Controversial sitcom Till Death Us Do Part to air for first time in five decades

Four lost episodes of the controversial sitcom Till Death Us Do Part will be broadcast on TV for the first time in more than 50 years.

The classic comedy starred actor Warren Mitchell as the bigoted and racist ranting character Alf Garnett.

The show and its spin-off In Sickness and In Health ran on the BBC from 1966 until 1992 and in addition to its challenging themes, it was also one of the first to contain the swear word “bloody”.

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The late Prince Phillip once claimed it was The Queen’s “favourite show”.

However the comedy – which also starred Dandy Nichols as Alf’s long suffering wife Elsie, Una Stubbs as daughter Rita and Cherrie Blair’s father Tony Booth as son-in-law Mike – has not been on TV for years.

Early black and white episodes have been wiped and the last time it was repeated was on BBC Four back in 2010.

Like many old sitcoms, Till Death Us Do Part is now seen as no longer politically correct.

Creator Johnny Speight – who died in 1998 – always argued that his show was not offensive as it offered a “sharp social commentary” and audiences were always “laughing at” Alf Garnett’s ignorance and prejudice rather than with him.

The channel That’s TV has now snapped up the sitcom and will broadcast more than 80 episodes.

This will also include four stories which were believed to have been lost since the 1960s – and now have been recovered.

They are Intolerance from 1966 where Alf’s bigoted views cause trouble at a Liverpool match and he gets a visit from the real Ian St John and Willie Stevenson and also In Sickness and In Health from 1967 where Alf is sick and gets no sympathy from his family.

The other two are State Visit from 1967 where Alf is furious that the Russian PM is visiting PM Harold Wilson and finally The Phone from 1968 where Alf decides it’s time to get a home phone.

That’s TV programming boss Kris Vaiksalu, said: “At a time of great social change, Till Death Us Do Part set out to challenge ignorance and prejudice and in doing so became one of the most popular sitcoms in British history.

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These episodes have a special place in television history and are of wider historic significance, with Alf Garnett rallying against the changing attitudes of the 1960s.”

Johnny Speight’s widow Connie said: “He wrote Till Death Us Do Part as a ‘kitchen-sink’ comedy, openly ridiculing the politics and bigotry of the era.”

* The Alf Garnett season on That’s TV starts this Sunday (4 September) at 9.00pm.


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