I Didn't Know You Cared: Season 2

I Didn't Know You Cared: Season 2


Reviewed by: Martin Fitzgerald

The word "classic" is overused.

The man on the street and his mates are forever using it to add more weight to their opinion. It's a con, an illusion, designed to elevate the average. Everything and anything has become classic and until people have to be accredited before they can use the word it will continue to be the case. I think this all started with Bat Out Of Hell, or was it The Dead Parrot Sketch? I'm not really sure.

Copy picture

Anyway, if you ever needed proof of this, I refer you to the DVD cover of I Didn't Know You Cared: Season 2, optimistically billed as "the classic comedy series." Never heard of it? No, neither had I.

Set in the North of England, it dates from the mid Seventies and centres around The Brandon family and their hapless friends, a cast so overrun with crude stereotypes it's difficult to imagine how they got their associated baggage through the door.

Just to give you an idea: it features Uncle Mort (Robin Bailey), the dour old Yorkshireman who hates everything, Les (John Comer), the henpecked husband who just wants peace and Annie (Liz Smith), his nagging wife who can't be quiet. They are conveniently joined in their misery by Pat (Anita Carey), the aspirational young wife, who wants to keep up with the Joneses, and Carter (Stephen Rea), her reluctant husband, who just wants a pint and a pork pie. Outside of the family, there is Linda, the sexually provocative busty blonde, and Louis, the black factory worker, who doesn't get a line unless it exploits the fact that - guess what? - he's black.

At one point the young wife says of him, "I know he can't help being common, but surely he can do something about his complexion".

Yeah, classic racism. Well done.

Last and probably least, there's Uncle Stavely (Bert Palmer), a senile war veteran, who carries his best mate's ashes in a box around his neck and interrupts the constant bickering with the cry of "I 'eard that! Pardon?" My research has led me to believe that this is the catchphrase of the show. Unsurprisingly, it never caught on in my school playground, unless I was hospitalised for a year and no one has bothered to tell me.

So what do these people get up to? What's the plot?

What there is is pretty thin. The second series focuses around Pat, the young wife, trying to make an executive out of Carter. The males in the family try to keep Carter as their own and attempt to dissuade him away from his new life. This basic premise is then used to hang a multitude of sexist, racist gags, as each episode crawls towards its finish.

Everyone plays their stereotypical roles to imperfection. The men moan about women, try anything to get a pint, whilst the women ruin hot pots and bemoan their luck. Its depiction of Northern life and the battle of the sexes is crude at best and after a while you begin to feel a certain empathy for the senile Uncle Stavely, as he seems blissfully unaware of what is going on around him, until, of course, he utters his catchphrase and then, like the rest of them, you want to kill him, too.

Its biggest crime, worse than everything I have said, is the fact that it's just not funny. I'll forgive anything if it makes me laugh, but this never even threatens. Neither traditional, nor alternative, it is village idiot comedy, played out by an amateur dramatics group. I thought someone was going to walk into my living room when it finished with a collection box for the players. I thought a lot of things whilst watching this and they all made my head hurt.

People will try and convince you that this is comedy from a gentler time, but frankly I'm not buying it. There's an underlying violence, particularly in the misogyny, which betrays any notion of gentleness. The BBC has never repeated this when (even) Sorry and Two Pints Of Lager have had repeats. That says it all.

I didn't know you cared? I don't

Reviewed on: 23 May 2006
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I Didn't Know You Cared: Season 2 packshot
A Nothern family sitcom, in which the men slag off the women and the women moan about the men.
Amazon link

Director: various

Writer: Peter Tinniswood

Starring: Robin Bailey, John Comer, Liz Smith, Stephen Rea, Anita Carey, Bert Palmer, Dierdre Costello, Gretchen Franklin, Vanda Godsell

Year: 1976

Runtime: 150 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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I Didn't Know You Cared