Naïve Timothy Lea works in a window-cleaning firm run by his brother-in-law Sid Noggett. Though in a relationship with a policewoman (Linda Hayden), he is also seduced by a succession of frustrated housewives.
Directed by veteran Val Guest, this was the top-grossing British film of 1974, inspired three sequels (… of a Driving Instructor, … of a Pop Performer, … from a Holiday Camp) and many imitations, and made the gormless-looking Robin Askwith (sort of an X-certificate Keith Chegwin) a national icon, but no one had a good word for it then and it’s not improved with age.
However, if you enjoy that excruciating embarrassment tinged with melancholy only Mike Leigh delivers, something about the series makes them worth enduring. Six straight hours watching the four Confessions films is like a nightmare time machine transporting you back to the 1970s, when denim flares were cheap, Italian restaurants considered suspiciously pretentious and the sight of Askwith’s hairy arse bobbing up and down in a sea of foam was an automatic laugh-getter.
The films are rarely funny (you might laugh a bit at Kipper, the terrible glam/oi band of Confessions of a Pop Performer) and never sexy (Askwith usually seems in pain during the shagging scenes), but embalm everything that was most horrible about the 1970s in an orgy of fascinatingly horrible kitsch: TV sit-com names (Dandy Nichols, John le Mesurier, Bill Maynard, Windsor Davies) gamely giving naughtiness a go; attitudes to foreigners, gays and ethnic minorities even the lowest tabloid wouldn’t trot out in thirty years on; and endless frustrated housewives, Swedish au pairs and naughty schoolgirls coming on to our spotty hero. These are one-star films, and proud of it – as the Wurzels sing over the credits of Confessions From a Holiday Camp, ‘give me England every time!’