Do Not Adjust Your Set

Do Not Adjust Your Set

Boxing Day 1967 was an interesting day for me as a 9-year-old. For a start, The Beatles latest film Magical Mystery Tour was broadcast. All good and well, as many millions of people also watched that film. The Beatles were still held in high esteem. However, another incredible broadcast was over on the ITV channel. Pitched as a children’s TV show, Do Not Adjust Your Set was not only anarchic but also quite simply mad… I loved it. The show featured a cast consisting of David Jason, Denise Coffey, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam.

The show also featured The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. From the opening scene of David Jason filmed eating a banana and then shown in reverse, I knew I was going to love this show. Many did, and the show ran until 1969. Why am I talking then about a children’s show from the sixties? Well, apart from being a stepping off point for members of the Python mob, who themselves celebrate their fiftieth anniversary this year, the surviving shows of Do Not Adjust Your Set have just been released on a three-disc DVD set.

The show, as I have said, was completely anarchic, not to mention somewhat subversive when you consider it was aimed at children. In some ways, I was cautious when putting the disc in the player, as what might seem riotously funny when you are a child, may seem slightly less funny over fifty years on. I need not have worried, though, because the show still makes me laugh out loud. Interestingly, some of the sketches would reappear in the early Python shows. “The Quiz Rules” sketch will certainly be familiar, but other highlights are the recurring sketch Captain Fantastic and Mrs Black. I can remember vividly looking forward to the Adventures of Captain Fantastic every week. Elsewhere, the third disc features audio versions of the show, which even without the visuals are still incredibly funny.

Now, onto The Bonzos. The Bonzos were an integral part of Do Not Adjust Your Set, and their appearances throughout the show are a delight. There is a great feature in this set that is titled “The Bonzos Jukebox.” Watch in awe as the band perform the likes of “The Urban Spaceman,” “Jollity Farm,” and many more Bonzos classics, all performed without the aid of a net. The special features section of the set also features interviews with Neil Innes, Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin Spear, and “Legs” Larry Smith.

Throughout the hugely informative booklet also comes all the details about the show, including interviews with Sir David Jason and the producer of the show, Humphrey Barclay, who people may know also had a hand in putting the Pythons together for the BBC. All in all, well done BFI for releasing this gem of a programme along with another set entitled At Last The 1948 Show, which featured the remaining Pythons, John Cleese and Graham Chapman. The Do Not Adjust Your Set box, however, really does hit the spot for me and I still can’t believe it was a children’s show. It does, however, come highly recommended, from my childhood to you.


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