Or ‘Confessions of a Milkman’
By the mid 1980s, ITV had covered every middle class and working class occupation in sitcom form known to man. From freelance cartoonists to secretaries and ESOL lecturers, they covered every section of Britain at work or play.
Several years before milkmen was the subject of a Father Ted episode, milkmen didn’t get fair representation on the box, apart from on the first few minutes of Open All Hours. Cue Vince Powell, creator of Mind Your Language, Bless This House and Love Thy Neighbour.
Entitled Bottle Boys, it would originally be a comedy vehicle for Jim Davidson. In 1984, he was fresh from Up The Elephant and Round The Castle. Instead, he would resurface in its more successful spin-off series Home James. Instead of ‘nick nick’, the then London Weekend Television chief John Birt had a masterstroke.
Two Pints and a Tub of Timothy Lea
Mr Birt thought the bawdy nature of Bottle Boys would have been better suited to Robin Askwith than Jim Davidson. Famous for his role in the Confessions of a… sex comedies as Timothy Lea (based on the real life version who wrote the original books which begat the film spin-offs), he took the lead role of Dave Deacon, a football mad milkman.
The series ran for two seasons, with a six weekly episode run commencing on the 01 September 1984. Its second season was aired on the 13 July with a seven weekly episode run. Its humour wasn’t far removed from what you would have expected in Confessions of a Driving Instructor, though somewhat watered down for a wider audience.
On transmission, it was universally panned. Perhaps had Bottle Boys been aired in 1974, it may have garnered a better reception. In 1984, comedy itself had moved on. The cool kids weren’t watching sitcoms about milkmen trying to make out with the opposite sex. Instead, they were watching The Young Ones, reading 2000AD, typing programs on their ZX Spectrum, or watching ‘Allo ‘Allo, Hi-de-Hi! or Only Fools and Horses with the rest of the family. Not least the fact that alternative comedy and political correctness would render it as an anachronism.
The music, composed by Chas ‘n’ Dave, was jaunty enough and accompanied by animated titles. Cheap, cheerful, though hardly in the same league as John Tribe or Martin Lambie-Nairn’s works five years previous.
The 100 TV Moments from Hell
On its original broadcast in September 2000, Bottle Boys was rated as the 97th TV Moment From Hell, way below Mind Your Language, 3-2-1 and The 1989 BRITS Awards. The three hour long marathon, produced by Channel Four and Tyne Tees Television, presented by Zoe Ball, slated the quality of its script and rather dated jokes.
Was It Really That Bad? Does It Deserve Its Place In Television Hell?
If you liked Bottle Boys, feel free to defend its reputation. If you think it deserves its place in TV Hell, state why it deserves to be down there.
S.V., 22 August 2012.