A forgotten Seventies sitcom oddity, which originally attracted the ire of clean-up TV campaigners for its risqué content, is to be released on DVD next month.
Casanova ’73, which starred Leslie Philips as a promiscuous middle-aged man, was targeted by Mary Whitehouse when it first aired on BBC1.
The Carry On-style bedroom farce had a strong pedigree, having been written by Hancock and Steptoe and Son creators Ray Galton and Alan Simpson – and was inspired by Dennis Potter’s more serious Casanova TV serial.
However campaigners criticised the bawdy comedy as being unsuitable for prime-time, and eventually BBC One controller Alasdair Milne - who would go on to become director-general – bowed to pressure and shifted it to a late-night slot, before cancelling it completely.
But the move made a hit of the show that replaced it, Mastermind, which had previously languished in late nights – and host Magnus Magnusson later made a point of thanking Philips for the break.
In the show Phillips stars as the feckless Henry Newhouse – his surname being a translation of the Italian Casa Nova – making advances to a series of women including an air hostess, a beauty pageant contestant and a stripper turned fire-eater.
In one astonishing episode, Newhouse's niece, played by Madeline Smith, approaches him before her wedding as she is worried about her sexual inexperience – so wants her uncle to take away her virginity. Thankfully, he declines.
One unmade script, in which Henry took his long-suffering partner Carol to a wife=swapping party, was later used in the 1977 ITV series The Galton & Simpson Playhouse, where Richard Briers played Henry.
The DVD rights to the show have been bought by Acorn Media, which is releasing the full series on October 8. The two-disc set also includes interviews with Phillips, Galton and Simpson. Click here to pre-order it.
Here is a clip: