Love Thy Neighbour (1972 TV series)

Love Thy Neighbour is a British television sitcom, which was broadcast from 13 April 1972 until 22 January 1976, spanning eight series and 54 episodes. The series was produced by Thames Television for the ITV network.

Love Thy Neighbour
Created byVince Powell
Harry Driver
StarringJack Smethurst
Rudolph Walker
Nina Baden-Semper
Kate Williams
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series8
No. of episodes53 (list of episodes)
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)Thames Television
Original networkITV
Original release13 April 1972 (1972-04-13) 
22 January 1976 (1976-01-22)

The principal cast consists of Jack Smethurst, Rudolph Walker, Nina Baden-Semper, and Kate Williams. In 1973, the series was adapted into a film of the same name, and a later sequel series was set in Australia.

Outline and the handling of 'race' issues

The series was created and largely written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, and was based around a suburban white working class couple (Eddie and Joan Booth) in Twickenham and a black couple (Bill and Barbie Reynolds) as next-door neighbours. One of the leads, Rudolph Walker, who played Bill Reynolds, wrote for The Guardian in 2001, it is about "a black guy and a white guy being damned stupid".[1]

Since 1972, when Love Thy Neighbour was first transmitted, it has been criticised for its politically incorrect handling of issues of racism, it was made in an era when Britain was perceived to be struggling to come to terms with mass immigration which Love Thy Neighbour was said to exemplify.[2] According to Sarita Malik, this meant "comedies about race" were really about "blacks signifying trouble" so that consequentially "if the White characters did display prejudice, this was deemed funny or understandable given the 'difficulty of the situation'."[3]

Its writers stated that each episode included both anti-white and anti-black sentiment.[4] In Malik's opinion, in this "mutual racism", racist attitudes were "shown as a reciprocal, inevitable and petty process" rather than being faced with any challenge.[3] As a result, according to Nora Plesske, the premise continued without any change in attitudes or permanent resolution of the conflict.[5]

The views of the main white male character (Eddie Booth, played by Jack Smethurst) were presented so as to make him appear ignorant and bigoted and were contrasted with the more tolerant attitude of his wife. "In nearly every show, the white neighbour was shown to be wrong", Rudolph Walker wrote in 2001.[1] A contemporary reviewer in the Daily Mirror, Mary Malone, believed "the only characters who leave the screen with their dignity intact are the blacks. Now that's what I call prejudice."[6]

The main male black character (Bill Reynolds, played by Walker) was better educated, although also stubborn and capable of using insulting phrases, such as the terms "Honky", "Snowflake", "Paleface" or "Big White Chief" to describe his white neighbour (often in response to being called "nig-nog" or "Sambo"). The comedy invariably fixated on the "Blackness" of Bill and Barbie or rather, as Malik expressed it, "television's interpretation of Blackness (limbo-dancing, voodoo/Black magic)."[3] Other black stereotypes, such as regular references to cannibalism from the first episode onwards, became a running joke.[7]

A contributor to the BFI Screenonline website wrote that "the characters and scripts of Love Thy Neighbour are flat, ramshackle, superficial and, because of the often careless and stereotypical exploitation of the central premise, intermittently offensive" while "the comic value of the clumsy and gratuitous slanging matches that were central to the show is difficult to comprehend today, and it all makes for glum viewing."[8]

It has sometimes been considered that Love Thy Neighbour was an attempt by ITV (with inferior writing) to capitalise on the success of the BBC's Till Death Us Do Part (by Johnny Speight), also the source of great controversy for many of the same reasons.[9] Repeats of Love Thy Neighbour have not been seen on British terrestrial television for many years. Rudolph Walker, who defends the series,[1] regrets the programme's reputation in a "very politically correct climate" and asked in 2003 why "We can't take the piss out of each other and laugh".[10] While Love Thy Neighbour was hugely popular at the time of its broadcast, its commissioner at Thames Television, head of light entertainment Philip Jones, acknowledged in 1972 that it received poor reviews.[2]

The series has since been repeated on satellite television stations in the UK, although each episode begins with a warning about content. In 2003, DVDs of the series were reported to be selling well in Nigeria, parts of the Caribbean and Australia.[10]

The theme song, "Love Thy Neighbour", was composed by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel and sung by Stuart Gillies.


  • Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst) is a working-class white socialist. His world is turned upside-down when Bill and Barbie Reynolds move in next door. He is even more annoyed when Bill gets a job at the same factory as him and refers to him as a "nig-nog", "Sambo", "choc-ice" and "King Kong" among other things. He also has a tendency to call Chinese, Pakistanis or Indians names like "Fu Manchu", "Gunga Din" and "Ali Baba". He repeatedly insinuates that all blacks (and Bill in particular) are cannibals and claims that "white always takes precedence over black". He was temporarily promoted to foreman in the episode "Clarky Leaves", but ended up being demoted after Bill complained he was running the factory-like a forced labour camp, and Bill got the job afterwards. He is a supporter of Manchester United. His catchphrases include "Bloody Nora!", "Knickers!", "The subject is closed", "You bloody nig-nog!" and "Get knotted!"
  • Joan Booth (Kate Williams) is Eddie's wife. She does not share her bigoted husband's opinion of their black neighbours and is good friends with Barbie. She often responds to Eddie's complaints with a sarcastic remark. Her catchphrases include "Don't be ridiculous!", "Don't talk rubbish!", and "May God forgive ya", which she normally says in response to Eddie denying his bigoted ways. She and Barbie both become pregnant at the end of Series 3 with Joan giving birth to a son, Mark. Played by Gwendolyn Watts in the pilot episode.
  • Bill Reynolds (Rudolph Walker) is a West Indian and a Conservative. He is a supporter of West Ham United. Whenever Eddie tries to outdo him, Bill usually ends up having the last laugh and rarely gets his comeuppance. He tends to have a very short temper, especially where Eddie's concerned and has threatened him with a clenched fist several times. Although more sophisticated and educated compared to Eddie, Bill is also stubborn and is more than capable of using insulting phrases as he occasionally refers to Eddie as a "white honky" and "snowflake", and does not like catching Eddie staring at his wife. He also has a very high-pitched laugh. Bill was promoted to foreman at the end of the episode "Clarky Leaves". His catchphrases include "Hey, honky!", "Cobblers!" and "You talking to me, snowflake?".
  • Barbie Reynolds (Nina Baden-Semper) is Bill's wife. Barbie and her next-door neighbour, Joan Booth, instantly strike up a friendship that carries on throughout the series, and the two women are often seen drinking tea or eating or getting caught up in their antagonistic husbands' latest row. Eddie is sometimes fascinated by her, as in the pilot episode when she bends over while wearing hotpants. She and Joan both become pregnant at the end of Series 3, with Barbie giving birth to a son, Terry. Unlike other characters, she doesn't have any catchphrases.
  • Jacko Robinson (Keith Marsh) is a socialist who works with Bill and Eddie. His catchphrase is "I'll have (a) half" (referring to a half pint of bitter). He isn't very bright and often deviates from discussions between Eddie, Bill and Arthur.
  • Arthur Thomas (Tommy Godfrey) is another of Eddie and Bill's socialist co-workers at the factory, and is often seen in the local pub playing cards and talking about trade union issues. Arthur, like Joan, is also more tolerant of Bill than Eddie is.
  • Nobby Garside (Paul Luty) is the barman of the social club from series 4 onwards. Initially hostile towards Eddie, they gradually sort out their differences as the series goes on.

Sequel and American remake

A spin-off series, Love Thy Neighbour in Australia, was made in 1979, three years after the British series ended. Consisting of seven episodes, the series saw the character Eddie Booth transplanted to the Sydney suburb of Blacktown. The explanation given for the absence of Eddie's wife and child is Eddie has emigrated first and the family will join him after he has established himself. The antagonism between Eddie and Bill was replaced by the difficulty of Eddie adapting to Australia.

An American version of the show, set in the suburbs of Los Angeles and titled Love Thy Neighbor, ran during the summer of 1973 on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network.[11] This toned-down version of the British original ran for one series of 12 episodes.[12]

Other appearance

Smethurst and Walker appeared as relaxing actors having a drink together in the studio bar when George Roper (Brian Murphy) walks in while searching the Thames Television TV studios in the 1974 film Man About the House.


