First shown: 5 December 1970 (US), 15 January 1971 (UK)
Director: Harry Booth
Writer: Glyn Jones
Appearing apart from the Double Deckers:
Julian Chagrin (Barney)
Ivor Salter (Policeman)
[Melvyn Hayes is credited as Albert, but if he appeared I missed him.]
Tiger befriends Barney, a one-man band, who is down on his luck but soon charms the rest of the gang, apart from Doughnut. They end up successfully starring on stage in front of the Queen, and even charm the policeman who has been pursuing Barney.
"One Man Band", by Ivor Slaney and Glyn Jones. This is a somewhat curious song. When Billie first sings it to Barney in the middle of the episode, she is challenging him to stop spreading his resources too thinly: "If you do a lot of everything, you won't be much of anything." But at the end of the episode, when the gang ends up doing their royal performance, the message has shifted around completely: "If you try your best at everything, you won't miss out on anything". As with some of Jones' other songs, it seems a bit didactic, with the difference that here the basic message is confused.
Chagrin is at his best doing classic mime with a musical theme, and those bits are good; the dance routine at the end is very good; poor Doughnut, as ever the butt of the joke, carries it off well and leads a couple of decent slapstick and chase sequences.
Less glorious moments
I'll be honest; this isn't my favourite episode. The dynamic of Barney charming Tiger and then the other kids just comes across as creepy by today's standards - unlike the Pop Singer of an earlier episode, he's clearly a fabulist. The rapid costume changes, both when he is messing around in the junkyard and when the kids suddenly transform into top and tails on stage, break the classical unities. Barney's first costume change, into a Chinese mandarin, is perhaps the most racist moment of the entire series. And the song is not very good.
What's all this then?, and Who's That?
Julian Chagrin was born in 1940 and is still going strong. This episode appears to have been written (by script editor Glyn Jones) purely to allow him to show off his skill in musical mime, which is how he became best known. I remember particularly his ten part series, The Orchestra, which was shown on Channel 4 in 1986-87. To be honest I thought it was pretty rubbish, depending entirely on sight gags, but the first episode won the Golden Rose at Montreux; judge for yourself:
Chagrin's first break came as one of the mime tennis players at the end of the very odd 1966 film Blowup:
Although he emigrated to Israel in 1976, he stayed on British TV screens for years as the Secret Lemonade Drinker in the R. White's advert, where his wife is played by Harriet Philpin, known to Doctor Who fans as a Thal soldier in Genesis of the Daleks:
The cinema was at 231 Shenley Road in Borehamwood. It was demolished in 1981.
See you next week...
...for Man's Best Friend.