Great piece of TV archive….
Actor Warren Mitchell makes a nostalgic return to his alma mater, Oxford University, in 1970. While best known for his performance as Alf Garnett, in the hit TV comedy series Till Death Us Do Part, this short film reveals the sensitive, intelligent humanist behind the ranting, bigoted Cockney.
Mitchell briefly studied Physical Chemistry at University College, Oxford, before joining the RAF, with fellow student and actor, Richard Burton, in 1944. It was Burton who later convinced Mitchell, or Misell as he was then known, to pursue a career in acting.
Returning to the campus in 1970, Mitchell recalls how he lived off vast quantities of cocoa and bread and jam, as the University food was atrocious (“Don’t you know there’s a war on?” he was reprimanded).
He also recounts how University taught him to get drunk like a gentleman, and was discouraged from drinking in pubs. Debate and discussion was encouraged, and Mitchell says it was at Oxford that he first heard blasphemy proposed as “a serious philosophical argument”.
The downside to all this was a lack of female company, and the enforced dress code which saw casually attired students punished by “sconcing”, a university tradition by which the penalised were forced to drink two-and-a-half pints of beer in 25-seconds. Mitchell failed at this, but remarks that Alf Garnett would have managed such a feat. It was a “sweetly painful” return for Mitchell, who jokingly admits that he’d sell 51% of his soul just to be eighteen and back at the university once again.
With thanks to NellyM