Monday 1 May 2023

Bank Holiday Fun - Bilko vs Top Cat - Who is your fave

 Last week, I saw a comment that the Top Cat cartoon series only ran for a single series between 1960 and 61 on US TV. I was quite surprised as I was pretty sure it was mid/late 1960's.  I did a quick google and to my amazement, there was a single series of 30 episodes in the US and it was shown in the UK shortly after. At the time, it was possiblymy favourite show. I loved the premise of talking, streetwise cats getting the better of the law. What I'd not realised until I read up on the series was that it was based on the Seargeant Bilko series, with Top Cat's character being based on Bilko and his obsession with get rich schemes.

Interestingly, whilst as a kid I loved Top Cat, I detested Bilko. My Dad, who had served in both the Australian Air Force and Army in World War Two loved it. He said it was the best portrayal of what it was actually like being in the forces. I can remember him telling me that it was the best show about the army. I watched it, expecting action, blood, guts and gore and all there was was snappy dialog. I couldn't understand why my Father rated it. It was shown again in the 80's or 90's and I got it, realising just what a comedy genius Phil Silvers was.

When it comes to comedy, I've always had rather particular tastes. I'm not a massive fan of stand up comedy. Too often it is simply not pleasant. Much UK comedy involves posh people being silly, which didn't really float my boat. The things I really enjoy are series such as Porridge. Ronnie Barker and Morcambe and Wise were masters of observational comedy. They had amazing timing and the comedy was clever, but in a way that took the audiene with them. They never assumed that the audience was stupid and much of their comedy you had to think about. Phil Silvers in Bilko is pretty much the same.

As for Top Cat. It was a cartoon that was exceptionally well written. I would have posted a link but there are none to complete episodes for copyright reasons. The basic premise was that Top Cat (TC) was always trying to move upwards from the bins in the alley and the forces of authority (Officer Dibble) were there to thwart him.

Not quite sure which I prefer as both are works of genius, but as it's a bank holiday, I thought I'd post a link to Bilko at his best.


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