It’s not unusual for an episode of a TV series to be postponed because of current events. There are numerous examples, such as Red Dwarf‘s Meltdown, or Bottom ‘S Up. But it is rare for an entire series to be shelved. Opening my Radio Times Guide To TV Comedy on a random page, I found this was the case with the Frankie Howerd vehicle Then Churchill Said To Me, a 1982 sitcom for the BBC, written by Maurice Sellar and Lou Jones. Howerd played the hapless Private Potts, an underling working in the secret bunker headquarters of the British government during the second world war.
It was this wartime setting that was the problem – arriving in the schedules as it did at the height of the Falklands War.
Here’s a really fun little bit of ephemera, from the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser on 13th March 1982. It’s from Cleo’s Dear Members column (stop it).
On the 1st May, the show was announced in the schedules, to be broadcast on the 3rd, at least it was here in the Illustrated London News.
This is interesting, partly because they get the title wrong, but also because it seems to be the only mention of the show anywhere that week.
The war had begun on the 2nd of April, and so there had been plenty of time to postpone the show. Maybe the lead time for the Illustrated London News was so long that this was missed. As you can see, from the listings for 3rd May, there’s no mention of the sitcom in the Mirror.
And that’s it for the contemporaneous clippings. For a show featuring a big name star, and being yanked from the schedules, it got surprisingly little coverage at the time.
When the war ended, there was no reprieve for the sitcom either. It just sat on a shelf.
In 1987, we get this single mention in the Daily Record.
Then Churchill Said To Me was finally broadcast in 1993, on UK Gold, and was released on VHS at the same time. It eventually appeared on BBC Two in 2000.