Of course, what really differentiates a Seventies blog from an Eighties or Nineties blog is that the former has to deal with social attitudes and assumptions, and therefore cultural products, that may have been worthy on their own terms, but totally unacceptable decades later.
The above song, which was a number one hit during the long hot summer of 1975, was performed by two regulars of the most popular World War II based comedy of the 1970's, written by "Dad's Army" writers David Croft and Jimmy Perry. Only it wasn't the rather lame and over-polite "Dad's Army" that they came from; it was from a much more prickly, class-conscious show. Alas, it was also a show in which the common racial stereotypes of the 1970's were upheld. That said, much of the rather treacley over-fondness that is now ladled over "Dad's Army" is partly due to a sense of guilt over the deliberate forgetfulness applied to "It Ain't Half Hot Mum".
The military is always a good medium to examine and ridicule class relations, and "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" was a more acidic dissection of the underlying tensions of British society than "Dad's Army". Like the latter programme, "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" offered a gallery of British class stereotypes - from blithering idiot upper class officers to the resentful members of the lower ranks, all held together by Windsor Davies' Sergeant Major Williams; the classic foreman, elevated from the working class to lord it over the rest of them, his small advance in rank provoking a torrent of gleefully malevolent abuse on those who were now below him.
Set on the Burma Front of 1945, Williams was forced to oversee an ENSA concert party full of female impersonators, intellectual Oxbridge-graduate musicians, and physically stunted tenor sopranos; all terrified of the Japanese and unanimous in their desire to escape Army life. Windsor Davies' Shut Up Williams was the most memorable character in the show, and indeed one of the great comic characters of the 1970's. The sheer physicality of Davies' perfomance was on a par with Leonard Rossiter's Rigsby in "Rising Damp"; both were minor-league bigots whose slight social advantage was turned into a gleefully malignant sense of schadenfreude.
Where "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" (rightly) falls foul of modern sensibilities is in its portrayal of the Indian manservants employed to keep the British soldiers' lives comfortable. Partly functioning as a kind of Greek chorus of comparative normality in observing the eccentricities of the British (especially the perceptive Punkah Wallah Rumzan), their role was rendered grotesque by Michael Bates' performance as Rangi Ram. Although raised in India and speaking fluent Hindi, Bates's grease-painted Bearer was too much of a caricature to withstand the soul-searching examination of racial attitudes that followed the urban riots of the 1980's. And of course the programme's racial outlook was much closer to that of the mid-1970's than to that of the war that had finished 25 years earlier, which had necessitated a much more pragmatic and respectful view of the cultures of the Indian frontier.
Simultaneously crass, brilliant and stupid, "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" is a classic example of the kind of priceless yet objectionable entertainment that the era threw up. There's a full episode below - make of it what you will.