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Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
File:Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.jpg
Created byRaymond Allen
Written byRaymond Allen (20 episodes, 1973–78)
Michael Crawford (7 episodes, 1978)
Directed byMichael Mills (1973, plus two specials)
Sydney Lotterby (1975)
StarringMichael Crawford
Michele Dotrice
Theme music composerRonnie Hazlehurst
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series3 (plus 3 Christmas Specials and 1 Sport Relief Special)
No. of episodes23
ProducersMichael Mills (13 episodes, 1973, plus 2 specials)
Sydney Lotterby (7 episodes, 1978)
Running time30 minutes (per episode)
Original networkBBC1
Picture format625-line PAL (1973–78)
1080i HDTV (2016)
Audio formatMonaural (1973–78)
Surround sound 5.1 (2016)
Original releaseOriginal Series
15 February 1973 –
25 December 1978
Sport Relief Special
18 March 2016 [1]

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Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em is a British sitcom created and written by Raymond Allen and starring Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice. It was first broadcast in 1973 and ran for three series, ending in 1978, and returning briefly in 2016 for a one off special. The series follows the accident-prone Frank Spencer and his tolerant wife, Betty, through Frank's various attempts to hold down a job, which frequently end in disaster. The sitcom was filmed in and around the town of Bedford in Bedfordshire. It was noted for its stuntwork, performed by Crawford himself, as well as featuring various well-remembered and much lampooned catchphrases, that have become part of popular culture. In a 2004 poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom, Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em came 22nd.


The expression "Some mothers do have them" is meant to refer to someone clumsy or foolish.

The character of Frank Spencer[]

The wimpish, smiling Frank, sporting his trademark beret and trench coat, is married to the apparently normal Betty (Michele Dotrice) and in later series they have a baby daughter, Jessica. The character was popular with television impressionists such as Mike Yarwood in the 1970s, particularly his main catchphrase, "Ooh Betty", which is only ever said in one episode: series 2, episode 2.

"Ooh Betty ..." is not Frank's only catchphrase of the series. Others include a quavering "Oooh ...", usually uttered with his forefinger to his mouth as he stands amidst the chaos of some disaster he has just caused (and which he himself has invariably escaped unscathed). He also sometimes complains about being "ha-RASSed!", or occasionally, "I've had a lot of ha-RASSments lately" (originally an American pronunciation). Other recurring catchphrases include references to "a bit of trouble", which usually implies some sort of undisclosed digestive disorder, and to the cat having "done a whoopsie" (presumably a euphemism for having defecated in an inappropriate place, on one occasion in Spencer's beret). If Frank is pleased (or confused) about something, he will often use the catchphrase "Mmmm — nice!" or "Ohhh — nice!"

Despite his unfailing ability to infuriate people, Frank is essentially a very sympathetic character, who inspires much affection from his ever-loving and patient wife, Betty. He also venerates the memory of his late mother (Jessica Spencer) and worships his daughter (also named Jessica).

The final series was written by Allen based on stories by Michael Crawford (not written by Crawford himself as sometimes reported) and made five years after the previous one (although there had been two Christmas specials in between). Frank's character changes noticeably in this series, becoming more self-aware and keen to make himself appear more educated and well-spoken. He develops an air of pomposity which is always best demonstrated when someone would approach and enquire "Mr Spencer?" to which he would always reply, "I am he." He also becomes more self-assured, and much more willing to argue back when criticised, and often wins arguments by leaving his opponents dumbfounded by the bizarreness of what he would say.

File:Some Mothers Do Ave Em 1.jpg

Michael Crawford and Michelle Dotrice, Frank and Betty Spencer

Acknowledging the show's success in Australia, the final series saw him begin talk of having relations there, and contemplating emigrating.

Crawford himself has talked of how he based many of Frank's reactions on those of a young child. Crawford also found it difficult to break out of the public association with the role, despite his later career as a hugely successful musical performer on the West End and Broadway stage, in popular shows such as Barnum and The Phantom of the Opera.

File:James Cossins.jpg

Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em, was known for its numerous guest roles by well-known actors, including James Cossins


Ronnie Barker and Norman Wisdom were the BBC's first and second choices for the role of Frank. However the casting of Crawford proved effective, as many of Frank's mannerisms and turns of phrase were invented by the actor, and his stunt-performing and singing skills were undoubtedly useful.

