Season Three
Moving House

Tx: 11/11/78: 2030-2105.

Ratings: 17 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Glynn Edwards (Mr Lewis), Glyn Houston (Mr Wright), Milton Johns (Mr Denham), Jean Boht (Mrs Lewis), Royston Tickner (Jack), Michael Redfern (Bill), Babar Bhatti (Mr Singh), Andrew Lane (TV Engineer), Jessica Forte (Jessica), Steve Ismay (Telephone Engineer).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Colin Mapson (Visual Effects Designer), Lisa Benjamin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Makeup), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), Rick Gauld (Camera Operator), Mike Robotham (Film Editor), John Sillitto (Video Tape Editor), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow, Peter R Lovell (Production Assistants), Richard Morris (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

It is the day of the Spencers moving house – their old house has been condemned, made unsafe by Frank's DIY alterations. Frank attempts to direct the increasing number of workmen's vans arriving outside but this only results in broken bumpers and windscreens.

Back inside, the man from the council has arrived and views the situation grimly ("When you moved in, this house had wall-to-wall carpeting; now it doesn't even have wall-to-wall floors.") and threatens Frank with trouble if he does the same to his new house (in the aptly named Sodbury Terrace).

Despite this rocky start to the day, the Spencers are soon on the road. Betty is driving ahead and Frank is in the furniture van looking after his plants. At some roadworks, the van pulls away from the traffic lights too quickly and this ejects the furniture onto the road and Frank into a cauldron of hot tar.

Having been painfully de-tarred at his local hospital, Frank returns home, but is at his wits' end when he finds that the new house has neither a phone nor running water ("Look at what they've done to me – I'm on the brink, I'm a man incest.") He marches off to his local exchange to try, and fail, to get an emergency phone connected, considering his needs to be in the same category as vets and doctors.

Returning home, Frank turns the water on at the main, soaking his next-door neighbour, Mr Lewis, who turned off the water earlier to do some repairs. After singing Jessica to sleep with a ridiculous song about an elephant-sized cat, Frank's worries are added to when he finds that he has no hot water – he goes up into his shared loft to investigate. Mr Lewis follows him up to see what the fuss is about. An argument ensues and both men end up falling through the ceiling into the Lewis' bedroom below. Frank attempts to shove a loose water pipe back up into the roof and this leads to the water tank rupturing and emptying its contents over him and Mr Lewis.

Frank Spencer finally returned to the small screen in 1978 (almost three years since the last episode, and five since the last complete season) with this very funny episode. It contains what is probably the best-remembered sequence of the entire Some Mothers canon, where the Spencers' old house falls down brick by brick seconds after they have departed in the removal van. For this perfectly timed and edited scene, the BBC found a row of terraced houses which was due to be demolished anyway and rigged one to collapse in the desired manner, helped by two hidden bulldozers. This leads to a continuity error as the appearance of this house is thus at odds with what was seen in earlier episodes, despite the scene where Frank and Betty reflect on their first married night in the same building (one wonders why Raymond Allen didn't simply explain that they had moved house since we last saw them).

The Spencer's daughter Jessica is older too, though her apparent age is not consistent with her having been born in late 1973 as seen in the second season (it is mentioned in Learning to Fly that she is now "barely two"). So as not to put too much strain on the young actress playing Jessica, all her sequences in this season were taped in her real house rather than in a television studio.

The scene where Spencer falls, upside down, through the ceiling caused Crawford to ad-lib a "good evening" to his neighbour's wife, trying to get some sleep below – "And when I fell right through on to the bed, clutching a cat, I nearly ad libbed again. I wanted to say something about cats always landing on their feet. But I realised, just in time, that this would bring dozens of complaints. I don't know why moralising letter writers are so extreme, especially the religious ones, who seem to have no fun in them."

This episode contains a whole host of familiar faces in the supporting roles, most notably Glynn Edwards who would go on to play Dave the barman in Minder for many years, and Jean Boht, who would later become a household name as Nellie Boswell in Bread.

A rarely shown overrun on the end of the original master tape of this episode shows a now out-of-character Michael Crawford re-entering the bedroom set (after he has originally exited) and laughing about how wet he is while Jean Boht gives him a round of applause.

