Piril Quench, child star of the 1960’s, was well known by people who knew him well. His claim to fame came at the age of 9 when he was chosen for the role of Georgie Nibbles in that exciting early 1960’s TV serial (today, it would be called a soap), “Home With The Nibbles.” Georgie’s catchphrase was “I fink the ‘amster’s dead.” This always yielded the reply from the rest of the family. “We ‘aven’t got an ‘amster.” Georgie’s catchphrase was ground-breaking at the time, but now, of course, is a bit lame.
This serial about a typical London family from The East End, starred Sunny Muldaur as the implausibly lovely Sally Nibbles, her with the exquisite hair, and Cliff Yeast as her husband, Tony.
This show went on to spawn 3 other successful TV series, the very popular “Knackers Yard” as well as “Do You Mind Awfully?” and “It’s Just Scrap, Jack.”
After the Nibbles had been deemed to have run its course (2 seasons), the TV companies plucked various characters from the original show for “Knackers Yard.” The Dad, Tony, the eldest boy, Loxley and his girlfriend, Crimson, the uncle, Les and his wife, Blossom and their next door neighbour, the West End singer, Peggy Slant and her husband/manager, Jack, along with Loxley’s mate, Grovesy. Loxley’s brother, Darryl, only appeared in one episode of the original series as he was in prison, but he is referred to throughout the entire series and “Knackers Yard” and “It’s Just Scrap, Jack.” Sadly, Georgie Nibbles, was one of the characters not retained for the splinter series. Piril’s star began to wane.
It says a lot about the skill of the writers and the actors that what started out as a fun, family show turned very dark and post-watershed in “Knackers Yard” and became very late night viewing in “It’s Just Scrap, Jack.”
Grovesy was shot in an early episode of “Knackers Yard” and Blossom ran off with the milkman, Dirk O’Keefe, whose head later turns up on wasteland behind prefabricated houses near the Yard. The rest of him was rumoured to be in the foundations of the Hendricks to Silvertown flyover. Blossom appeared again only at the very end of the last episode of “Knackers Yard,” when we assume it is her hand appearing through the open window of Les’ office at the Yard, stabbing him with the family’s ornate dagger, last seen when Blossom takes it as she leaves their home for the last time with Dirk waiting outside in his milkfloat.
Auntie Doreen down the road and Mr Syed in the newsagents in Flockhart Street see them racing off at 10 mph in the milkfloat.
Other characters in “Knackers Yard” are the 2 doctors at the Flockhart Street surgery, Dr Youssuf and Dr Fish, Sid the bookie and Jedidiah (Jed) the café owner, plus Ollie the Onion and Jack Scrap. Also the police are regularly represented by Inspector Pepper Titus and Sergeant Withers.
After 2 seasons, “Knackers Yard,” too, began to run out of steam, despite a couple of very successful storylines. Attempts to sell the series Stateside foundered due to the Americans finding Cockney English hard to understand.
“Do You Mind Awfully?” is still going today, although it has morphed now into a quiz/current affairs/comedy panel show and none of the Nibbles cast are involved anymore.
The last “Knackers Yard” episode closes with Inspector Pepper Titus and her Sergeant, Bob Withers, looking around the office for clues as a CSI member examines Les’ body. This is also the first scene in “It’s Just Scrap, Jack.” This ran for 2 seasons also.
The “Knackers Yard” episodes were particularly well written, mainly by the husband and wife writing team, Spyros and Minty Agathocleus. Storylines tended to concentrate on only 2 or 3 ex-characters from the “Home With The Nibbles” show and their interaction with the newer “Knackers Yard” characters.
Classic lines from the show include:-
LOXLEY: ‘ang on, if they shot ‘is head off, ‘ow do we know it was Dad?
LES: ‘e was the only person I ever knew who ‘ad the tattoo of a fish riding a bike on ‘is chest.
LES: I lost a pile last night on the boxing.
JED: But I fort you said Sid ‘ad all the fights fixed.
LES: The next fing I’m going to fix is Sid. Permanently this time. I’ve given that clown too many chances.
JED: Sweet. I know you’ll make it look good.
LES: I’m an artist.
Here are some classic lines from the original “Home With The Nibbles.”
SALLY: Tony, you are a lazy toe-rag. Just ‘cos they shot you in the arm, ‘ow long are you going to sit at ‘ome all day on the sofa, waiting for television to be invented?
LES: They ‘ad jugglers, ventriloquists, trapeze and everyfing over there. It was like being down the end of the pier or a circus or somefing. It was so noisy, I couldn’t ‘ear meself coughing up blood. Didn’t need to use a silencer on the gun, neither.
As mentioned earlier, throughout the series’ the son, Darryl is only seen once. He is in prison, serving a very long stretch. It is never mentioned why but in the episode where the family visit him, his Mum, Sally, asks her husband Tony (Darryl’s Dad) to get Darryl to tell him where the money is hidden. In that episode, Piril Quench as Georgie is presented with his finest scene. It is a touching moment when, at the end of the visit, he hands Darryl the GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card from the family’s Monopoly set, saying “Use it, Darryl. We miss you.”
It would be a long time before Piril made it back onto TV, as co-host with Garry Arrogant of an outdoorsy, adventure series. Sadly, with only Garry On Camping and Garry On Cruising filmed, Piril lost his long battle with drink and passed away on 4 April this year at the age of 46.
Steve Lodge is a wandering minstrel from London now based in Singapore. He has written a number of published short stories, plays, skits, poems and lyrics. He acts and is a regular on the Singapore Improv and Stand-up comedy circuit.
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