Guest appearances[]

In addition to Frank and Betty, most episodes would introduce at least one other character (a doctor, a neighbour, an employer, etc.) who would be seen to gradually suffer the inevitably chaotic consequences of Frank's fleeting presence in their lives. These characters were often played by some of the great recognisable character actors of the era, including George Baker, James Cossins, Peter Jeffrey, Richard Wilson, Fulton Mackay, Bernard Hepton, Christopher Timothy and Elisabeth Sladen (who, in her autobiography, mentions that she was considered for the role of Betty). A pre-Minder Glynn Edwards appeared in more than two episodes as Frank and Betty's irascible new neighbour, Mr Lewis, while a pre-Bread Jean Boht appeared in two episodes as Mrs Lewis. One regular character in the early series was Frank's long suffering mother-in-law Mrs. Fisher, played by Jane Hylton and Frank's local catholic priest, Father O'Hara, who was played by Cyril Luckham. Australian actor and comedian Dick Bentley appeared in three of the last four episodes broadcast, as Frank's Australian grandfather.

Theme tune[]

File:Some Mothers Do Ave Em 2.jpg

Frank Spencer sporting his trademark beret with broadcaster David Jacobs

The theme tune by Ronnie Hazlehurst features a piccolo spelling out the title in Morse code, excluding the apostrophes.[2]

[•••] [― ― ―] [― ―] [•]/ [― ―] [― ― ―] [―] [••••] [•] [•―•] [•••]/ [―••] [― ― ―]/ [•―] [•••―] [•]/ [•] [― ―] /[•―•―•―] 
[S]   [o]     [m]   [e]/ [m]   [o]     [t] [h]    [e] [r]   [s]  / [d]   [o]    / [a]  [v]    [e]/ [e] [m]   /(full stop)


Series One (Early 1973)[]

Title Airdate Description Notes
"Getting a Job" (aka "The Job Interview") 15 February 1973 Newly married Frank and Betty are due to move into their new flat, but are currently living with Betty's mother, Mrs Fisher. Betty has bought Frank a new briefcase for his impending job interview at Lewis & Co.'s ironmongers for the position of area sales manager. With Betty's advice of remembering to smile, Frank turns up at his interview later than expected, after getting stuck in a lift. When he finally meets the general manager, Mr Lewis, he causes him a lot of frustration. By the end of the interview, Mr Lewis is on the verge of a breakdown. The initial shot of the postman delivering the present that Betty has got for Frank's interview is of 2 Hemlock Road, White City, W12.

Herne Bay in Kent feature in this episode where Frank (Michael Crawford) arrives at a shop for a job interview.[3]

"George's House" 22 February 1973 Frank and Betty are invited to stay the weekend at Betty's brother George's electronically designed home. George receives a visit from Mr Fletcher, a house builder, who may well offer George's employer an order worth thousands of pounds if he likes the equipment, but after Frank loses his slippers down the toilet and ruins it, trouble begins to brew. The situation worsens when the cistern starts to leak and the water ends up interfering with the house's electrical systems, causing George's electronic gadgets to become uncontrollable and Betty and Frank to damage the electric control system, which then sets the house on fire..
"Love Thy Neighbour" 1 March 1973 Betty's mother turns up at the Spencer household unexpectedly, suitcase in hand, after leaving her husband and collapses on their couch. Betty feels that Dr Smedley should be contacted, and Frank is the one left to do it, but with the phone box out of action, he pays a visit to his new neighbour, Mr Faraday. Frank calls Dr Smedley but gives him Mr Faraday's address rather his own, and causes a misunderstanding. After all the confusion, Frank locks himself out of the house, and once again has to trouble Mr Faraday, this time for the use of his ladder. First appearance of Dr Smedley, the family doctor.
"Have a Break, Take a Husband" (aka "Hotel") 8 March 1973 As a second honeymoon, Frank and Betty decide to take a trip to a very old fashioned hotel owned by Mr Bedford. Things get off to a bad start when Frank very nearly misses the train and has to run after it down the platform. After arriving at their hotel, Frank takes it upon himself to make a few adjustments to the broken room, which eventually result in their lino getting torn, a broken wardrobe and a hole in their floor. Meanwhile, across the landing, another guest, Kenny, is having difficulty getting to sleep between the noises coming from the Spencers' destroyed room and his furniture disappearing. Property that was allegedly damaged included two holes in the floor/ceiling, a lino, a painting, drawers and a wardrobe. After the episode, the hotel closed down the room for ten days for a renovation. Scenes were filmed in Herne Bay in Kent including the train station and Carlton Hotel. Interior scenes with the hotel room is filmed in the studios.[3]
"The Hospital Visit" 15 March 1973 Frank's been fending for himself with Betty in hospital, and has just had a spot of bother with a steak and kidney pudding (which explodes). Now he's off to visit her, but is the recovery ward ready for him?
"The Psychiatrist" 22 March 1973 After being relieved of his job as a member of a fire crew, Frank feels that he is a failure. Betty thinks that he should go and see someone who would understand his situation. He goes to see Mr Webster, a psychiatrist who tries his best to get to the root of Frank's problem.
"The Employment Exchange" 29 March 1973 Having lost his latest job as a window cleaner, Frank ends up back at the employment exchange, where new manager Mr Bradshaw insists that he can be employed. Bradshaw takes Frank on as an employee around the building, but soon begins to regret it.

