A Very Polish Practice – Arsenic And Old Lace – tape 1377

This tape opens with the weather from Bill Giles.

There’s a trailer for a new series of Inside Story. And it’s Hello to Jason Isaacs with a trailer for Lynda La Plante’s Civvies.

Then, Screen One presents A Very Polish Practice. I’m very disappointed they’ve not kept Elkie Brooks’ theme tune. But hooray, the nuns are still there.

Dr Daker (Peter Davison) is living with Grete (Joanna Kanska), and they have a small child.

Bob Buzzard (David Troughton) is also travelling to Poland, being his usual obnoxious self. He gets caught up in a drug bust as the passenger he was sitting next to turns out to be a heroin smuggler.

Trevor Peacock (off of Vicar of Dibley) plays a former communist who’s in charge of the hospital, and who Daker needs to get drugs for the hospital.

Alfred Molina plays a shady businessman who Buzzard wants to contact for business purposes, and who Grete used to have a relationship with. And she now feels she has an obligation of some kind to him. Will she leave Daker for him?

It has an almost happy ending, but generally it’s a little depressing.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th September 1992 – 21:25

After this, recording switches to much later into the year – in fact it’s after midnight on Christmas Eve, so the announcer wishes us all a Merry Christmas.

(I notice, apropos of nothing, that earlier that evening BBC1 was showing Sea of Love)

Then, we have Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace. This is a film which I remember seeing when I was fairly young, and I used to think the brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt was the funniest thing, particularly the way he runs up the stairs shouting CHAAARGE! I also saw the revival of the play in the West End, which starred Seinfeld’s Michael Richards.

Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a writer and confirmed bachelor, who is getting secretly married.

Priscilla Lane is the woman he’s marrying, who grew up living next door to Brewster’s childhood home.

He visits to say hello to his aunts, who still live there.

And his brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt

But things start getting strange when he discovers a dead body in the window seat, put there by his aunt. They’ve been poisoning men for years, and there are 11 more bodies buried in the basement.

As if that weren’t enough, Mortimer’s brother, Jonathan, played by Raymond Massey,comes to the house. He’s definitely a bad-un, and has had plastic surgery, so there’s a running gag that he looks like Boris Karloff.

He’s there with his doctor and conspirator Dr Einstein (Peter Lorre).

And he’s got a dead body of his own. Which sets the stage for a classic farce. It’s a lot of fun. And Teddy running up the stairs shouting CHAAARGE still makes me laugh.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th December 1992 – 00:35

After this, there’s a trailer for programmes on Christmas Day.

There’s a brief look at the weather, then a public information film about driving in the fog. Then BBC1 closes down, with Christmas greetings from Richard Straker, who also namechecks the team with him, Mike, Charmian, Robin, John, Philip and Bronwen.

Then the channel closes down with the National Anthem.

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4 comments

  1. Good Christmas Day TV for the period, that – fun for all the family, and not a prime-time showing of Titanic in sight.

  2. Yeah, A Very Polish Practice was a letdown, especially when the proper series had ended on such a satisfying (if not exactly cheerful) note. Nice to see the characters again, but that was about it.

    Arsenic and Old Lace is a lot of fun, but wouldn’t you have loved to have seen Boris Karloff himself as the brother who looks like Boris Karloff? Alas, he was tied up in the stage play version that was a huge hit, and was unavailable for filming (Peter Lorre managed to get some time off, he was in the play too). Priscilla Lane holding back the tears when Cary Grant tells her he can’t marry her is a curiously poignant moment in such a broad comedy, too.

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