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21 September 2014
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The Crouches

The Crouches

There is a scene in "Live and Let Die" where the CIA's Harold Stutter turns to Bond after rescuing him from a store selling voodoo goods and 'commends' him on his disguise: "A white face in Harlem, good thinking Bond".

Presumably it was just this kind of thinking that persuaded the BBC that its first all-black sitcom should be written by Ian Pattison, creator of Rab C Nesbitt and, just like Rab, both Scottish and very white.

Natalie, Lindy and Adele

Whereas no English writer could have written Rab – a drunken ne'er-do-well living off the social – without facing accusations of dealing in lazy and patronising stereotypes, so it quickly became clear that a white Scotsman, however well-intentioned, could not write about a south London black family without facing similar accusations: especially with paterfamilias Roly in a dead-end job on London Underground, daughter Adele playing tonsil-hockey with a local wide-boy "gangsta" and three generations of Crouches (including teasing grandpa and frighteningly sexually frank grandma) all squeezed into one house.

The BBC's defence that "It's a sitcom about a family that just happens to be black" convinced very few, especially when the comedy itself didn't hold up as well as it should.  One reviewer called for Pattison to be "dipped in honey then fed to a battalion of fire ants".

Ed, Bailey and Roly

The upshot was that when the programme returned for a new series Pattison had been dumped and a group of talented black writers, including "Desmond's" veteran Paul Mackenzie, brought in.

While the scripts now seemed to reflect reality much more closely, they struggled to find a consistent level between episodes.

In any event, the damage had probably already been done.  Despite having an excellent cast The Crouches was cancelled after its second series.

Cast

Robbie Gee
Roly
Jo Martin
Natalie
Rudolph Walker
Grandpa Langley
Mona Hammond
Grandma Sylvie
Akemnji Ndifornyen
Aiden
Aaron Shosanya
Aiden
Ony Uhiara
Adele
Don Warrington
Bailey
Jimmy Akingbola
Dennis Dutton, Dennis Ubakemma
Llewella Gideon
Lindy

Crew

Ian Pattison
writer
Paul McKenzie
writer
Patricia Elcock
writer
Liselle Kayla
writer
Nick Wood
director
Paulette Randall
producer
Carlton Dixon
producer
Stephen McCrum
producer
Kenton Allen
executive producer
Ian Pattison
executive producer
Ian Pattison
creator

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