rushes into his local hospital crying, "She's having it." After being examined, it turns out Betty has nothing but cramp. It is the fifth such false alarm in a week and the doctors' patience is wearing thin. The hospital's top obstetrician, Sir John Gifford, arrives to find Frank's car in his private space. Frank attempts to remedy the situation and this results in Gifford crashing his car.

Later at home, Dr Smedley pops into the Spencer household to see how things are going but is not impressed when he finds out that Frank wishes to attend the birth. After reluctantly agreeing to this, Dr Smedley gives Frank a lift to his local church ("...of the The Immaculate Conception"). The irritated Father O'Hara is none too pleased to see Frank who has already been to confession many times that week. Frank confesses to the sin of envying his comparatively well-off neighbours and is told to do penance (Father O'Hara: "Say three Hail Marys and four Our Fathers." / Frank: "Ooh, that's a bit harsh!")

Later that night, Betty starts getting her contractions and Frank rushes her to hospital, losing the house keys and breaking a window in the process. With an excited Frank (still in his beret) looking on, the Spencer child is born – it is a girl. Overcome with emotion, Frank passes out on the delivery-room floor. Later, the Spencers leave the hospital with their baby, who now also has her own mini-beret. They find their cat has also given birth on the back seat of their car. Everything is obviously going too well to last; Frank reverses his car out of the hospital and crashes it.

The last episode in both the trilogy about the Spencers' baby, and in the second season, sees Frank finally (and incredibly) getting a baby daughter. Crawford based the whole birth sequence on his own experiences during the birth of his second daughter, Lucy, a few years previously. We see Frank reach a new level of naοvety when he can't even manage to determine the sex of his newly born child (Frank: "It's a boy! I've got a boy!" / Doctor: "It's a girl, Mr Spencer." / Frank: "Well, what's that then?" / Doctor: "That is the umbilical cord." / Frank: "Ooh I say!")

Frank is also revealed to be Catholic and we meet his priest, the irascible Father O'Hara (played by the late Cyril Luckham), for the first time. Look out also for the hospital receptionist played by Diane Holland, who would later play snooty ballroom dancer Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves in the holiday-camp sitcom Hi-De-Hi.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank waits in the hospital reception while Betty has a check-up.

sound clip Frank attends confession.

sound clip Frank is in the delivery room.

Christmas 74 - Jessica's First Christmas

Tx: 25/12/74: 1915-2005.

VTR: 16-17/11/74.

Ratings: 23.6 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Emma Ware (Jessica Spencer), Bryan Pringle (Jackson), Brian Hayes (Hudson), Cyril Luckham (Father O'Hara), Bartlett Mullins (King Herod), Alan Bowerman (First Shepherd), Ian Milton (Second Shepherd), Tony Bateman (First Wise Man), Peter Mackriel (Second Wise Man), Bruce Callender (Third Wise Man), Marjorie Hogan (Miss Murphy), action by HAVOC, Reginald Thomason (Joseph (Mr Hunter)), Ricky Laney (Innkeeper), John Cannon, Stephen Kane, David Nichol, John Watkins (Dockers), David Kitchen (Stand-in for Michael Crawford), Marcia King (Stand-in for Michele Dotrice), Alan Bowerman (Stand-in for Bryan Pringle).

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour, Pat Turley (Film Camera), Colin March, Bill Meekums (Film Sound), Bill Symon (Film Editor), Jim Acheson (Costumes), Ann Briggs (Makeup), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), John B Hobbs (Production Assistant), Bryan Ellis (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

Frank's daughter Jessica is now one year old and is having trouble sleeping at nights. The noise is waking the entire street and annoying the Spencers' new neighbour, Mr Jackson, who has to be up early for his job in a warehouse. A new employee is due to start at the warehouse the following day and Jackson is infuriated to find out that it is Frank who has been taken on to help him.

Meanwhile, Father O'Hara is organising the Christmas nativity play and is finding it difficult to make it sink in with Frank that his acting skills are not required this year due to the chaos he has caused in previous years. Eventually, as a compromise, Frank is told that he can design the scenery.

Christmas wouldn't be complete without a tree... and indeed the tree Frank brings home is nothing like complete – it is missing its top half which was torn off by a passing lorry as he was bringing it home.

Things are not going any better at Frank's new job in the warehouse where Frank has already managed to knock Jackson over a wall with the end of a plank of wood. Later, Frank spots a movement under Jackson's folded coat and, suspecting a rat, puts a lighted pipe under the coat in an attempt to smoke out the animal. This sets fire to the coat which Frank ruins further by soaking it with water. Jackson attempts revenge by emptying a flask of tea into a bag that Frank is holding but, unfortunately, the bag does not belong to Frank but to the head of the firm!

Later at the church, Frank shows his scenery to the, initially impressed, Father O'Hara. He has also made a mechanical lift for the Angel of the Lord to descend from heaven. Demonstrating this, Frank is hurled into the rafters of the church. He plummets to the stage and his scenery falls around his ears.

The next day at work, Frank offers to drive a forklift truck to cover for the absent Jackson who is busy elsewhere in the warehouse pilfering goods for his own use. The forklift runs out of control and smashes up the warehouse, before driving itself onto a lorry which promptly departs up the street. Both Spencer and Jackson are fired.

At the final dress rehearsal of the nativity play, Frank is delighted to be asked to play the Angel of the Lord due to the sickness of the original choice of actor. However, the person helping with Frank's new pulley system doesn't understand its workings properly and loads a weight onto the system that is too heavy. This causes Frank to be catapulted through the roof of the church. A helicopter is called to rescue him as he holds on for dear life.

