I may not have been able to watch 70s sitcoms when they first aired, I was too busy learning to walk and talk at the time, but thanks to constant re-runs on Sky, I get to indulge in some vintage sitcom nostalgia anytime I want.
So I was pleasantly surprised to come across a DVD of a show that I’d never actually herd of called The Fosters.
Long before Desmonds represented a black British family their was The Fosters. First broadcast on ITV between 1976 and 1977 it ran for 27 episodes and produced two series.
The Fosters was Britain’s first comedy series to feature an all black cast and was actually based on the American series ‘Good Times’. In fact when the USA sold the format to the UK, it was under the condition that the British script writer had to use the original ‘Good Times’ scripts.
The Fosters focused on the life of a black family living in a South London council estate. The parents played by Norman Beaton as Samuel the dad and Isabelle Lucas as Pearl the mum, were both immigrants from Guyana. They had three children; Sonny the eldest son was played by Lenny Henry, their teenage daughter, Shirley was played by Sharon Rosita and their youngest son Benjamin was played by Lawrie Mark. Another main character to feature was their next door neighbour Vilma; she was played by Carmen Munroe. Desmonds fans will recognise her as she later went on to star alongside Norman Beaton as his wife Shirley in Desmonds.
When The Fosters first aired it was criticised for reinforcing black stereotypes and using offensive terms. But I can remember the same being said about Desmonds and at the time even The Cosby Show, was criticised for portraying an unrealistic view of a black family.
I watched it with my mum and funnily enough we weren’t offended at all, because we saw it as being funny and didn’t take it too seriously.
My mum especially loves that she can spot pictures and mirrors that we actually had in our home back in the 70s.
It’s a shame that more episodes weren’t made, because I think it could have been a real success.
The DVD includes all 13 episodes of Series One as well as the 1977 New Year’s Day Special.
The Foster – The Complete First Series in a 2-disc set is released by Network DVD (www.networkdvd.co.uk) and will be available to buy now from all good retailers.