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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 2. Network.

You're Only Young TwiceHard as it might be to believe now, there was a time when British sitcoms were made for the mass audience, rather than a smug self-styled elite. While the best known of these rare old beasts continue to lumber across our TV screens on assorted satellite channels, there are dozens more that have disappeared into obscurity - sometimes deservedly, sometimes not. Thanks to the diligent efforts of labels like Network, more and more of these lost shows are re-emerging. But be warned - rose-tinted nostalgia can sometimes be shattered when confronted with these blasts from the past.

All of which brings us to You're Only Young Twice, a Yorkshire TV show that ran for four seasons between 1977 and 1981. Set in the retirement home Paradise Lodge, the show was one of the earliest examples of the 'oldies behaving badly' genre, where pensioners misbehave, get into scares and generally act like overgrown kids - hence the title (other shows of the ilk include One Foot in the Grave, Waiting for God and The Old Guys). Peggy Mount, who seemed to spend her entire career playing battleaxes, is the opinionated, self-important Flora Petty, while Pat Coombs plays Cissie, her trusting but dopey sidekick. Joining their adventures are Dolly ((Lally Bowers) and Mildred (Diana King), two frightfully posh residents, while Charmain May is the equally posh head of the home Miss Milton, Johnny Wade is handyman Roger and Peggy Ledger is Katy, the obligatory sexy blonde.

Over the eight episodes included here, the retired troublemakers accidentally attract the attention of the Vice Squad through a badly worded newsagents ad, try to impress a commercials director, accidentally steal a china elephant, find a baby on the doorstep and cause havoc at a spring fair, in hospital and elsewhere. The humour is not exactly subtle - there's plenty of stagey exaggeration, overacting and telegraphed punchlines, backed with music that is very Seventies sitcom as entirely unbelievable situations play out.

The problem with the show, for me, is Mount's character, who is so completely unpleasant, self-centred and pushy that you wonder how she would have any friends. She's remarkably annoying, and as she rarely gets her comeuppance, there's little enjoyment to be had from watching her. In the final episode, where the other residents mistakenly thing she's died, you almost wish they were right - not the feeling you really want for the lead character in a TV show. Mount's performance is full-blooded stuff for sure, but I'd rather it had been given in a role less one-dimensionally horrible.

You're Only Young Twice is very much of its time, and how much you enjoy it will probably depend on your age - if you saw it the first time around, it might raise a few chuckles, but younger viewers will probably find it quite hard going. As an example of a long-lost era of television, it's nice to see it out, but in reality this is no classic.




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