RSS

Category Archives: Comedy Shows

That’s My Boy!

screenshot_2_13248

TITLE: That’s My Boy

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United Kingdom

GENRE: Sit-com

CHANNEL: ITV

YEARS: 1981

NUMBER OF SERIES: 5 including Christmas specials

WRITTEN AND CREATED BY: Pam Valentine and Michael Ashton

  • Molly Sugden- Ida Willis
  • Christopher Blake – Dr Robert Price
  • Jennifer Lonsdale – Angie Price
  • Clare Richards – Mrs Price
  • Harold Goodwin- Wilfred Willis
  • Deddie Davis – Miss Parfitt
  • Thelma Whiteley – Mrs Cross

PLOT: No-nonsense housekeeper goes to work for a young doctor and his wife. The doctor and housekeeper have an instant dislike towards each other – until the housekeeper discovers that the doctor is the baby she gave up for adoption almost twenty eight years ago…

There are some comedies that stand the test of time and are repeated over and over again to be enjoyed by new generations of viewers. Then there are comedies that fade into obscurity and are never mentioned again. Eighties sit-com That’s My Boy is an example of a comedy show that fits into the latter category. But if anyone thinks that’s a sign that it wasn’t very good or watchable – think again!

Over the years, I was vaguely able to recall a comedy show from my childhood that featured a young married couple with an older lady, who I guessed was some kind of live-in housekeeper. However, I could never remember the name of the show, and moreover,  I’d never seen it on TV since it was first shown, and I don’t remember anyone even mentioning it. I was beginning to wonder if I’d imagined it (like so many things from my childhood!)

A few of the things that I could recall were the appearance of the married couple’s flat; that the older lady looked like  Mollie Sugden;  the husband was very handsome, and whenever I thought of this comedy, I always associated it with the colour blue! I later realised that the older lady was indeed Molly Sugden, and that the blue association was because the opening and closing credits of series one to three featured a sketch of the apartment building where the trio lived with a sky blue background and also because Mollie Sugden’s character, Ida, often wore blue.

Despite there having been five series of That’s My Boy, my memories of this sit-com were a little on the hazy side but I did think about the sit-com over the years and was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and spend some very pleasant evenings (and weekend mornings!) watching this show all over again. I was amazed to learn that I was actually able to recall certain scenes and episodes, although I didn’t remember Wilfred or Mrs. Price, and neither did I remember the move to Yorkshire. I was also surprised to hear that it was shown on Friday nights, as for some reason, I remember That’s My Boy being shown on Sunday afternoons (?)

THE STORY SO FAR…

When Yorkshire-born Ida Willis turns up at the Muswell Hill flat belonging to Dr Robert Price and his wife Angie, a model, to work as their new housekeeper, she and Angie instantly become friends. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Ida and Robert who appear to loathe each other on sight. However all that changes one afternoon when Ida confides in Angie about the baby boy she gave up for adoption called Shane. After showing each other baby photos of Shane and Robert, Angie and Ida are dumbstruck by the realisation that the baby is one and the same – meaning that Robert is Ida’s long-lost son, Shane!

tmb

Had this been a soap opera, this storyline would have been drawn out for several months (or years) with plenty of tears, tantrums, sobbing into bottles of wine, with shrieks of ‘you ain’t my muvva!’ once the secret was revealed but comedy handles such a heavy topic in an altogether light-hearted manner with much hilarity that doesn’t see Robert scarred of life or going on a killing spree! The realisation that they are mother and son doesn’t make them become best friends overnight. Ida tries hard to be a mother to Robert, but she still grates on him, especially when she insists on calling him by his birth-name Shane. And Ida isn’t afraid to give Robert/Shane a piece of her mind when she thinks it’s called for.

Much of the humour is provided by Ida’s wayward brother Wilfred and the power struggle between Ida and Robert’s ‘other mummy’ – his adoptive mother, Mrs Price, an upmarket widow who is as far removed from Ida as you can get. The two naturally don’t get on as they battle to become the number one  ‘mummy’ in Robert’s life, but there are times when the two have to form an alliance, especially when it’s in the best interests of their son.

hqdefault

But Robert and Ida do indeed bond and it is delightful to watch their relationship develop. Robert becomes very protective of Ida and when attending the wedding of Ida’s niece, it’s really heart warming to see Robert affectionately declare Ida as his mother. What was probably slightly unusual was the relationship between Ida and her daughter-in-law, Angie. A typical situation would have seen glamorous model and actress Angie, snobby and aloof who seriously clashes with her newfound mother-in-law. But then Angie doesn’t get on with her other mother-in-law Mrs. Price so I think it was clever of the writers to create a different scenario where instead of being the archetypal interfering mother-in-law, Ida is a friend and an ally to Angie.

And later on in the fourth series, when the family leave Muswell Hill and move to Little Birchmarch in Yorkshire after Robert secures the post of village doctor, we meet the dithering Miss Parfitt, Robert’s mousy receptionist.

WHY I LOVE IT:

One thing that’s dawned on me after watching That’s My Boy! is that I seem to be a fan of sit-coms that are not considered ‘classics’ or that most people might have forgotten. Fawlty Towers, Only Fools And Horses, Open All Hours etc. are firm favourites with me and my family and are undeniably terrific, but I really do think that there’s something good and a lot of fun to be had in watching the lesser repeated comedies.

That’s My Boy is  a wonderfully pleasant comedy and one of the reasons why I think it works is because of Mollie Sugden’s immensely likable and highly amusing performance. Mollie is in good form and relies on her genius for visual expression and excellent timing. She is a wonderful actress with great screen presence and her portrayal of Ida is no exception. For most people, Sugden will always be best remembered for her role in  Are You Being Served? but it’s very easy to forget the other great roles she played with Ida being a good example with her witty one-lines and hilarious put-downs – this is a lady who has an answer for everything!

Another reason why I think That’s My Boy is fantastic is because of the rapport that Mollie Sugden has with the supporting cast and the likeable characters they play. All the characters work brilliantly together, with the supporting cast acting as a backdrop for Ida to bounce off.

I enjoyed the  warm yet amusing storylines that kept the audience laughing throughout.. I found each episode to be hilarious and enjoyable to watch.  watch them you won’t get them any more today. The theme tune may consist solely of the lyrics “that’s my boy, that’s my boy. Lalalalalalala…” the upbeat tune somehow suits the show well, and after hearing it just a couple of times, the tune will never leave your head. That could either be a great thing or an annoyance – for me it was a great thing.

I found That’s My Boy to be a very pleasant comedy but wondered how it would be received today. Certain quotes and the play on stereotypes would not be acceptable today as it would be considered racist or homophobic. And I did wonder if That’s My Boy could be considered light-hearted family entertainment with all of Robert and Angie’s saucy antics – but then again, I think today’s kids are exposed to a great deal more!

I do think it’s quite a shame that That’s My Boy never reached the great heights I feel it should have and has more or less disappeared. I also can’t understand why it was hardly ever repeated after it was first shown on TV. But I’m so glad that I discovered this little nugget of TV gold – definitely what I call comfort food television and I will most definitely be watching it again.

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ten British TV Comedy Theme Songs We Sang Along To

The first post of 2015! yay! I hope everyone’s new year has got off to an amazing start.

One of the best things about growing up in Britain is the multitude of comedy shows that this country has produced over the years, many of which have gone on to become classics and are well known all over the world. As much as I enjoy sitcoms, comedy shows, and stand-up from any country – just as long as it’s funny – nothing beats the British sense of humour, which explains why I love so many of our sitcoms. Only Fools And Horses, Fawlty Towers, One Foot In The Grave, Keeping Up Appearances – all fantastic!

However with many shows, it’s not just the show, the characters and the actors that are memorable, but most come complete with intros, opening and closing credits and theme tunes that stick in your mind. They’ll having you singing along with the beginning and end of each show, and it’ll probably have you singing the theme song for days. I still can’t get some of these theme songs out of my head years later!

So I’ve compiled a list of ten of the most memorable theme songs from British comedy series. There are a few comedies here that have been locked away in the ‘long lost’ vault but they’ve thankfully been found and I’m sure they’ll have you going, “Oh yeah! I remember that!” And for those of you who noticed that some of your favourite theme tunes were not mentioned in Ten TV Show Theme Tunes We Loved Singing Along To, just remember there’ll be plenty more lists cropping up in the future!

1. Dear John

TITLE: Dear John

COMPOSED BY: John Sullivan (show’s writer) and Ronnie Hazelhurst

SUNG BY: Joan Baxter

YEAR: 1986

No, not the film with the delicious Channing Tatum, but the seriously underrated BBC sitcom of the 1980’s starring the late Ralph Bates as a divorcé who joins a club for the divorced and separated in the hope of making friends and finding love. Much of the humour comes from the bunch of oddballs he befriends. The Americans did a remake of this series which lasted four series but I much prefer the British version. Sorry!

Dear John is a comedy which is very dear to my heart and brings back lots of memories, not just of the show but of my childhood and the eighties in general. I recently came across some comments which stated that the theme song for Dear John was probably the most depressing and dreary of all the theme songs out there. Well now that they mention it, I suppose it is. But then when you think that the show is about a divorced man who has lost everything to his ex-wife after she ran off with his best friend and now has to live in a tiny bedsit, well we couldn’t have a theme tune that got us up and dancing now, could we? The song fits in with the ethos of the show. Because it has a 1920s feel to it, I assumed that it was a really old song but it was actually written by the show’s creator John ‘Only Fools’ Sullivan.

