Personal Services – Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial – tape 1339

First on this tape, Personal Services, a film inspired by the life of Cynthia Payne, the suburban brothel-keeper who used to charge people in luncheon vouchers. But it’s not actually about her, as the disclaimer at the start tells us.

Personal Services Disclaimer

Julie Walters plays Christine Painter, working as a waitress as the film opens, but who is subletting a number of flats to various prostitutes. She has a flair for presentation and sales, so it’s not long before she’s starting to manage some of them.

The joy of this film comes from Julie Walters, whose Christine is funny and abrasive. At her sister’s wedding, she does not approve of her marrying a policeman. “She’s a mean cow my sister. Tuppence says there’s marge in the bridge rolls.”

Incidentally, there’s a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from Arnold Brown as the priest. “No confetti!”

Arnold Brown

And the scene where she discovers that her maid, Dolly, is trans, is like a funny version of The Crying Game.

The Laughing Game

There’s an amusing argument about which toilet Dolly is allowed to use which is the same kind of idiotic argument still going on on some places today. It’s interesting, when looking back at film and TV, to see where attitudes have changed massively between then and now, and to see where we’re still stuck in the same attitudes we’ve always had. Social progress is a slow march.

The little vignettes of the women at work are strange and quaintly British. Here’s John Shrapnel dressed as a schoolgirl.

John Shrapnel as a schoolgirl

It’s a very Carry-On view of vice and sex, and might indeed have been a true reflection of Cynthia Payne’s enterprises. And when, after the sex parties have become well established, with middle-aged men queuing on the stairs with their luncheon vouchers, you definitely fell like the inevitable police raid is just churlish bad manners. But even them, Walters is in control. “I’m not going on one of them” she says, pointing at the vans filled with clients and girls. “I’ll go in yours” she says to the arresting officer, and when he lets her, she says “He’s a gentleman. Just my type. A touch of royalty about him.”

The writer, David Leland, definitely had something of a Cynthia Payne thing going on. He also wrote Wish You Were Here, a fictionalised version of Payne’s childhood.

After the film, LWT goes into Night time, and the first programme is Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial, a compilation of commercial parodies from SNL. Including such classic as Shimmer – It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner

It includes appearances from such Saturday Night Live luminaries as John Belushi

John Belushi

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy

Bill Murray

Bill Murray

Even Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr

After this, recording continues with The Big E, what looks like a Network 7-inspired yoof TV show about Europe. It doesn’t look promising

Back After the Break

There’s about 40 minutes of this before the tape ends


  • Boots
  • The Mail on Sunday
  • McVities Digestive
  • Yellow Pages
  • Philips DCC
  • Carlsberg
  • Seiko
  • Milk Tray
  • Mercury Phones – Harry Enfield
  • Archer’s
  • Hall’s Soothers
  • Sekonda – Madness
  • Bendicks
  • Nescafe – Andre Agassi
  • Polaroid
  • trail: London’s Burning
  • BT
  • Duplo
  • Babycham
  • Forte
  • Mike Reid Live
  • Nissan
  • trail: Where Angels Fear To Tread
  • trail: British Comedy Awards/Beadle’s About
  • Vauxhall Cavalier
  • Bodum
  • BT
  • Fruit & Nut
  • Microsoft – Making it Easier
  • Lurpak
  • Heat Electric
  • Country Friends
  • Midland
  • Kaliber
  • Karaoke Challenge
  • Tennent’s Extra
  • Forever in Blue Jeans
  • Super Nintendo – Street Fighter


  1. “Christine Painter” – yeah, that’s completely different. Not a bad film, though, with more than a hint of despair which takes the edge off some pretty well observed humour on British attitudes to sex.

    I remember seeing Cynthia on Wogan and not knowing what she was famous for, and my parents wouldn’t tell me!

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