Chelmsford 123

Juliette Harrisson has alerted me to the long awaited and much anticipated appearance of Chelmsford on Youtube. Chelmsford?!

 ” Chelmsford 123 was a sitcom that ran for two series in the 1980s. ………”   

Well, I have shown the first episode of it to my Latin classes over the last 25 years, to the exent that my VHS video cassette is close to disintegration through overuse (there is no DVD available). I have never tired of watching it myself, still find it funny, can recite it pretty much verbatim and will always find a ploy to introduce it into a lesson. (Maybe that says more about me than the programme)

My favourite opening, delivered with as as much gravitas as the situation demands goes something like this: “rare footage of Virgil reciting Aeneid Book 6  to the emperor has just been discovered …….. , (proving, incidentally and conclusively that video technology is much older than first thought)”

It doesn’t matters that it isn’t Virgil and cannot possibly be Augustus. By the time they realise that – if they ever do – they are locked in to a world of  poetry recitals, orgies, provincial administration and Dr Who. The comedy is puerile, slapstick, easy on the eye and ear. In short, perfect for teenagers. And they get to hear both poetic and conversational Latin, with helpful euphemistic subtitles for the more tricky expressions.

The purists may well throw cabbages (as the good people of Chelmsford do at the end when the new governor, trying to impress them with his knowledge of  British, repeats a phrase he had seen daubed on a milestone: “Pi** Off!”). But to any suggestion that this is all a load of “testiculos”, I would simply say “balderdash”.

arriverderci Roma – catch it here on Youtube

and read the whole of Juliette Harrisson’s post here