Fantastic song!

2. The Vicar Of Dibley

TITLE: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)

COMPOSED BY: Howard Goodall

SUNG BY: Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

YEAR: 1994

How I love this comedy! Beginning in 1994, Dawn French is amazing as the female vicar who takes over a parish church in the heart of a rural community – and finds that many of her new parishioners have more than a few eccentricities between them. I watched the trailer for the show and thought it looked quite funny – I wasn’t wrong and I wasn’t disappointed!

When you think about The Vicar of Dibley, you think about three things: the stunning countryside; the barmy characters, and that distinctive theme tune, The Lord is my Shepherd by Howard Goodall, who has also worked on the themes for Blackadder, The Borrowers, Red Dwarf, and Mr Bean among many others. The theme song was based around Psalm 23 and was performed by the choir of Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral. Originally Goodall had composed this song as a serious piece of church choral music – it hadn’t initially been intended for use as the theme of a hit comedy show. But more than twenty years later, viewers can see that the enchanting theme song fits in beautifully with the series.

Oh, just remembered a fourth thing: the joke between Alice and Geraldine at the end of every episode!

3. Butterflies

TITLE: Love Is Like A Butterfly

SUNG BY: Clare Torry

LYRICS: Dolly Parton

YEAR: 1974

This show was a bit before my time so I don’t remember it the first time round but I do remember watching Butterflies when it was repeated. It starred Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer who were familiar faces to me, but then I saw a very young Nicholas Lyndhurst who was more than just a little familiar – he was ‘Rodders’ from Only Fools And Horses! Carla Lane’s classic sitcom focuses on a frustrated housewife and her male companion, whose friendship borders on romance, and their will-they-won’t- they antics had viewers gripped.

I had already heard the song Love Is Like A Butterfly before I realised that it was also used as the theme song for Butterflies as it happens to be one of my mother’s favourite songs and she used to sing it all the time. It was a hit in 1974 for American country music legend Dolly Parton, although the version that was used for the opening credits was recorded by British singer Clare Torry, especially for Butterflies. This version was recorded with a band conducted by well-known BBC TV composer Ronnie Hazelhurst.

4. Birds Of A Feather

TITLE: What’ll I Do?

COMPOSED BY: Irving Berlin

SUNG BY:  Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke (from third series onwards)

LYRICS: Irving Berlin

YEAR: 1923

Twenty first century kids will know Birds Of A Feather as an ITV sitcom that’s in its second series. But of course old-timers like myself will remember when the show was first shown on the BBC back in the 1980s and continued until the late nineties. Sisters Sharon and Tracy live in Tracy’s rather luxurious home in Essex while both their husbands are in prison for armed robbery. Tracy’s devastated to be separated from her Darrell, while Sharon couldn’t care less that she’s away from her errant husband Chris. It might sound like all doom and gloom but it is actually hilarious – with the girls’ man-mad neighbour providing much of the entertainment. I never missed an episode of this sitcom when I was growing up.

The show used Irving Berlin’s wonderfully moving What’ll I Do as the theme tune for the first two series. From the third series onwards, a version sung by Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson, who play Sharon and Tracy, was used.

5. Bread

TITLE: Bread Theme Song

COMPOSED BY: David Mackay

SUNG BY: The Bread Cast

LYRICS: David Mackay

Carla Lane had another hit on her hands with this classic sitcom from the 1980s. This used to be on Sunday evenings but I’m pretty certain that some series may also have been broadcast during weekday nights.

The sit-com focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Boswell family and their efforts to muddle through life with very little money – which often resulted in underhand tactics. I thought Grandad was hilarious, and the contempt of the lady from the DSS for the Boswell family was amusing

The theme song was composed by David Mackay and featured the vocals of the cast of Bread.

6. Desmond’s

TITLE: Don’t Scratch My Soca

COMPOSED BY: John Collins

SUNG BY: Norman Beaton

LYRICS: Trix Worrell

This seriously funny comedy was set in a barber shop in Peckham, owned by a Caribbean family, the Ambroses. The shop was a place for many of the local. lively and interesting characters in the show to congregate and share stories. It reminds me of the area of North-West London where I grew up. The local barber shops seemed to be the meeting point for many of the menfolk in our town, and it was very evident that there were more friends and relatives in the  shop than paying customers and it was a place where many of the male members of the community gathered together, and it had something of a social club vibe.

The theme tune was very familiar to us when we were growing up – some of my classmates knew all the words to the song. It had a soca vibe which reflected the Ambrose family’s Trinidadian roots. It was very upbeat and uplifting which reflected the liveliness of the characters and the business of the shop. There was never a dull moment at Desmond’s!