Purchasers of Some Mothers on DVD should note that the release of this episode is compromised by missing material on both the UK and US editions. Some two minutes of footage has been removed from the end of the scene where Frank is in the barrel of tar. The reasons for this are not known for certain, but it seems likely this is some misguided attempt by the BBC to removal material they deem racially sensitive. The script for the missing portion, and an audio clip of it, can be found by clicking here. The material is often left intact on actual TV reshowings, and also seems to be present on certain overseas DVDs, such as the Spanish edition from cameo.

Trivia: the barrel of tar that Frank falls into is, in fact, black food colouring and dry ice!

Audio clips:

sound clip The man from the council is not happy with Frank.

sound clip Frank eventually arrives at the Spencers' new house.

sound clip Frank applies for a telephone.

sound clip Frank sings Jessica a song.

Wendy House

Tx: 18/11/78: 2030-2105.

Ratings: 18.2 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Richard Wilson (Mr Harris), John Malcolm (Mr Wilson), Norman Chappell (Cyril), Hazel Bainbridge (Mrs Cooper), Eric Dodson (Mr Cooper), Carl Andrews (Conductor), Sheila Keith (Sister), Roger Kemp (Dr Hutchings), Peter Schofield (Sir George), Sheila Ferris (Nurse), Bunny May (Postman), Roy Sampson (Policeman), Roger Elliott (Ambulanceman), Jessica Forte (Jessica), Philip Clayton-Gore (Horace), Ridgewell Hawkes, Roy Brent (Students), Celestine Carroll, Carol Shaw (Nurses), Bryan Moorehead, Monty Morriss, Kelly Varney (Patients), Peter Roy (Man).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Colin Mapson (Visual Effects Designer), Lisa Benjamin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Makeup), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), Rick Gauld (Camera Operator), Mike Robotham (Film Editor), Graham Sisson (Video Tape Editor), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow (Production Assistant), Andrew Howe-Davies (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

Frank is returning home with a Chinese takeaway. A dog follows him and he is unable to shake it off. Betty, although initially reluctant, eventually agrees to take the dog in.

The next day, a man from the insurance company calls to assess the damage to the Spencers' furniture caused by moving house. However, he finds it difficult to differentiate the destroyed furniture from ramshackle items that Frank has made himself at his woodwork class. He eventually offers them £40 for the lot.

At his evening woodwork class, Frank has made a chair to replace a broken one. The instructor is appalled to find Frank has used superglue to stick it together. Whilst waiting for a bus, an old lady is taken ill and sits on Frank's chair to rest. Unfortunately she, Frank, and a bus conductor who offers his assistance, all become stuck fast to the still-sticky seat. Taken to the local hospital, Frank becomes tired of waiting to see a doctor ("In future I may well consider taking my infirmaries elsewhere") and all three – still stuck to the chair – set off to seek assistance and manage to wreck a hospital office in the process before eventually being freed.

Frank's other carpentry project is a playhouse for Jessica. This has become so large that the only way to get it out of the woodwork room is to lower it from the window by block and tackle. At the other end of the rope, Frank finds the house too heavy to manage and is hoisted high into the air as the house descends... and finds himself back at the hospital once more.

The episode is probably best remembered for the sequence in which the future Victor Meldrew, 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. Luckily, after a few long seconds, all three manage to pick up the script again and the scene is retained in the finished episode.

Another amusing scene – which has a "sequel" in a subsequent episode – involves a nosey postman who, through no fault of his own, gets hold of the wrong end of the stick during a garbled conversation with Frank – he manages to assume that Columbo (the Spencers' new dog) is in fact a new baby. Frank informs the postman bluntly: "He's got one or two nasty little habits – if he does it again I think I'll rub his nose in it." Confused, the postman walks away muttering: "Columbo Spencer – poor little sod!"

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank's postman calls.

sound clip The insurance assessor calls.

sound clip More with the assessor...

