I Didn't Know You Cared

I Didn't Know You Cared


Reviewed by: Caro Ness

Peter Tinniswood's novels, A Touch of Daniel (1969), I Didn't Know You Cared (1973) and Except You're A Bird (1974), which introduced the Brandon family to the world, proved to be a rich vein of humour when filmed for the small screen.

The Brandons are a truly ghastly extended family (week after week more aunts and uncles appear). Uncle Mort is the pivotal central character, an incredibly dour, pessimistic misogynist. His dense nephew Carter has become engaged to Pat. He is as reluctant as she is determined to get him down the aisle. Carter blocks Pat at every turn, something that Uncle Mort and his brother-in-law Les (Carter's father) highly approves of and positively encourages, convinced as they are that marriage is a truly appalling crime against manhood.

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Les and Annie (Mort's sister) constantly argue, another factor that puts Carter off, but Pat and her appalling mother are determined that the marriage should happen, which indeed, eventually, it does. The marriage doesn't change much in the scheme of things, even though Pat has ideas of upward mobility.

The battle of the sexes is never-ending, with the male characters, even the powerful Uncle Mort and the inscrutable Les, powerless in the face of the closed ranks of formidable family females. Only old Uncle Stavely manages to remain untouched and unbeaten, which is largely due to his deafness.

Robin Bailey is suitably deadpan and dryly humorous as Uncle Mort and Liz Smith is marvellously dismissive and inventively manipulative as Annie. She and he form the glue that holds the cast together and makes this series work so well.

Initially, I believed that despite its cult status I was going to loathe the while thing. In the light of the slick urban comedies of today it seems a little hackneyed, obvious and cliched. Uncle Stavely's constant refrain of "I heard that! Pardon?" seems forced and unnatural and the women are incredibly stoic and able to cut the men down to size with their logic, or their hymn singing, whilst the men seem to wallow in pessimism.

It becomes clear, however, quite quickly that Tinniswood really does have a handle on Northern life and its idiosyncrasies. His observations are acute, his touch instinctive and he has the most marvellous ear for the humour of Northern dialogue. Having started out believing that I would hate this series, I couldn't help falling for its charm.

Reviewed on: 23 May 2005
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I Didn't Know You Cared packshot
Seventies sitcom about an extended family.
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Director: Bernard Thompson

Writer: Peter Tinniswood

Starring: Robin Bailey, Liz Smith, John Comer, Anita Carey, Stephen Rea

Year: 1975

Runtime: 196 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


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If you like this, try:

I Didn't Know You Cared: Season 2