Ooh...You Are Awful! (GB 1972)

Director: Cliff Owen

Starring: Dick Emery, Ronald Fraser, Pat Coombs, Wiiliam Franklyn, Derren Nesbitt

Cinematography: Ernest Steward

Original Music: Christopher Gunning

Screenplay: John Warren and John Singer

Bit Part: Lisa Goddard, Norman Bird

FACT : Ooh...You Are Awful! has the guts, balls, bottle, cohones and chutzpah to mention the dreaded word 'Mafia' - unlike its inferior and rather cowardly rival The Godfather

LIE: .......fancy dress party......strip of sand paper... .....Dick Emery........etc

In one line:  Conman seeks the details of a Swiss bank account whilst pursued by East End gangsters and the Mafia.


Charlie Tully (Emery) and Reggie Campbell-Peek (Fraser) con the influential Italian Ferruci family out of half a million pounds. Charlie and Reggie pretend to be Royal Family equerries who have set up an arranged marriage between the eldest Ferruci son and Princess Anne. Ferruci senior contacts a Mafia don to seek revenge. Meanwhile, Reggie has caused the enmity of vicious Cockney gangster Sid Sabbath by sleeping with his wife. Charlie is imprisoned after trying to con two gullible Americans at Heathrow airport. Reggie visits Charlie to give him the details of the Swiss bank account which is holding their loot. Charlie tells Reggie to wait until he is released as he talks in his sleep. Just as Reggie is about to reveal the details (following Charile's release), he is murdered by the Sabbath gang. Through a convoluted series of 'logical' steps, Charlie works out that the bank details have been tattooed on the 'bottoms' of a number of Reggie's 'conquests'. Charlie uses a variety of his conman disguises to unearth the evidence, with both the Mafia and Sid Sabbath's mob in close pursuit


Ooh... You Are Awful! is quite obviously, rubbish. Dick Emery was in many ways a poor man's Peter Sellers, but for anyone who experienced the seventies, he was a far more important figure, occupying a commanding role in the Saturday night TV schedules with audiences of 15-16 million viewers. The Dick Emery Show occupied a hallowed place in a BBC monopolised quadrilogy which also included The Generation Game, Match of the Day and Parkinson.

The Dick Emery Show involved some very broad comedy more akin to ITV's output of the time, but once it had become part of the low-cultural furniture, there was no stopping it. Until new BBC paymasters arrived in the early 80s, that is.

Emery is fondly remembered, however. Most of his creations were crap, but there's a certain harmless nostalgia which can be gleaned from reminiscing about both the programme and the film. Emery's 'man-mad' 'Mandy', the sex-starved 'Hetty' (both seen in the film) and his educated 'tramp' character 'College' live on in the minds of those who saw the programme, but they'll never be part of any comedy pantheon.

My personal favourite was Emery's skinhead father and son double act with Roy Kinnear. Kinnear played the dad, whilst Emery played his somewhat challenged son Gaylord, whose catchphrase "I done it wrong again, dad!" has come to my mind on many occasions following all sorts of mishaps throughout the years. I remember once nearly slicing the top off my index finger with a hacksaw, and as the blood fell in giant disturbing drops, the best I could muster was Gaylord's catchphrase. Not terribly helpful.

Anyway, the film. Emery goes through a number of transitions to mimic the structure of his TV programme, and there's a certain charm that's derived from time and distance. It's always good to see certain British stalwarts of TV and film and to realise that the past is indeed a foreign country. It's easy to deride the 'shite' that was made in the name of 'entertainment' from an earlier age without considering the fact that the same sort of thing will be replicated in perpetuity. For Dick Emery and On the Buses, read Kevin and Perry Go Large or Horne and Corden's Lesbian Vampire Killers monstrosity.

As I say, any pleasure derived from this film is simply a question of nostalgia. A crude plot device sees Charlie Tully photographing women's arses and Emery 'drags up' to evade the mobsters in an Evo-Stik League take on Some Like It Hot. There are stereotypes all over the place and you could count the number of genuinely comic lines on the fingers of Charlie George's left hand.

But it was quite nice to see a visual document of early seventies Britain, and as time progresses, the only genuine important aspect of the spin-off film will be to serve as some sort of sociological/historical reminder of times past. Anyone who has seen poor quality representations of the seventies in films such as (the otherwise rather good)Velvet Goldmine will know what I mean.

There are numerous examples of screenwriters (and Dick Emery Show regular writers) Warren and Singer's obsessions. There are no fewer than four examples of the loudmouth, 'gullible American' being 'taken for a ride'. There are regular uses of the ambiguous pronouns 'them', 'they' and 'it' to reference breasts, penises and sex (Emery's blonde creation is 'Mandy Dunnit') in classic seventies stylee, and there is a preponderance of boobs and bums to satisfy a British film audience on the cusp of a series of Confessions style 'bawdy' 'romps'.

Fraser and the odd, sparrow-like Coombs provide good support as ever, but if you make it to the end of this film, you'll have done well.

Ooh... You Are Awful! is nowhere near as risible as the worst of (there's a best of?) Carry On series, but like that series it always begs the question: if they could find the money to make such awful films, why couldn't someone have found the money to make the odd decent British film in the seventies?

Having said all that, I quite enjoyed OYAA, but in the same way I'd enjoy the occasional junk food meal. Fine while it lasted, but not fulfilling and it made me feel slightly sick afterwards.

And where was the vicar? The greatest influence DE has had on my life concerns my reactions to people with bad caps or dentures - "Fuck me!" I'll think. "He/she's got Dick Emery vicar teeth!"

And my ill-judged 'Dick Emery homage' fancy dress outfit, of course.


SV (2012)