Lex Petros: Mind Your Language

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mind Your Language

I must have watched my first episode of Mind Your Language sometime back in 1981 on celestial television.

One of the things of childhood past I will never forget and will always be kept in stitches watching the "united nations" on Youtube (click here to go to this channel). Although the series never made it past the 4th season lest there be more political correctness and less racial stereotyping. MYL ran from 1977 to 1979 and the final season in 1986. The show was produced by London Weekend Television, just like Terrahawks.

Who can forget the simple yet catchy theme song which barely lasts 2 minutes.

The premise is simple...A group of 10 foreign nationals learning English and the English way of life under the tutelage of Mr. Jeremy Brown (the late Barry Evans), a lowly-paid English teacher. Then there's Ms. Courtney (Zara Nutley), the school principal who is evidently a sexist in favour of women and according to Mr. Brown, a "pompous old twit" or "the old dragon".

Sidney or fondly called Sid (the late Tommy Godfrey) the deaf-in-one-ear and cockney speaking caretaker and Gladys (the late Iris Sadler), the tea lady shares the same sentiment about Ms. Courtney.

Most importantly, is the classroom compliment which made it all work.

I have to be proud that a fellow Malaysian starred in the British comedy; Penang -born Lim Pek-Sin potrayed Chung Su Lee, a very devout chairman Mao follower who has a penchant for political rallies and carries the "little red book" with her all the time. Lim Pek-Sin starred in a foreign movie last year called "Granny's Ghost" where she played a medium in Hong Kong visiting her grandson in the US unwittingly bringing a ghost along for the trip. Su Lee sits beside Taro Nagazumi (Robert Lee) a Japanese electronics rep who ends every word with an "O". Theyo wereo the only Asian nationalso.

Who can forget the beautiful Danielle Favre (Francoise Pascal), the French au pair with her seductive mannerisms, Maximillian Papadrios (Kevork Malikyan) the Greek who says "Hokay" and his Italian side-kick cook, Gionvanni Capello (George Camiller). Briefly, sexy Swede Ingrid Svenson (Anna Berg) who appeared in Seasons 1 and 3 prove to be Danielle's thorn-in-her-side. Then you have the very stoic Anna Schmidt (Jacki Harding), a German au pair with no tolerance for Max and Giovanni and a very strong grip when handshaking.

From the Indian continents, there's Ali "Oh Blimey" Nadeem (the late Dino Shafeek) a Pakistani constantly settling religious differences with Ranjit "Thousand Apologies" Singh (Albert Moses), the very naive Jamila Ranjha (Jamila Massey) with her yarn and needles. She sits next to Zoltan Szabo (Gabor Vernon) a Hungarian student who only appears in Season 3.

Last but not least, Juan Cervantes (Ricardo Montez), the "Spanish Onion" as Giovanni calls him, going about saying "Por favor", "wrong number" and "So rait" most of the time.

The slapstick humor never fails to force a giggle out of me at least. By today's standards, I think MYL still holds the audience well for a 'sketch quality' entertainment which capitalizes on racial undertones and religions differences.

MYL was one of the first tv programs which tickled me beyond belief and for that I will never give up reminiscing on the many times I died laughing.

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