Series Two (Late 1973)[]

Title Airdate Description Notes
"Cliffhanger" 22 November 1973 Frank's latest job includes a company car which he and Betty use to go on a picnic. Things start out well enough until Frank manages to reverse the car halfway over the edge of the cliff.
"The RAF Reunion" 29 November 1973 Frank attends his annual RAF reunion and reflects on his past experiences. This episode contains flashbacks of Frank's past.
"The Public Relations Course" 6 December 1973 Having lost yet another job Betty suggests Frank try out a course in public relations training. Frank heads off to the school run by Mr Watson, a very experienced public relations expert, who is confident he can make Frank a success but Frank proves too much even for him.
"Frank and Marvin" 13 December 1973 Frank discovers he is going to be a father and determines to make a success of his new job at a holiday camp as an entertainer. His act includes a very poor ventriloquist act, bad jokes about kangaroos, an interesting rendition of "Early One Morning" and a human volcano act, which he manages to set off by accident.
"Father's Clinic" 20 December 1973 In preparation for parenthood Betty has been looking after two young children from the neighbourhood and she convinces Frank to come along on one of their outings. The girls seem wary of Frank at first but his accident prone ways which they find hilarious soon wins them over. This episode involves an elaborate stunt when Frank, who is roller skating at a rink, manages to burst through the fire exit and on a hellish journey through the streets, dodging buses and cars, ducking under lorries and crashing into a baby shop.[4]
"The Baby Arrives" 27 December 1973 Frank is worrying about his impending fatherhood and is starting to annoy the hospital staff with his constant false alarms. The doctors tell the Spencers that they have another week to go but that night baby Spencer has other ideas. With their doctor on holiday another one is drafted in, the same one whose car Frank reversed into earlier that day. Birth and first appearance of Jessica, Frank's daughter.

1974 and 1975 Christmas specials[]

Title Airdate Description Notes
"Jessica's First Christmas" 25 December 1974 Frank gets involved in the church's nativity play, much against Father O'Hara's wishes — and with predictably disastrous results.
"Learning to Drive" 25 December 1975 After being fired from his job as a Christmas pixie, Frank receives a letter from the BBC inviting him to appear on a show called Man about the Home. David Jacobs turns up and attempts to film but Frank's DIY disasters become apparent. At the same time, Frank is taking driving lessons. He takes his test (for the 10th time) — a series of near misses ensue and Frank ends up driving off the end of a pier into the sea. Even then, he yells to the harassed and bedraggled examiner, who has made rapidly for the shore, "Mr Hayes — have I passed?"

Series Three (1978)[]

Title Airdate Description Notes
"Moving House" 11 November 1978 The Spencers' move gets off to a bad start when Frank manages to fall out of the moving van into a barrel of tar and take half the furniture with him. Things get worse when within hours of arriving he not only gets on the wrong side of Mr Lewis from next door but half destroys his bedroom ceiling. In this episode, Frank sings a lullaby to his daughter, Jessica. First appearance of Frank's new, bad tempered neighbour, Mr Lewis.
"Wendy House" 18 November 1978 Frank is being kept very busy at woodwork classes especially when the insurance company value his entire collection of furniture at £40. To speed things along he has started using super glue which unfortunately manages to stick him, an old lady and a bus conductor to a chair. In addition to new furniture, Frank is building a Wendy House for Jessica, a very large Wendy House that proves too big to get through the workshop door. Features Richard Wilson as the insurance man. First appearance of Columbo, Frank's dog.
"Scottish Dancing" 25 November 1978 Frank and Betty have taken up Scottish country dancing and Frank has decided to go into politics and with a gala dinner for a Liberal Party candidate approaching, the rest of the committee are determined not to let Frank cause an embarrassment.
"Men as Women" 2 December 1978 Frank receives a letter from Grandpa Spencer in Australia inviting him and Betty to join him and help run his farm. Meanwhile, Dr Mender appears to be very depressed and preoccupied and for once Frank is not responsible. First appearance of Grandpa Spencer.
"King of the Road" (aka "Demon King") 9 December 1978 Frank's new job as a motorbike courier lands him in trouble with the law and up before the magistrates. Frank defends himself in the only way he knows how.
"Australia House" 16 December 1978 Frank is taking elocution lessons in preparation for his flying lessons. Meanwhile, a letter arrives from Australia House asking the Spencers to come discuss their possible emigration to Australia. By the end of the interview Mr Lawrence tells Frank he can go just to get rid of him.

