The film followed the extended family of "The General", played by Barker, as they went on an eventful seaside holiday. It was set on the Dorset coast in "Tiddly Cove", actually the coast between Bournemouth and Swanage. Ronnie Barker was a keen collector of saucy seaside postcards, and published several books of them. The humour of By the Sea was very much based on the colourful style of these. The film is notable for being completely free of speech, with the score by Ronnie Hazlehurst and various sound effects in their place. The humour is instead entirely visual, and relies on comic stereotypes (the old randy general, the busty girl, the cheeky schoolboy, etc.). It was the follow-up to another Two Ronnies film, The Picnic, featuring the same characters.
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