Okay, it might not be considered the most glamorous of all professions, but delve into the world of books and TV, and you’ll find some rather brilliant cleaners and housekeepers to aspire to. Here are our absolute faves!
Mrs Doyle, Father Ted
Widowed housekeeper Mrs Doyle lives to cook, clean and make tea for her three priests who live on Craggy Island in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted. In fact, so involved in her work is Mrs Doyle, that when there’s nothing to wash up or dust, she sets herself up with heavy duty chores like digging ditches and fixing the roof. Although she goes about her work with a smile and an immense amount of pride, there’s a definite sense of tragedy to Mrs Doyle, which makes her all the funnier. Take for instance, the time when Ted purchases her a shiny new tea-making machine for Christmas, and she takes to it with a screwdriver, claiming that she “liked the misery” of brewing tea for everyone. Judging by her appearance, Mrs Doyle could do with spending a bit more preening and cleaning time on herself.
Kim and Aggie
Love them or hate them, Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie have been on our TV screens for almost 10 years now, and in that time have scrubbed and tidied hundreds of the nation’s filthiest homes. But it’s not all about naming and shaming – they’ve given us some pretty good cleaning tips along the way. Want one? If you want to remove encrusted cat or dog food from the inside of a bowl, simply rub it with a little vegetable oil. Maybe you’ll even end up with a healthier pet…
In 1960s America, home and all the mod cons therein were all the rage, and this was reflected in the classic cartoons of the time with wonderful imagination. Futuristic family the Jetsons, for example had the kind and caring robot Rosie to help them out with everyday chores. In one episode, Rosie malfunctions and starts serving them their least favourite meals. As one of the Jetsons politely asks: “Has Rosie totally flipped her microchips?” The Flintstones’ cleaning aides might not have been such modern mod cons, but they were ingenious nonetheless. Who could forget the warthog garbage grinder, octopus dishwasher, lobster lawnmower and three-in-one elephant water cooler/tap/vacuum cleaner. Give us one of each!
The comics of Raymond Briggs have always brought out the special qualities in very normal characters (or the other way round in the case of Father Christmas), and Gentleman Jim – his story about a public toilet cleaner – is both touching and hilarious. As he polishes the cubicles and urinals, Jim (based on Brigg’s own father) dreams of a better life – one that involves pirates and cowboys and, erm, executive opportunities. But as he discovers more about his ‘successful’ peers, Jim begins to realise that perhaps he’s happy just the way he is. Beautiful stuff.