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Opening Title Card
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||89|
|Original network||Seven Network|
|Original release||30 January 1980– 1 September 1984|
Kingswood Country is an Australian sitcom that screened from 1980 to 1984 on the Seven Network. The series started on 30 January 1980 and was a spin-off from a sketch on comedy program The Naked Vicar Show that had featured Ross Higgins as a blustering bigot. It was produced by RS Productions.
While some condemned its racist and sexist humour, this was simply the plot device, and indeed the premise of the entire show, to show and mock the bigotry of the main character, Edward Melba "Ted" Bullpitt (Ross Higgins), a white Australian, conservative, bigoted, Holden Kingswood-loving putty factory worker and WWII veteran who recalls his difficult childhood in ever more exaggerated ways.
He lives for three things: his beloved chair in front of the TV, his unsuccessful racing greyhounds Repco Lad & Gae Akubra and his worshipped Holden Kingswood car (late in the show's run Ted traded-in the Kingswood, which had gone out of production around the time the series began, for Holden's replacement mid-range family car, the Commodore). His long-suffering wife, the vague and dithering Thelma (Judi Farr), was cast as a traditional housewife trapped by Ted's conservative family views, but she often got her own back on Ted (this often included using old Myer receipts she had hidden in a drawer used to fool Ted into thinking she paid less for a new item, often clothes, than she really had).
Ted's Kingswood is never shown on any episode.
Humour was generated by the conflict of Ted's traditional views and his children's progressive nature. For example, his son Craig (Peter Fisher) is portrayed as a sexually rampant medical student and is referred to as an "Al Grassby Groupie", a reference to a flamboyant Australian Labor Party politician of the Whitlam era. His daughter, Greta (Laurel McGowan), is portrayed as a feminist and is married to Bruno (Lex Marinos), the son of Italian immigrants, to which Ted strongly objects (often referring to him as a "bloody wog"). Other politically incorrect humour includes Ted's references to Neville, the concrete Aboriginal garden statue.
At other times, humour was based on the more traditional comedic methods of poorly thought-out schemes of Ted's (usually get-rich-quick); class differences (between the suburban Bullpitts and Ted's 'Datsun dealer' brother Bob and his upwardly-mobile wife Merle) and simple misunderstandings leading to a chain of humorous events.
The series reflected the changing culture of Australia through Ted's inability to accept this change from traditional culture to multiculturalism, from basic to advanced education levels and from conservative to more liberal politics.
Several elements of the show, and indeed the overall premise and the character types of the show, were similar to British sitcom Til Death Us Do Part. Coincidentally, just as the wife character in Til Death Us Do Part left the series before its end, so too did Thelma in Kingswood Country when Judi Farr decided to leave the series. Her absence was explained in the story by having Thelma going on an extended cruise, with Bruno's mother Rosa (Sheila Kennelly) moving in to look after Ted. Thelma much later sent word she would not be returning to Ted.
Guest stars in the series included Graham Kennedy, Robert Hughes, Noeline Brown, Cornelia Frances, Ray Meagher, Henri Szeps and Bruce Spence. The show won the Most Popular Comedy Award in 1981 and 1982 at the Logies.
Played by Ross Higgins. Ted, full name Edward Melba Bullpitt is the main character of the series. He is racist and sexist and has a particular hatred (and fear) of Catholics. Ted was part of a kitchen unit captured by the Italians in World War Two. His favourite thing, over his wife and family, is his Holden Kingswood. He also enjoys reading the comic Mandrake, sitting in his chair in front of the television, either while reading the paper or with his tanket of beer as well as tending to his greyhounds(Gayakubra and Repcolad). Ted is known as "Big Bum Bullpitt" to the students and Nuns (teachers) at the local catholic school St Joseph's. He is also afraid of the Nuns, though seems to like Sister Maria as she also likes beer.
According to Ted he is a descendant of Lord Stokely Bullpitt of Kingswood who died in 1786 as he fell from his horse during a nun hunt. His only son was illegitimate so therefore could not claim his father's title. That son married an Italian kitchen maid named Maria Bertalucci - an ancestor of Bruno. The title was first bestowed by Henry VIII to a man whom he gave a large section of his forest or the King's Wood, hence the title.
