The BBC Story

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Till Death Us Do Part began on 6 June 1966, following a successful pilot the previous year. The sitcom, written by Johnny Speight and produced by Dennis Main Wilson, became a big success, drawing audiences of 20 million. But it was always controversial; the central character of Alf Garnett, the opinionated cockney bigot brought to life by Warren Mitchell, attracted complaints from politicians and Mary Whitehouse.

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Alf’s son-in-law, Mike, played by Tony Booth, was young, bright, unemployed, and from Liverpool, representing everything Alf hated. Speight hoped that by making Alf “pig ignorant”, his views would be exposed as ridiculous. The programme’s success translated around the world, with several versions made, such as the American version, All In the Family.

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Till Death Us Do Part was retired in 1975 but Mitchell returned ten years later with In Sickness and In Health, in which viewers discovered that Alf had not mellowed with age.