There was no new series of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em in 1974, so this extended Christmas special was a welcome chance for viewers to catch up on Frank's exploits. There are basically two plots spread over the episode: Frank's new job in the warehouse, and his participation in his church's nativity play. For my part, though, it is once again the less obvious dialogue sequences that bring the biggest laughs. This episode contains the first of a run of amusing sequences where Frank would be shown alone with his daughter, trying to entertain her with, variously, games of I spy, his "impressonations" (which include Prime Minister Harold Wilson – to which the baby emits an intentionally ridiculous electronic burp) or, in later episodes, by singing invented nursery rhymes.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank says goodnight to Jessica.

Christmas 75 - Learning to Drive

Tx: 25/12/75: 1855-1940.

Ratings: 25.6 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer), Hazel Bainbridge (Mrs Perkins), George Sewell (Wheeler), Alrich Riley, Chris Leonard (Rude Boys), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Campbell Singer (Finney), David Jacobs (TV Interviewer), Michael Angrave (Cameraman), Wendy Gilmore (Linda), Richard Latham (Neville), David Woodcock (Clapper Boy), Peter Jeffrey (Hayes), action by Marc Boyle, Marc Boyle (Father Christmas stunt artist), Andrew Porter, David Weare, Joseph Clark, Emma Tandy, Mark Herman, Mark Farmer, Rosemary Leonard (Children at toy fair), Eileen Winterton, Juliet St David, Vivienne Clifford, Ken Tracey, Helen Bernat, Gill Goldstein, Janet Seager, Marianne Leigh, Jules Walter (Parents at toy fair), Tony Christopher (Stand-in for Michael Crawford), Michael Angrave (Stand-in for George Sewell), Wendy Gifford (Stand-in for Hazel Bainbridge).

Crew: Raymond Allen (Writer), James Balfour (Film Camera), John Jarvis (Film Editor), Nicholas Rocker (Costumes), Judy Cain (Makeup), Derek Slee (Lighting), John Lloyd (Sound), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects), John B Hobbs (Production Assistant), Rochelle Selwyn (Design), Michael Mills (Production).

Frank's current job is helping out as a pixie in Santa's grotto at a local department store, but things have not been going too well. After Father Christmas makes numerous complaints about Frank, the manageress threatens him with the sack if there are any more mistakes. The grotto includes a mechanical device which lowers Santa to the shop floor and the awaiting kids. Frank is in charge of operating this but unfortunately he manages to ruin the mechanism and Santa plummets to the ground. Frank is sacked.

Later, Frank is taking his last driving lesson before his test. Remarking that the road seems very wide, Frank and his instructor find themselves on an airport runway! Later in the lesson, Frank gets out of the car for a second but accidentally leaves the handbrake off and the vehicle starts rolling down the street, out of control. Frank gives chase and manages to climb on top of the speeding car which finally stops when it runs straight into the open back of a horsebox.

Back at home, Frank is excited to have been chosen to feature in a TV programme about DIY. David Jacobs arrives from the BBC together with a cameraman (Frank: "He's got a funny walk, hasn't he?" / Jacobs: "He's actually got quite a lot of heavy equipment.") Frank introduces Jacobs to his DIY masterpieces: a wonky bookshelf, a standard lamp made from a length of plastic gutter pipe, and a sofa which goes "boing" every time somebody sits on it. An attempt at filming a simple sequence – with Frank coming home and greeting Betty after a day's work – results in his lamp blowing up, his bookshelf collapsing and his sofa sprouting rogue springs.

The unfortunate experience forgotten, Frank is now taking his 10th driving test. When Frank stops in the middle of a river bridge as it is in the process of opening, this is the last straw for the examiner and he asks to be driven straight back to the test centre. Frank thinks he knows a short cut, but unfortunately his route takes the speeding car off the end of a quayside into the sea. The examiner swims back to the shore with Frank inquiring from the sinking car, "Have I passed?"

This extended Christmas episode doesn't start too well as it veers dangerously into the old Perry/Lloyd/Croft sitcom standby of getting a cheap laugh by having the carefully built characters prostitute themselves by coming on in "funny" costumes (cf. Are You Being Served?, Hi-De-Hi et al.) This sequence – already rather stagey – isn't helped by being carelessly shot, with the top of the studio's cyclorama coming into view on several occasions (just how high is this shop's ceiling anyway?)

Fortunately, after we are clear of the department store, things begin to warm up. Frank is amusingly trying to advertise his skills on a postcard in a shop window (Frank: "I am willing to offer my services." / Betty: "No!" / Frank: "No – one of them funny ones might read that.") before finding out he is to appear on TV which results in him opening an exploding bottle of home-made wine to celebrate.

One strange, presumably unnoticed goof left in the finished episode occurs when Frank is running through the start-up procedure for the car with his instructor – put it in gear and then depress the clutch? Has Frank himself been repairing this vehicle?

The making of the action sequences concerning Frank's erratic driving was covered in the documentary To Be Perfectly Frank (q.v.), belatedly screened in April 1977. Preserved therein is an amusing gaff which occurred during the filming of one of these sequences with Frank and his instructor driving along a country lane. After Crawford has already fluffed a take of the scene by collapsing in giggles, attempts to do a second take are ruined when the car is suddenly plunged into darkness as it passes under a bridge (Crawford: "The bloody sun's gone in!")

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank writes out a card for the paper shop.

sound clip The blooper from Frank's driving lesson (see above).