Played by Judi Farr. Thelma, known as "Thel" for short is Ted's wife and mother of Craig and Greta. She often answers the telephone with catch phrases in the hope of winning the latest prize from TV Week or whatever competition is currently running on the radio. Thelma also keeps a drawer full of old receipts to show Ted after buying expensive items from Myer (she simply held her fingers over the date and waved the receipt at him showing a small purchase). Thelma gave very specific advice on how to perform everyday chores - for example, making coffee or tea "You'll have to add hot water dear, otherwise it'll be a bit dry".
Played by Peter Fisher. Craig is Ted's only son. He is a medical student and later in the series marries his girlfriend Wendy.
Played by Laurel McGowan. Greta is Ted's only daughter and is married to Bruno Bertolucci.
Played by Lex Marinos. Bruno is Ted's son-in-law and is married to Greta. Drives a purple Valiant which is often a sore point with the Holden loving Ted. Bruno takes great delight in poking fun at Ted but affectionately calls Thelma 'Mrs B' and has sympathy with her for having to put up with Ted.
Played by Colin McEwan. Ted's brother. Bob, is a used car salesman, often referred to as a 'Bloody Datsun dealer' by Ted. He has a love hate relationship with both Ted and his wife Merle and insults are often traded, though he does have a soft spot for Thelma.
Played by Maggie Dence. Ted's upwardly mobile sister-in-law and is married to his brother Bob. Seems to dislike both Bob and Ted and often insults them both, although she gets on well with her sister-in-law despite Thelma's sometimes vague nature.
Played by Sheila Kennelly, After Ted's wife Thelma leaves come's to look after hapless Ted, she defines herself as a happy-go-lucky wog.
The series has spawned some catchphrases such as:
- "Don't 'Dad' me boy/girl, I'm your father!". "Don't 'Mum and Dad' us boy/girl, we're your parents" was also used.
- "Pickle me grandmother!"
- [when surprised from behind] "Give a man a heart attack!"
- "Strike me Catholic!"
- [when someone asks to drink his beer] "Money on the fridge!". Sometimes changed to "Money on the fridge Wog!" when Bruno asked Ted for a beer.
- "Somebody/someone should blow [current object of annoyance] up!" e.g. "Someone should blow those Nuns up!"
- "The Kingswood! You're not taking the Kingswood!..." [insert far-fetched excuse] e.g. "I've just ducoed the tyres" or "I've just glad-wrapped the aerial!" or "I've just Mr Sheened the number-plate!"
- "When I was a boy... " [insert long-winded, far-fetched story] Always responded to with "Yeah, yeah sure Ted/Dad."
- "Hate, hate, vomit!"
- [when asked how his day went] "Bloody shambles, of course!"
- [the universal insult for a miserable, miserly old man] "Grumblebum!"
- [in response to someone mishearing his surname] "No, everyone says that. Its Bull-PITT". Also said often by Thelma when talking on the phone.
- "Where's the bloody Kingswood?"
- "Attila the Nun"
- "Bloody Wogs!"
- "Bloody woman!"
- "Blow 'em all up!"
- "Watch it mate!"
- "No wonder the country's in a mess"
- "I win, you lose, and I'm the king of the castle"
- "Bloody Nuns"
A 'Best Of' DVD was released in 2003 featuring 13 out of the 89 episodes as well as the original skit on The Naked Vicar Show that spawned the series. A second 'Best Of' featuring an additional 13 episodes was also released in 2006. Then in September 2008 a third best of set was released. On 12 May 2010 The Best Of Kingswood Country Volume 4 was released with another 13 episodes, which will mean that 52 out of 89 episodes will be available on DVD commercially.
A spin-off to the series was the short-lived, much panned Bullpitt! in 1997. Of the original show's cast only Ross Higgins had a regular role. Elaine Lee co-starred. A Best Of Set was released in September 2008.