Episodes of the series


0. "The Pilot" (unbroadcast pilot episode)

Series 1 (1972)

  1. "New Neighbours" (broadcast: 13 April 1972)
  2. "Limbo Dancing" (broadcast: 20 April 1972)
  3. "The Petition" (broadcast: 27 April 1972)
  4. "Factory Dispute" (broadcast: 4 May 1972)
  5. "The Seven Year Itch" (broadcast: 11 May 1972)
  6. "Refused A Drink" (broadcast: 18 May 1972)
  7. "Sex Appeal" (broadcast: 25 May 1972)
  • All written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver

Series 2 (1972)

  1. "The Housewarming Party" (broadcast: 11 September 1972)
  2. "Voodoo" (broadcast: 18 September 1972)
  3. "Clarky Leaves" (broadcast: 25 September 1972)
  4. "The Bedroom Suite" (broadcast: 2 October 1972)
  5. "The T.U.C Conference '72" (broadcast: 9 October 1972)
  6. "Religious Fervour" (broadcast: 16 October 1972)
  • All written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver

All Star Christmas Special

  1. "All Star Comedy Carnival" (broadcast: 25 December 1972)

Series 3 (1973)

  1. "The G.P.O" (broadcast: 19 March 1973)
  2. "The Car" (broadcast: 26 March 1973)
  3. "Eddie Returns From Holiday" (broadcast: 2 April 1973)
  4. "Lion And The Lamb" (broadcast: 9 April 1973)
  5. "The Lift" (broadcast: 16 April 1973)
  6. "Barbie Becomes Pregnant" (broadcast: 30 April 1973)
  • All written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver

Series 4 (1973–74)

  1. "Hines' Sight" (broadcast: 17 December 1973)
  2. "Friendly" (broadcast: 24 December 1973)
  3. "Working On New Year's Eve" (broadcast: 31 December 1973)
  4. "Eddie's Mother In Law" (broadcast: 7 January 1974)
  5. "The Ante-Natal Clinic" (broadcast: 14 January 1974)
  6. "Two Weeks To Babies" (broadcast: 21 January 1974)
  7. "To The Hospital" (broadcast: 28 January 1974)
  8. "The Big Day" (broadcast: 4 February 1974)
  • All written by Vince Powell and Harry Driver

Series 5 (1974)

  1. "The Mediterranean" (broadcast: 18 February 1974)
  2. "Bananas" (broadcast: 1 April 1974 - see notes, below)
  3. "Eddie's Birthday" (broadcast: 4 March 1974)
  4. "Cat's Away - Part 1" (broadcast: 11 March 1974)
  5. "Cat's Away - Part 2" (broadcast: 18 March 1974)
  6. "Ghosts" (broadcast: 25 March 1974)
  • All written by Vince Powell

Series 6 (1975)

  1. "Reggie" (broadcast: 2 January 1975)
  2. "Jacko's Wedding" (broadcast: 9 January 1975)
  3. "Duel At Dawn" (broadcast: 16 January 1975)
  4. "The Darts' Final" (broadcast: 23 January 1975)
  5. "Royal Blood" (broadcast: 30 January 1975)
  6. "Club Concert" (broadcast: 6 February 1975)
  7. "The Nannies" (broadcast: 13 February 1975)
  • All written by Vince Powell

Series 7 (1975)

  1. "Famous Crimes" (broadcast: 17 April 1975)
  2. "The Lady And The Tramp" (broadcast: 24 April 1975)
  3. "Protection Of The Law" (broadcast: 1 May 1975)
  4. "The Opinion Poll" (broadcast: 8 May 1975)
  5. "Manchester... United" (broadcast: 15 May 1975)
  6. "The T.U.C Conference '75" (broadcast: 22 May 1975)
  • Episode 1 written by Sid Colin
  • Episode 2 written by Brian Cooke
  • Episode 3 written by Jon Watkins
  • Episode 4 written by H.V. Kershaw
  • Episode 5 written by Colin Edmonds
  • Episode 6 written by George Evans and Lawrie Wyman

Series 8 (1975–76)