Scottish Dancing

Tx: 25/11/78: 2030-2105

Ratings: 16.7 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Roland Curram (Mr Quincey), Norman Jones (Mr Warner), Andrew Downie (Mr MacDougall), Harriet Reynolds (Miss Burton), Eric Mason (Mr Marsh), Jean Boht (Mrs Lewis), Renu Setna (Man at Railway Station), Jessica Forte (Jessica), Judy Gridley, Lola Morice, Jane White, Christopher Malloy, Johnny Shack, Mark White (Dancers).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Joanne Robinson (Choreographer), Jack Emblow (Music), Lisa Benjamin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Make-up), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), Mike Robotham (Film Editor), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow (Production Assistant), Matt Boney (Video Tape Editor), Richard Morris (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

Frank, Betty and a lodger who lives next door, Mr Quincey, all belong to the local Scottish dancing group. However, the Spencers can each only attend on a rotary basis as one of them has to stay at home to look after Jessica. It is Frank's turn to babysit this week and he is having trouble getting Jessica to eat her dinner and ends up eating most of it himself.

Betty and Quincey arrive back from the class and Betty invites Quincey in for a drink. Quincey is organising a display of Scottish dancing in honour of a visit from the local Liberal parliamentary candidate, Mr MacDougall. Betty's participation in the display is welcome, but Frank is firmly told that his skills are not required.

The day of the visit arrives and Frank and a welcoming party have turned out at the local railway station. MacDougall arrives but accidentally leaves his briefcase on the train and so Frank volunteers to retrieve it. Some time later, Frank has not reappeared, so Quincey also boards the train to find Frank. At the same time, having found the case, Frank leaves the train and tells the conductor that he need not hold the train any longer, so it departs with Quincey still on board. Jumping from the train as it picks up speed, Quincey breaks both his legs.

With Quincey now unable to take part in the Scottish dancing that evening, Frank is called in as a last-resort replacement. Strangely enough, the dancing itself goes without a hitch. However, as the dancers leave the floor, Frank's kilt falls down, revealing that he has been wearing it in the traditional Scottish fashion – with no underwear – and everything erupts into chaos.

The pay-off with this well-remembered episode is different from what the audience expects. We are waiting for Frank to hopelessly mess up his dancing, but that isn't what happens and we are instead "treated" to one of the very few views of a bare male posterior that made it onto family TV in the 1970s! The rehearsal for this scene differed slightly from the finished take – Crawford: "So I'm doing this Scottish dance and at the end the kilt falls to the ground and I'm revealed in the rehearsal in these shorts. In the actual take the shorts were gone, and only the director and myself knew, so that we would get the right reaction from the extras playing the scene."

Earlier, during the feeding scene, there is a nice bit of ad-libbing: "You'll get indigestion," says Crawford as Jessica's toy panda accidentally falls off its seat. Question: what is it, out of camera shot, during this sequence that seems to be preoccupying Crawford so much?

Audio clips:

sound clip Betty invites her dance partner in for coffee.

Men as Women

Tx: 2/12/78: 2030-2105.

Ratings: 19.2 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Glynn Edwards (Mr Lewis), Derek Farr (Dr Mender), Dick Bentley (Grandad), Roger Kemp (Dr Hutchings), Bunny May (Postman), Linda James (Receptionist), Johnny Allan (Mr Hollis), Norman Hartley (Demolition Man).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Dinah Collin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Make up), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), Mike Robotham (Film Editor), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow (Production Assistant), Graham Sisson (Video Tape Editor), Andrew Howe-Davies (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

Frank is working with a demolition gang, blowing up an old brickyard. He misinterprets an announcement of the time left until an old chimney is brought down and narrowly avoids being squashed.

Back at home, Frank receives a letter from his grandfather in Australia who is on his way over to visit. Grandad Spencer has opened a sheep farm and wants Frank to take flying lessons and then return to Australia to help him run it.

Later that day, Frank gets into a panic when he thinks that his daughter Jessica has swallowed a coin and he calls Doctor Mender out to investigate. Unbeknown to Frank, Mender is on his way to play a dame in the hospital pantomime. Doctor Mender can't find anything wrong with Jessica and borrows the use of one of the Spencers' bedrooms in order to change into his ugly-sister costume. Frank and Betty are shocked to find what they think is a transvestite in their house. The situation is made worse when Mender's colleague, Dr Hutchings, arrives at the door also in drag. Events are interrupted by another ring of the door bell – Grandad Spencer has arrived. He enters and plants a huge kiss on Mender's lips, thinking him to be Betty (Mender: "I beg your pardon, sir – I am the family doctor!") Learning that the third ugly sister is ill, Frank offers to take part in the pantomime and emerges dressed in a ridiculous Swiss peasant girl costume he made for a carnival.

