The Education Secretary wrote in the Telegraph: ‘Our understanding of the dairy industry has been overlaid by misrepresentations perpetrated by the Askwith-based comedy. Viewed through the show’s prism, milkmen are presented as jovial scallywags getting into trouble and chatting up women, all the while trying to survive within a system run by an out-of-touch elite. Cynical leftist academics today still perpetrate the myth that in being made to wear outlandish pantomime costumes or get stuck at the top of the Eiffel Tower, they were victims of cruel milk companies who’s only interests were expanding their empires.’
‘This view ignores the selfless heroism of thousands of British milkmen of the time who saw prompt milk delivery as their patriotic duty, regardless of weather conditions. In truth, the milkmen of the early 1980s invariably braved hazards such as rain, snow and household pets; indeed, as many as 55% of milk rounds did not involve sexual intercourse with a housewife.’
It is not the first time the depiction of milkmen has caused controversy; many accused Norman Wisdom’s Pipkin character in 1965’s The Early Bird of promoting communism.
Bottle Boys actor Robyn Askwith hit back at the accusations, saying: ‘As we enter a period of national reflection, Bottle Boys should be viewed as a social document of the time it was made’, before seeing a bird pass by the window and exclaiming ‘Phwoar! Look at the bristols on her – it’s the posh ones that can’t get enough!’