The Worm that Turned

The image below popped up via a retweet on my twitter feed the other day. It’s not the kind of thing I’d usually feature here. It’s more than a little silly. If there is a female led revolution, I doubt it’ll be done in uncomfortable and impractical fetish gear designed to appeal to men. However, there was something about that middle segment of the image that caught my eye and stirred some long dormant brain cells.

Many, many years ago there was a British comedy duo called The Two Ronnies. In the 70’s and 80’s they fronted a sketch show and at the time were probably the most famous comedy pairing in England. They often did short serial stories as part of their show, and the one they did in 1980 was called ‘The Worm that Turned‘. Obviously riffing on 70’s feminism and the first female Prime Minister, it was spoof sci-fi, set in 2012, that had women running the world and men in frocks staying home to do the housework. The secret police, enforcing this new world order, were the fetish clad women shown in this clip (@ 1:52) and in the image below.

I should make clear that all the detail above is not from memory, but from me researching it tonight. I was probably around 7 years old when I watched it, and I’m pretty certain I haven’t watched it again in the last 35 or so years. Some comedy from that era has aged well (e.g. Monty Python or The Young Ones), but this now looks terribly dated and sexist. That said, while I remembered almost nothing else about it, those black clad marching women obviously made a strong impression on the young paltego. Enough at least that I could jump back almost four decades from a fuzzy third of an image to the relevant youtube clip in just a few searches. I had zero idea about sex or kink as a kid, but clearly the wiring was already in place.

I wonder if the image creator was aware of the kind of source material he was drawing from? I’m guessing most of the twitter commentators on the image aren’t.

Author: paltego

See the 'about' page if you really want to know about me.

10 thoughts on “The Worm that Turned”

  1. Ah! I remember this very well (I’m older than you and watched it avidly), I was a big fan of the Two Ronnies and always thought they were considerably better than the other big British comedy duo of the time, Morecambe and Wise. Someone on the 2R show, I suspect Ronnie B given his other output, was a big fan of female bottoms and to a lesser extent spanking. And yes they could be sexist and indeed racist but then almost every show was in the seventies and early eighties. I’m referring to UK shows as I didn’t have access to US shows in those days but I don’t imagine the US shows of the period were any better. Personally I don’t think Monty Python has aged at all well (the TV show not the films which have aged well) and they were often incredibly sexist.

    1. I was always a big fan of the two Ronnies, both the show and the two actors themselves. When I said ‘this’ looks dated and sexist I was particularly referring to this mini-series, not the show in general. Ronnie B was particularly talented – Porridge is a classic show from a similar era. I was going to put some links to their more classic sketches at the end of the post, but a lot of them required context from the time, or British slang that wouldn’t translate well to most readers.

      I never really watched Morecambe and Wise when they were originally on, but in looking back (and spending a happy hour or two on youtube!), I actually think some of there stuff has aged better than 2Rs. For example, the Andre Previn skit they did still makes me laugh our loud, where the 2R sketches just raise a smile.

      Have to disagree on Monty Python however. I say that because there are so many people in the US – of all ages – who know and still quote the sketches. Spanish Inquisition, Cheese Shop, Dead Parrot, Argument sketch, etc. British shows don’t get a great deal of penetration into the US, and certainly not old comedy shows from the 70’s, but that one somehow still endures and makes new fans. Of course there was also a hell of a lot of dross in the series that you had to suffer through to get to the good bits!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      -paltego

      1. My dear paltego,
        you forgot to mention the unforgettable Dennis ‘Stand and deliver your lupins!’ Moore and the Dirty Vicar. The latter still rather relevant in these times of #metoo.

        Wish you all a very nice weekend.

        1. I actually had forgotten those ones! In fact I’m not sure I’d seen the original dirty vicar sketch. Fortunately, youtube is always there to help. I’m guessing they were riffing on Jeckll and Hyde, but sadly appropriate for #metoo. Funny sketches, although I’m not sure they entered mainstream culture in quite the same way some of there more well known ones did.

          -paltego

  2. here is a completely useless piece of trivia for you then – the worm that turned was originally not a comedy sketch at all, it was originally written as a doctor who story for Pat Troughton, I remember reading an article on it a few years back in the DW magazine … go figure!

    1. That would have been a really weird Doctor Who story. Got to guess (hope!) the tone and casting would have been dramatically different! Thanks for sharing that bit of trivia!

      -paltego

  3. I loved in Porridge. Thank you so much for reminding me.

    You know, I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in my misspent youth and I formed this picture of George Smiley in my head. I loved that story. Still do. Than came the BBC series. Alec Guinness was ok-ish, but much too good looking, much too tall and far too aristocratic. Too much cool and not enough sweat, one might say. It never felt right to me.
    Than, one day I saw this sketch with Ronny Barker, made up to look like Alec Guinness playing George Smiley … and that was perfect! He fitted my mental image of George Smiley like a glove.
    There was a lesson there and I took it to heart: Never ever watch the movie or the series after enjoying the book(s). And don’t read the book(s) after watching the movie or the series. And steer clear of parochial remakes of great BBC originals, like House of Cards.

    And thank you for bringing ‘The Worm that Turned‘ to my attention. I just watched the clips. Very, very funny. As to the squads of fierce ladies in fetish gear … My Mistress Titia has a tendency to dress up in similar fashion, when she is in a dangerous mood.

    Regards.

    1. I’m now very tempted to re-watch porridge again now. Such a good series.

      I think weirdly I saw the picture of Alec Guinness as Smiley before I read the book of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But then I read the book before I actually watched the series. So I had him in mind, and it all kind of fitted together for me. I can see Ronnie Barker in the role. He’d definitely deliver a much more down to earth and realistic version, which’d fit the books better. Of course the most recent version had Gary Oldman as Smiley, which seems equally far from the original character.

      Glad you enjoyed the ‘Worm that Turned’. Definitely of it’s time, and pretty dated, but still has some nice moments. And it’s always fun watching the comic timing of either of the two Ronnies.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. Haven’t heard from you for a while. Hope you and Mistress Titia are well!

      -paltego

  4. I’m fine, paltego. Thank you.

    My dad has always been a big fan of Monty Python. I’ve always been more of a Fowlty Towers kind of girl, after the enjoying the reruns by Dutch public broadcasters.
    Before I was born – in ’75 – he got into the habit of mumbling “Storage Jars”; sighing, shaking his head and roling his eyes, when radio, tele or written media were too full of insufferable drivel and dross and sounds and fury, signifying next to nothing or worse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *