Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tuesday 16 July 1963

Despite Mrs Scott's dire warnings that he's playing unnatural games with nature, Hugh's acquired a pair of chest expanders to improve his physique, and behind the opening credits we see him working out while Terry, not especially bothered about his physique, enjoys a fag.  Terry does his best to distract the would-be muscleman, even giving his biceps a good feel.  Hugh lifts a chair in the air to show off his increased strength. "Are you gonna do that often?" asks an unimpressed Terry.

Thanks to the arrival of sexy next door neighbour Norma we never find out where this might be going.  She needs help mending a fuse and, each of the chaps desperate to impress her, they both head next door to assist.  Terry's undignified scramble on to the kitchen worksurface and subsequent dizzy spell are less than impressive, as is the fall which causes him to put his foot right through the kitchen sink.

Norma's mother Mrs Crispin is understandably distraught at this orgy of destruction ("You charming great 'nana!" is her husband's oath of choice), and Terry agrees to pay for a replacement sink.  In a strange foreshadowing of the actress's most famous role, Mollie Sugden's Mrs Crispin insists that local plumbers Slocombe's are employed to plumb it in.  Terry scoffs at the extravagant prices and substandard service of Slocombe's and insists he and Hugh can plumb it in themselves.  Strangely, the Crispins seem less than convinced.

The hapless pair acquire a sink unit, but it proves to be a lot heavier than expected, and plays merry havoc with poor Terry's back, meaning Hugh has to give him an impromptu back rub.  It's startlingly erotic stuff.

Unfortunately, once this bit of fun's over, Hugh and Terry find the sink's vanished.  In actual fact it's on its way to Leeds in a removal van, the shifters having taken it away by accident.  Our heroes head for the police station, where they encounter a befuddled, episode-stealing Deryck Guyler behind the desk (in a premonition of the role he'd make his own in Sykes.)

The desk sergeant starts off unsurprisingly sceptical of Hugh and Terry's tale of the vanishing sink, but eventually becomes scrupulously diligent in recording the details of the missing unit, almost to the point of mania: "There could be half a dozen sinks going up the Great North Road - we don't want to waste time stopping the wrong one, do we?"

The episode's surreal highlight comes when the three are all unable to think of the right name for a mixer tap. "Centre Union" is Hugh's suggestion, but the sergeant doesn't like it: "No, sounds too political."  "Swan's neck?" offers Terry, to slightly more approval: "Oh, that's nice, Sir.  Yes, very nice.  It's a bit poetic though, don't you think?"

It's all getting too much for an increasingly exasperated Terry: "Tell me," he despairs, "Have you got another branch near?"

By some miraculous means we're not privy to, they eventually get the sink back, dragging it to the Crispin household late in the evening.  Plumbing it in's not going to be an easy matter: not least because the Crispins' enormous "washing-up machine" is blocking its way into the kitchen.  "What do you need a sink for if you've got a washing-up machine?" cries Terry.  "You don't think I'm putting dirty dishes in my washing-up machine!" is Mrs Crispin's eminently sensible response.  I'll only ever refer to dishwashers as washing-up machines from now on.

"If your kitchen wasn't full of status symbols we could get somewhere!" harrumphs Terry.  The seemingly dim Norma proves herself the most sensible of the lot by being the only person to realise the sink unit can be taken to bits.  Things continue to go less than smoothly though, with Hugh sending the electrics haywire.

With no electricity in their home the Crispins are forced to dine with the Scotts, which gives Mrs Crispin the perfect opportunity to bitch about Terry's mum's pastry.  After dinner Hugh manages to burst the Scotts' water pipe, drenching Terry and a wrathful Mr Crispin in water...

A Sink of Iniquity is enormous fun, the cast and the frenetic slapstick all incredibly endearing.  Sadly it's the last Hugh and I that I'll be writing about this year - though there are a couple of episodes for you to look forward to next year...

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