As someone so shocked by sexual deviancy, it was only fitting that Frank should eventually come face to face with it. But, of course, it is all a misunderstanding and the two transvestites that Frank thinks he has in his house are merely pantomime dames.

The film sequence in the brickyard at the beginning of this episode is very well executed, with one continuous shot showing the chimney collapsing and then Crawford appearing through the dust.

Glynn Edwards as Frank's hot-tempered neighbour, Mr Lewis, is also in good form here, using a barrage of brutishly sarcastic threats to complain about the amount of noise emanating from the Spencer household.

Audio clips:

sound clip The postman calls, but Frank is deaf after his episode at the brickyard.

sound clip Mr Lewis, the Spencers' neighbour, complains about the noise.

sound clip Mr Lewis complains again while the doctor is tending to Jessica.

Motorbike

Tx: 9/12/78: 2030-2105.

Ratings: 16.9 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Derek Farr (Dr Mender), Bernard Gallagher (Det-Sgt Lang), Geoffrey Chater (Mr Whittle), Derek Newark (Mr Hunt), John Harvey (JP Hawkins), Ellis Dale (Clerk Of Court), Patrick McAlinney (Fr O'Hara), David Ryall (Mr Rumford), Peter Hughes (Gp-Capt Lacey), Gretchen Franklin (Mrs Welch), Graham Ashley (Mr Stewart), Brian Hawksley (Ellis), Richard Seager (PC), Jeff Howard, Ron Woods, Ron Musgrove (PCs), Michael Moore, Rosina Stewart, Frances Batsoni, Martin Grant, Mike Mungarvan, Fred Reford, Vincent Hayes, Yvette Rey, Zelda Tatham, Charles Adey-Gray, Henry Rayner, John Tatham, Robert Hargreaves, Lee Richards (in courtroom).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Val Mussetti (Stunt Advisor), Colin Mapson (Visual Effects Designer), Dinah Collin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Make up), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), Rick Gauld (Film Camera Operator), Mike Robotham (Film Editor), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow (Production Assistant), John Sillitto (Video Tape Editor), Richard Morris (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

Frank is taking his motorbike test for his new job as a dispatch rider. His examiner gives him a route to follow, planning to step out suddenly in front of the bike in order to test Frank's emergency stop. Frank takes the wrong route and, meanwhile, the examiner steps out in front of another similar bike which unfortunately doesn't stop... After riding around aimlessly for two hours – his examiner having been taken to hospital – Frank returns home with "gross chafing" to his legs from his time spent sitting on the bike.

At his new job, Frank is unwittingly being used by his boss to deliver packages of pornographic photos. Just after he leaves for a morning's delivery, the police raid the headquarters of the firm and arrest the boss. Back on the road, Frank's bike goes out of control and he has a hair-raising ride around the local countryside. More by luck than judgement, Frank ends up back at the headquarters where he too is arrested.

On the day of his court appearance, Frank parades a line-up of character witnesses before the increasingly irritated magistrate, including his doctor and priest. Eventually, the exasperated magistrate lets Frank off on the grounds of stupidity (Frank: "You mean I'm free – I can walk out?" / Magistrate: "You can run if you like.")

Later, Frank is riding home on his bike and spots the magistrate and clerk of the court in a car. In an attempt to get away from him, they jump a red light and crash into another car.

Frank busted for distributing hard-core porn? Yes, indeed, that's the plot of this strange episode, the central core of which is Frank's wild ride on his out-of-control motorbike: probably the most dangerous stunt work attempted on the series (Crawford: "I wasn't too happy when I met my two motorcycle instructors. One of them was limping, with a stick, and the other had his arm in plaster. And if your trainers look like that...") Although individual shots such as Frank going along sitting sideways on the seat are indeed highly impressive, the sequence fails to hang together properly, especially the rather forced slapstick once we have cut back to the studio office set for the end of the sequence.