1978 Christmas special[]

Title Airdate Description Notes
"Learning to Fly" 25 December 1978 Frank begins his flying lessons at the local school but things take a bit of a bad turn when Frank manages to cause his instructor to pass out in mid flight. Final episode.

Due to time pressures and aircraft noise problems, sound recordists were unable to accurately capture the audio within the aircraft cockpit. To alleviate this, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop used stock library sounds, including wind noise, the Wilhelm Scream No3 and radio chatter from a previous episode of Dads Army. The engine sound was recreated using an edited version of the aircraft sounds used in the classic film The Dambusters. A-V syncing issues mean it is clearly evident in these scenes that the actors voices have been re re-recorded afterwards

2016 Sport Relief sketch[]

Title Airdate Description Notes
"Frank Relief" 18 March 2016 Frank is on a journey by bicycle and roller skates to see his daughter Jessica take part in a race at the Olympic Velodrome. Sketch for Sport Relief. Gemma Arterton guest stars as a grown up version of Baby Jessica, alongside Paul McCartney, Jenson Button, Boris Johnson, Roy Hodgson, Arsene Wenger, David Walliams, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Bradley Wiggins, Clare Balding, Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, and Jamie Murray playing themselves, & Christopher Wilson as the newsagent.


The BBC has repeated Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em several times since the series was produced in the 1970s. The programme has been shown in Catalan public television, Nigeria on the NTA in the 1980s and 1990s and in Australia on the Seven Network's Great Comedy Classics Franchise in 2006-2007, GO! from 2009 to 2010 until the sitcom now screens on 7TWO. British channels Gold, BBC Two and BBC Prime took over repeats of the programme in 2007.

On 4 October 2015 it was reported that the BBC were planning a return of the sitcom, with Crawford and Dotrice purported to be involved in shooting scheduled for early 2016. The news was met extremely positively on social media.[5] On 18 March 2016 Michael Crawford and Michelle Dotrice reprised their roles for a one-off sketch for Sport Relief. Cameo appearances included Sir Bradley Wiggins, Paul McCartney and Jenson Button.[6]

Sketch for Sport Relief. Gemma Arterton guest stars as a grown up version of Baby Jessica, alongside Paul McCartney, Jenson Button, Boris Johnson, Roy Hodgson, Arsene Wenger, David Walliams, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Bradley Wiggins, Clare Balding, Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, and Jamie Murray playing themselves, Chris Wilson as the Newsagent.

Home video releases[]

In the United Kingdom six episodes from Series 1 and various selected episodes of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em were originally released by BBC Video on VHS in the 1990s. Series 1 and Series 2 were released on VHS and DVD on 21 October 2002. Series 3 and the Christmas Specials were released on VHS and DVD on 19 May 2003. The Complete Series was released on VHS and DVD on 6 October 2003, by Second Sight available in Region 2. On 1 November 2010, 2 entertain reissued Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em – The Complete Christmas Specials. On 14 February 2011 Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em – The Complete Series and Christmas Specials was reissued by 2 entertain with new packaging.

The complete collection is now available from both BBC Store and iTunes as a digital download.

In Australia Series 1-3 and the Christmas Specials were released in 2003 and 2004. The complete boxset was released in 2004 on DVD in region 4.

In the United States 13 selected episodes were released on VHS in 1998, and reissued on DVD region 1 in 2001.

In popular culture[]

  • In The Now Show, Prince Edward is usually portrayed as Frank Spencer by Hugh Dennis. In an episode from June 2010, the show had a sketch where Fabio Capello used Frank Spencer impressions as a motivational strategy for the England World Cup Squad.
  • The show, and the character of Frank Spencer specifically, have even been mentioned several times in the British House of Commons, including when Labour Party leader John Smith taunted Prime Minister John Major in a speech in 1993, by saying recent government mishaps would be considered 'too much' if submitted to the show's producers by script-writers.[7][8][9]
  • On 14 November 1998, during an edition of Noel's House Party Michael Crawford appeared as Frank to celebrate 25 years of the show.
  • English band Arctic Monkeys mention Frank Spencer in their song "You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me" from their 2006 album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not with the lines, "I'm so tense, never tenser/Could all go a bit Frank Spencer."
  • English band Reuben named a song after the show - "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em" is the second track on their second album Very Fast Very Dangerous.[10]
  • The title of the series "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em" is similar to Jimmy Clitheroe's catchphrase from the late 1950s to early 70s: "Don't Some Mothers 'Ave 'Em!"
  • Many of Frank Spencer's antics and catchphrases have been lampooned by numerous comedians, including Mike Yarwood and Lenny Henry.


External links[]