  1. "The Local By-Election" (broadcast: 11 December 1975)
  2. "Eddie Becomes A Father Again" (broadcast: 18 December 1975)
  3. "Christmas Spirit" (broadcast: 25 December 1975)
  4. "The Coach Outing To Bournemouth" (broadcast: 1 January 1976)
  5. "For Sale" (broadcast: 8 January 1976)
  6. "Power Cut" (broadcast: 15 January 1976)
  7. "The Lodger" (broadcast: 22 January 1976)
  • Episode 1 written by Johnny Mortimer
  • Episode 2 written by Brian Cooke
  • Episode 3 written by Sid Colin
  • Episode 4 written by Spike Mullins
  • Episode 5 written by H.V. Kershaw
  • Episode 6 written by George Evans and Lawrie Wyman
  • Episode 7 written by Adele Rose

DVD releases

Until 2016, the series' DVD releases had been somewhat muddled. Confusing earlier releases were superseded by the Love Thy Neighbour: The Complete Series nine-DVD box set from Network DVD. It includes the unscreened pilot episode, all eight series in their intended running order, the Christmas 1972 short sketch for All Star Comedy Carnival, the 1973 New Year Special and a new transfer of the 1973 feature film in its theatrical aspect ratio. It coincided with a standalone release of the feature film on Blu-ray.

Series 1–4 were originally released by Pegasus Entertainment, and Series 5–8 were released by FremantleMedia. Once Fremantle realised the issues with the DVD, it decided to completely release all the series in the correct order. The film has been released by Studiocanal. The following list shows the previous two sets of DVD releases:

The often quoted missing 'April Fool' episode does not actually exist. During the 1974 run of the show it was postponed one week which led to it running longer than intended and receiving billing in the TV Times for more weeks than it should. The Bananas episode was delayed and the Eddie's Birthday episode scheduled to be broadcast on 25 February was not actually broadcast until March 4. "Bananas" was then added onto the end of the series on April 1 where the TV Times added an April Fool reference to the description that appeared for the earlier screening. So the April Fools episode is actually Bananas which is included in the DVD set. The Coach Trip was due to be aired with series 7, but due to unknown reasons was not broadcast. It later appeared as part of series 8, with the new title The Coach Outing to Bournemouth.

The DVDs list eight series, which is now known to be accurate when Network checked through the original scripts whilst compiling the compete series DVD set. Series 4 is the pregnancy story arc and the final episodes written together by creators Vince Powell and Harry Driver. Series 5 continued to be broadcast straight after series 4, following the illness and subsequent death of co-creator Harry Driver and as such, are solely written by Powell.

After the initial Broadcast of 'The Big Day' (Series 4), in which Jack Smethhurst plays the new baby as well as himself, there was an extra film of Nina Baden-Semper and Kate Williams with their real new born babies (The reason for the pregnancy theme of the series). This extra bit was not on the Pegasus DVD, but is on the Network DVD of Series 4.

See also


  1. Walker, Rudolph (22 October 2001). "It's not black and white". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  2. Jones, Philip (28 September 1972). ""We Use More Jokes in a Week Than George Robey Used in a Lifetime!"". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  3. Malik, Sarita (2002). Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on Television. London: Sage. pp. 97–98.
  4. "Bite The Mango Film Festival 2003". The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford. 2003. Archived from the original on 14 February 2007.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. Plesske, Nora (2016). "'Sambo' and 'Snowflake': Race and Race Relations in Love Thy Neighbour". In Kamm, Jürgen; Neumann, Birgit (eds.). British TV Comedies: Cultural Concepts, Contexts and Controversies. Basingstoke & New York City: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 85–86.
  6. Schaffer, Gavin (2017). "Framing The Fosters: jokes, racism and Black and Asian voices in British comedy television". In Malik, Sarita; Newton, Darrell M. (eds.). Adjusting the Contrast: British Television and Constructs of Race. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 181.
  7. Plesske in Kamm and Neumann, p. 93
  8. Pratt, Vic (2003–14). "Love Thy Neighbour (1972-76)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  9. Clapson, Mark (2009) The Routledge Companion to Britain in the Twentieth Century, Routledge, p. 376
  10. Burrell, Ian (2 September 2003). "Life after Love Thy Neighbour". The Independent. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  11. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows - 1946-Present (2007). p. 819. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  12. Leszczak, Bob. Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide. pp. 108–110. ISBN 978-0-7864-6812-6. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
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