The less said about the "farting metal detector" scene the better, as this appears to have been inspired by one of those dreadful bits of Are You Being Served? in which Mr Harman brings on a "funny" gadget (aside from this, why would the detector have the indicator light on top of your head where you couldn't see it?)

Desperation in the writing shows in another way too. If you find yourself with strong sense of déjà vu during the sequence where the examiner intends to test Frank's emergency stop but instead accidentally steps out in front of another, similarly dressed biker (who doesn't stop), then that's because an almost identical plot had been already been used some years previously in the 1966 The Likely Lads episode, Rocker.

The later scenes in court are more interesting, though. We once again see Frank's priest, Father O'Hara, though this time the character is played by Patrick McAlinney, for some reason, instead of the original actor, Cyril Luckham. Also, Dr Mender is also called and is described as the doctor who looked after Betty during her pregnancy; in fact that was Dr Smedley – continuity never was this series' strong point!

The only surviving Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em out-take other than those from Learning to Drive (q.v.) is from this episode: it features Crawford struggling with the word "church", which eventually emerges as "turch", causing Michele Dotrice to collapse in giggles.

This episode is referred to on the DVD releases as King of the Road.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank is in court.

sound clip Frank has the manager of his labour exchange in court as a character witness.

sound clip A blooper where Michael Crawford has trouble with the word "church" (see above).

Australia House

Tx: 16/12/78: 2030-2105.

Ratings: 16.7 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Edward Hardwicke (Mr Lawrence), Glynn Edwards (Mr Lewis), Dick Bentley (Grandad), Diana King (Miss Butler), David Rose (Man), Jessica Forte (Jessica), Geraldine Davies (Judy).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Colin Mapson (Visual Effects Designer), Dinah Collin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Make up), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), Rick Gauld (Film Camera Operator), Graham Sisson (Video Tape Editor), Mike Robotham (Film Editor), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow (Production Assistant), Andrew Howe-Davies (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

Frank is having training in elocution as he thinks that his forthcoming flying lessons will bring him into contact with upper-class people. The sessions are not going too well and his highly strung teacher suggests that he finds somebody else to tutor him.

Later, while talking to Jessica in her bedroom, Frank notices his neighbour, Mr Lewis, gesturing to him from the garden. A tit-for-tat battle ensues which results in Lewis sawing his own garden hoe in half, believing it to be Frank's. He throws the useless tool away in disgust – straight through the glass of his own greenhouse.

The next day, Frank is summoned to Australia House to discuss his emigration request. Although the emigration officer, Mr Lawrence, is not impressed by Frank's one qualification – a swimming certificate – he eventually agrees to the resettlement in a desperate attempt to get Frank out of his office.

Frank has advertised his skills as a gas fitter in a shop window and that afternoon receives a rare call from somebody requiring his services. Mr Lewis is on his way to work at the same time. However, Frank's inept attempt to direct Lewis' car out of a tight parking space results in Lewis crashing into a passing milk float (Frank, to the milkman surveying the damage: "If there's any left, can you leave an extra one at 27 please?") Now forced to cadge a lift with Frank, Lewis is not pleased to find Frank stopping off to do the gas repair and has to wait patiently outside the house. After a few minutes, there is a sudden massive explosion which blows out the windows and door of the building. A dishevelled and charred Frank emerges and explains to his gobsmacked customer, "Well, that's the best I can do for the moment."

A good episode, crammed with almost too many events to fit into the 35 minutes. We see Frank struggling with his elocution lessons in an effort to be "verbally excruciating"; reassuring Betty about their move to Australia (Betty: "We'll be meeting strange people." / Frank: "They're not strange – they're like me!"); and driving the emigration officer handling their case to despair within the space of a ten-minute meeting (not helped by Frank opening a can of Fosters lager all over him).

However, one major flaw with this episode is that the wooden fence and garden tools that Frank and his neighbour use to battle each other are quite obviously fakes made of rubber, and this compromises our enjoyment of the scene a tad. One can appreciate that the actors are being hit in the, er, nether regions by some of these props, but wouldn't it have been more realistic (and cheaper) for them just to wear some form of protection (like a cricket box) instead?

