ENGLAND’S football team had a little bit of trouble getting past Colombia in their World Cup match on Tuesday.

But that was nothing compared to the stress Frank Spencer faced when he brought the house down – quite literally – on the Darlington Hippodrome stage.

The accident prone hero of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is played by comedian Joe Pasquale in this new version of the beloved 1970s sitcom.

And Pasquale has a persona which is ideally suited to the role of the loveable fool, who always seems to get it wrong, however well-meaning.

The on-stage action is farcical and chaotic, but make no mistake this is a slick production which is somehow able to remain true to its 1970s roots without looking too dated.

The action never ceases, with the rat-a-tat script delivered at a rate of knots by the excellent Pasquale. Not a word is wasted, nor an opportunity for a corny pun missed in a plot which delivers to the end.

Frank’s world is populated by a cast of familiar characters, including the unsympathetic mother-in-law, the kindly priest and the authority figure increasingly exasperated by our hero’s antics.

Pasquale is necessarily at the centre of the action, but he is ably supported by a strong cast – notably Sarah Earnshaw who perfectly captures the essence of the loving and endlessly patient nature of Frank’s wife, Betty.

A word too for the ingenious set. Frank’s house, subject to Spencer’s disastrous decorating and DIY efforts, is almost another character in its own right,

This show has belly-laughs aplenty and its share of pathos as the audience easily warmed to Pasquale’s Frank.

It runs at the Hippodrome until Saturday. Catch it if you can.

Andrew White