“My friend Sylv told me it was safe standing up”

Andy McSmith

One of the funniest court cases of the ‘swinging sixties’ involved a dispute between the BBC and a playwright, Terence Frisby. Frisby had written a play called And Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them. Central to its plot was the circumstances under which a young woman became pregnant. It happened against a wall in a back alley, leading to a line of dialogue which the writer thought essential to the story but the BBC refused to broadcast. In court, Frisby’s barrister, Peter Oliver, delivered the line in an apparently perfect imitation of a cockney accent – “my friend Sylv told me it was safe standing up.”

Oliver went on to be a law lord and one of the greatest legal brains of his generation. Now another family member is seemingly on the road to eminence. His grandson, Rhodri Oliver, has been made Deputy Leader of North Norfolk district council at the tender age of 22, and is said to be destined to be a Tory MP.

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