I fear more laughed Alf Garnett than at
IF WARREN Mitchell’s Alf Garnett had lived in the modern age, what a first-rate Twitter troll he would have been. True, Alf was a Luddite. If he had lived today, he would have been more megaphone than smartphone. And yet, although it probably would have taken a lot of persuasion by his “long haired git” of a son-in-law to own a mobile, it sure- ly wouldn’t have been long before Alf’s fingers enthusiastically took to jabbing out racist, misogynistic, homophobic, antisemitic missives to the world.
Eventually, Alf would have loved it. And just like Johnny Speight’s admittedly brilliant sitcom, Alf’s Twitter account would have had an enormous, vocal and somewhat sinister following. Though, as with the TV series, not all of them would have been the kind of followers that would have made Mitchell — Jewish, atheist and socialist down to the marrow of his Stoke Newing- Racist? But actor Warren Mitchell and writer Johnny Speight made Till Death Us Do Part a work of comic genius ton-born bones — proud.
And it is this that undermines the case — made most recently after Mitchell’s death last week – that Till Death Us Do Part worked best as a satire against bigotry, rather than a mouthpiece for it.
Not that Mitchell’s performance, or Speight’s writing, was anything less than inspired. It was, after all, a fantastically accurate portrayal of a certain kind of bloke who was brimful of a particular brand of xenophobic, bad tempered opinion. But while many of us were laughing at him, many others were