Heil Honey I'm Home!
|Heil Honey I'm Home!|
|Written by||Geoff Atkinson|
|Directed by||Juliet May|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||11 (10 unaired)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Jackson|
|Original release||30 September 1990|
Heil Honey I'm Home! is a British sitcom, written by Geoff Atkinson and produced in 1990, which was cancelled after one episode. It centres on fictionalised versions of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, who live next door to a Jewish couple, Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. The show spoofs elements of mid-20th century American sitcoms and is driven by Hitler's inability to get along with his neighbours. It caused controversy when broadcast and has been called "perhaps the world's most tasteless situation comedy".
The first episode opens with a caption card explaining Heil Honey's fictional back-story: it supposedly comprises the rediscovered "lost tapes" of an abandoned, never-aired American sitcom created by "Brandon Thalburg Jnr".
In 1937, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun live in Berlin, next door to a Jewish couple, Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. Hitler and Braun have little in common with their historical counterparts, acting more like a stock sitcom husband and wife. Hitler, for example, appears in a golfing sweater and cravat as well as military garb. The Goldensteins are similarly hackneyed characters. The show is a spoof—not of the Third Reich, but of the sort of sitcoms produced in the United States between the 1950s and 1970s "that would embrace any idea, no matter how stupid". In this spirit the title, plot and dialogue are deliberately vapid and corny and characters are applauded whenever they arrive on set. Patterned after I Love Lucy, the actors have New York accents.
The plot of the first episode centres on the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain coming to the Hitler house. Not wanting the Goldensteins to interrupt the visit, Hitler instructs Braun to keep the news from Rosa, which she fails to do. Rosa duly invites herself over with hopes of matching Chamberlain with her dull niece Ruth. Hitler gets the Goldensteins drunk in an attempt to make them leave before Chamberlain arrives, but they stay. Arny and Eva end up leading the visiting Prime Minister in a conga line around the living room while Hitler hides the "peace for our time" agreement in the icebox.
Only the pilot was ever screened, although eleven episodes were planned and a number were recorded in which a story arc involved the Hitler's secretive attempts to kill the Goldensteins without the Goldensteins knowing.
- Neil McCaul as Adolf Hitler
- DeNica Fairman as Eva Braun (replaced by Maria Friedman in unaired episodes)
- Gareth Marks as Arny Goldenstein
- Lewis Barratt as Joseph Stalin (character only appeared in unaired episodes)
- Caspar Wallace as Background Narrator (exclusive to episode 4)
- Caroline Gruber as Rosa Goldenstein
- Laura Brattan as Ruth
- Thomas Lord as Hermann Göring (only in unaired 1990 Christmas special)
- Ben Boardman as Reinhard Heydrich (character removed from show after episode 6)
- Patrick Cargill as Neville Chamberlain
Production, controversy and cancellation
The programme was written by Geoff Atkinson and commissioned by the satellite television channel Galaxy, part of British Satellite Broadcasting (which later became part of BSkyB). It was shown at 9.30pm on a Sunday night, after an episode of Dad's Army. During the credits of Dad's Army, Galaxy's announcer said "And unless Arthur Lowe defeats him, it's the man himself in a few moments in Heil Honey, I'm Home!, as the Galaxy Comedy Weekend continues."
The programme proved controversial, with Hayim Pinner, secretary general of the Board of Deputies of British Jews describing the pilot as "in very bad taste", adding that: "We are against any trivialisation of the Second World War, Hitler or the Holocaust, and this certainly trivialises those things. It's very distasteful and even offensive".
The television historian Marian Calabro described it as "perhaps the world's most tasteless situation comedy". It was accused of crassly trivialising Nazism, although some have defended it as being in the same tradition of Third Reich parodies such as 'Allo 'Allo! and Hogan's Heroes, or along similar lines to the portrayal of Hitler as a domestic fool in The Producers. Some also point out the crassness was intentional, and part of the parody anyway. For instance, David Hawkes (professor of English) cites Heil Honey, I'm Home! as a "heavy-handed concept", and argues that the show was a failure as a comedy because it "disastrously exceeded" the limits of irony.
Only the pilot was ever screened, although eight episodes were planned and a number were recorded in which a story arc was about Adolf and Eva's attempt to kill the Goldensteins without the Goldensteins knowing it is Adolf and Eva. A video called "GARETH MARKS COMEDY SHOWREEL" contains clips from unshown episodes. Arthur Mathews has said that the production company sent him a copy of the entire series. The filming of the series was cancelled immediately by Sky (BSkyB) on its acquisition of British Satellite Broadcasting. The show is one of the most controversial programmes ever to have been screened in the UK; it was listed at #61 on Channel 4's 100 Greatest TV Moments from Hell.
Geoff Atkinson maintains that the aim of the show was not to shock, but to examine the appeasement surrounding Hitler in 1938. He concedes that the satire of this appeasement did not translate as well as he intended. Discussing the furore around the show, Atkinson has also stated that three quarters of the cast were Jewish and did not consider the concept controversial.
- Lewisohn, Mark. "Comedy Guide: Heil Honey I'm Home!". BBC. Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
- The Rise and Rise of the Independents: A Television History, Ian Potter Guerilla Books, 2008, page 151
- The Fuehrer in Britain : New Satellite Service Pins Its Hopes on 'Dangerous' Hitler Sitcom, Jeff Kaye, Los Angeles Times, 23 October 1990
- Zap! A Brief History of Television, Marian Calabro, Four Winds Press, 1992, (p. 150). ISBN 0027162427
- The Listener, Volume 124, BBC, 1990
- "GARETH MARKS COMEDY SHOWREEL", DailyMotion
- Hitler: The Comedy Years by Jacques Perreti (Channel 4, 2007)
- Heil Honey I'm Home Full Uncut Episode, YouTube, 8 May 2012
- David Hawkes, "British Contemporary Comedy", in Comedy: A Geographic and Historical Guide, edited by Maurice Charney. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005 (p. 197). ISBN 0-313-32714-9
- "GARETH MARKS COMEDY SHOWREEL", DailyMotion
- Are You Right There Father Ted? (Commentary Track). Arthur Mathews. Channel 4. 2007 . Channel 4.
- "British Sitcom Guide - Heil Honey I'm Home". The British Sitcom Guide. 2007.
- "Charts, News and Reviews of Blu-rays, DVDs, Games, CDs, Hardware, Laserdiscs, Cinema Films & more". DVDfever.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- "Curious British Telly - Heil Honey I'm Home". Curious British Telly. 2013.