The Rag Trade: 'Everybody out!' Gender, politics and class on the factory floor

Mary Irwin

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The BBC television situation comedy The Rag Trade (series one BBC 1961-63, revived LWT 1977-78) chronicled the weekly exploits of a group of female machinists employed at Fenner Fashions a small clothing factory in east London. Led by their clever, manipulative shop steward Paddy (Miriam Karlin), the women were constantly in conflict with the factory’s owner Harold Fenner (Peter Jones). Paddy was always ready to call a strike on the slightest of pretexts, initiated by her rallying cry and catch phrase “Everybody Out”. In total, five series of The Rag Trade were made. Series one to three were broadcast on the BBC between 1961 and 1963 in a prime Friday night viewing slot. After a gap of fourteen years, the series was revived by London Weekend Television (LWT) for a further two series from 1977-78, broadcast on Sunday evenings. This chapter concerns The Rag Trade’s first and most notable incarnation, however the reimagining of the series for the late 1970s will be considered towards the end of the chapter when examining the further development of the series.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish TV Comedies: Cultural Concepts, Contexts and Controversies
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
Number of pages378
ISBN (Print)9781137552945
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2015


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