Frank Spencer Returns

Sarah Earnshaw as Betty _ Joe Pasquale as Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do _Av _Em, credit Scott Rylander

It’s 44 years since Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em graced our TV screens – Naomi MacKay discovers if a new stage version stands the test of time…

Michael Crawford is memorable as the hapless Frank Spencer in the original TV comedy – but with the last episode having been filmed 44 years ago, I wondered whether a new stage show could really bring it into the 21st century?

Joe Pasquale was a great choice for the hapless Mr Spencer (despite being rather older than the original!). In this show, he has two major events happening – a new baby on the way and a visit by the BBC, offering a chance to show off his magic.

As you would expect from this show (if you’re old enough to have seen it first time around or on repeats) there are plenty of mishaps, confusion, and people being infuriated with poor Frank.

The set definitely takes us back to the 70s, with wallpaper that many of the audience no doubt recognised, and plenty of evidence of Frank’s DIY disasters, from flickering lamps, to a disastrous serving hatch.

Susie Blake as Mrs Fisher in Some Mothers Do _Av _Em, credit Scott RylanderThe good news is that Joe doesn’t attempt to imitate Michael Crawford’s characterisation – although I would have loved a few ‘Oh Betty’s’ in there for good measure – and instead relies on his knack for visual comedy to carry the play through, along with some fabulous word play.

It is, of course, all very farcical, and when you throw in the likes of Susie Blake’s man-hungry mother-in-law – who enjoys a few drinks – a bemused priest (James Patterson), and an infuriated bank manager and BBC producer (both ably played by Moray Treadwell), there is plenty of opportunity for humour.

Sarah Earnshaw as Betty, Moray Treadwell as Mr Luscombe _ Joe Pasquale as Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do _Av _Em, credit Scott RylanderOf course Michael Crawford was also well known for his stunts (who could forget Frank roller skating under a lorry!) and while he can’t recreate that level of accident on stage, Joe has a good crack at them – at one stage he falls down stairs taking each and every bannister with him – and there is one final big calamity towards the end.

It’s much more fun than I expected it to be – some of the comedy does feel a bit old hat, but the audience revelled in it – it’s the most laughter I’ve heard in a theatre for a long time!

If you fancy a night filled with laughter and silliness, it’s worth getting a ticket!

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 25 June.

Image credits: Scott Rylander