The ending is great and, in repeat showings that leave out the longer Learning to Fly Christmas special (below), the singed Frank getting back into his car after his gas "repair" is the last we ever see of him.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank encounters his neighbour, Mr Lewis, over the garden fence.

sound clip Frank is interviewed about his emigration request.

Christmas 78 - Learning to Fly

Tx: 25/12/78: 1915-2000.

Ratings: 15.8 million.

Cast: Michael Crawford (Frank), Michele Dotrice (Betty), Frederick Jaeger (Mr Barker), Dick Bentley (Grandad), Tenniel Evans (Air Traffic Controller), Tony Steedman (Mr Jennings), Christopher Biggins (Prewett), Linda Beckett (Linda), Jessica Forte (Jessica), Alexander Moss (Alexander).

Crew: Raymond Allen from stories by Michael Crawford, Dinah Collin (Costume), Gillian Thomas (Make up), Reg Pope (Film Cameraman), John Sillitto (Video Tape Editor), Tariq Anwar & Alan Cumner-Price (Film Editors), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chamberlain (Sound), Martin Shardlow, Judy Loe, Peter R Lovell (Production Assistants), Andrew Howe-Davies (Design), Sydney Lotterby (Producer).

Frank arrives at a local flying school to book his first lesson. Going for an impromptu stroll around the airfield, Frank, Betty and Grandad are nearly mown down by an approaching plane and realise too late that they are inadvertently walking along the actual runway.

Back at home, Jessica has playmate Alexander round for lunch. Frank insists on singing one of his songs to Alexander who shows his appreciation by throwing a plate of blancmange in Frank's face.

Returning to the airfield that afternoon for his first lesson, Frank is disturbed to learn that the light aircraft he will be flying has neither parachutes nor ejector seats. Despite this initial reluctance, the pre-flight checks are eventually complete and Frank is soon taxiing the plane along the runway. Unfortunately, he only succeeds in steering it into the airfield car park. Once airborne, Frank is too excited to pay close attention to his instructor. He misunderstands a command and begins to open his cabin door in mid-flight. Hurriedly leaning over to pull it shut, the instructor knocks himself unconscious, leaving the aircraft in the incapable hands of Frank. Fortunately, after a few tense minutes, contact is established with the control tower (Air Traffic Controller: "Are you solo?" / Frank: "I don't know how low I am!" / Air Traffic Controller: "What is your present position?" / Frank: "I'm up here!")

Initial attempts to guide Frank back to the runway only result in him flying upside down and looping the loop but, just after the plane narrowly misses the control tower itself, Frank's instructor regains consciousness. The plane is returned safely to the ground to be met, as a precaution, by fire engines and ambulances. "Well, I've had one hour," says the excited Frank to his sweating instructor, "only another 34 to go!"

Despite being a Christmas special, this extended episode is not actually seasonal or festive in any way and simply follows on from the previous episode with Frank preparing for his move to Australia. The whole learning-to-fly idea came from Michael Crawford, who was inspired by his own experiences a couple of years earlier.

The film sequences here are handled very well and must have cost a fair amount of money. The viewer can see, through the plane's side window, that the aircraft is actually up in the sky during the dialogue sequences, rather than the painted backdrop (or bad superimposition) that would have been par for the course from the BBC during the 1970s.

Tony Steedman, who plays one of the flying-school's instructors, would later go on to success in the Hollywood comedy movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure where he played Socrates.

This was the last ever edition of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em although the BBC were obviously hoping for more hence the lack of a proper wrap-up – the last shot we see of Frank is him walking away from the camera in earnest discussion with his flying instructor. However Michael Crawford had other ambitions and moved on while the series was at a high rather than risk running it into the ground. Michael Crawford was not the only comedy actor with this attitude – both John Cleese in Fawlty Towers and Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder also passed over BBC requests to come up with more episodes and left those shows behind before they became stale.

Audio clips:

sound clip Frank sings a song to Jessica and her friend, Alexander.

sound clip Frank goes to see about some flying lessons.

sound clip Frank straps himself into his plane for the first time.