First broadcast in 1974, the ITV bedsitland sitcom Rising Damp was an instant and enduring success. It starred Leonard Rossiter as the miserly and lovelorn landlord Rigsby who is constantly needling young lodger Alan (Richard Beckinsale), a science student whose long hair and earrings are symptomatic to Rigsby of the parlous effeminacy of the modern age. He's also in love with Frances De La Tour's dowdy spinster Miss Jones, though his tentative advances are forever rebuffed. She in turn carries a torch for Philip (Don Warrington), the elegant son of an African chief... who also resides at Rigsby Towers. Some aspects of Rising Damp have not aged well, principally Rigsby's stream of racist jibes at Philip. Although these were doubtless well-meant and supposed to illustrate Rigsby's foolish bigotry, you suspect that that was a convenient cover for audiences in the 1970s to enjoy racist humour. However, Rossiter's Rigsby--stuttering, stammering, bent perpetually over backwards--remains a great comic creation, embodying all the festering prejudices, small-mindedness and self-delusion of the lower middle class Little Englander. --David Stubbs [show more]
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