7. Streets Apart

TITLE: Streets Apart

COMPOSED BY: David Mackay

SUNG BY: Neil Lockwood

LYRICS: David Mackay

YEAR: 1988

Sylvie and Bernie were childhood sweethearts who dated and drifted apart, taking different directions in life. They meet almost twenty years later and try to pick up where they left off… but it’s not easy when you’re now different people each with a different set of circumstances.

I love this comedy written by Adrienne Conway. Almost thirty years on, it’s still very watchable – but it makes me yearn for the 1980s! It had been a long time since I first watched the show, but as soon as I heard those opening bars of the theme, it was instantly recognizable and transported me back to my childhood. The lyrics for this tender theme tune are full of longing, wistfulness and second chances. And Neil Lockwood’s amazing vocals do this song justice.

8. Just Good Friends

TITLE: Just Good Friends

COMPOSED BY: Ronnie Hazelhurst

SUNG BY: Paul Nicholas

LYRICS: John Sullivan

YEAR: 1983

Would you seriously consider being friends with your ex? Especially after he jilted you at the alter? Well that’s exactly what Penny Warrender does after her former fiancé Vince Pinner comes back into her life again. The two decide to put the past behind them and become ‘just good friends’ – but the question is, can they ever be just that?

Another one of John Sullivan’s masterpieces, it starred Jan Francis and Paul Nicholas who were huge stars in England back in the 1980s. This sitcom was a firm favourite with my parents so they would regularly tune in, and I do have memories of watching the final ever episode. Nicholas was already an established theatre actor and agreed to do the vocals for the track, written by Sullivan.

9. Watching

TITLE: What Does He see In Me?

COMPOSED BY: Charles Hart

SUNG BY: Emma Wray

LYRICS: Charles Hart

YEAR: 1987

Merseyside couple Brenda and Malcolm are very much chalk and cheese. They come from different backgrounds, have different interests, and completely different personalities. The only thing they have in common is watching: Brenda watches people; Malcolm watches people. It’s no wonder their relationship is more off than on.

I loved watching (scuse the pun!) this sitcom back in the nineties and loved the theme tune which my sister and I used to sing (quite badly!) I think the lyrics are quite fitting for the show. It sums up the fact that Brenda and Malcolm are very different, aren’t exactly consumed with lust and passion, but love each other and belong together.

 

10. Chef

TITLE: Serious Profession

COMPOSED BY: Omar

SUNG BY: Omar

LYRICS: Omar

Now here’s a sitcom I used to watch but totally forgot about! If you think Gordon Ramsay’s got a mouth on him, wait til you meet acclaimed chef, Gareth Blackstock, who struggling to balance his home life with his wife Janice and the demands of running a top restaurant, often gives in to temper tantrums in the kitchen.

The theme tune to Chef! has got to be the coolest theme tune I’ve ever heard to accompany a television show. Funky and upbeat, it’s guaranteed to get you up and dancing, not just singing along. Although of course when it features the smooth vocals of soul superstar Omar, how could it be anything other than cool?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Comedy Shows, Name That Tune!, TV Shows

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

OMG! 20 Years Of Friends

Genre: Sitcom
Started: 22nd September 1994
Ended: 6th May 2004
Created by: David Crane and Marta Kauffman
Series: 10
Episodes: 236
Main Cast: David Schwimmer – Ross Geller
Courtney Cox – Monica Geller
Matt LeBlanc – Joey Tribbiani
Jennifer Aniston – Rachel Green
Matthew Perry – Chandler Bing
Lisa Kudrow – Phoebe Buffay

Guest Stars: Elliot Gould – Jack Geller
Christina Pickles – Judy Geller
James Michael Tyler – Gunther
Maggie Wheeler – Janice Litman
Helen Baxendale – Emily Waltham
Tom Selleck – Richard Burke
Paul Rudd – Mike Hannigan
Jane Sibbett – Carol
Jessica Hecht – Susan

Plot: A group of six from New York who are very different in terms of personality but are firm friends nonetheless. They live in the same neighbourhood and are known for always hanging out at the same coffee shop, Central Perk. When they are not there they can usually be found at Monica’s apartment. The show focuses on the group’s strong friendship, as well as their romantic and career escapades with hilarious results.

imagesVZQXN8E9

So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

I really, really cannot believe that this year marks twenty years since the first episode of Friends was aired. That’s right, the hit American sit-com about the lives of a close-knit gang of six New Yorkers first hit American screens in September 1994. That’s right – twenty years!!!! My goodness where has the time gone? Since then we’ve been glued to the antics of Joey, Rachel, Phoebe and co. And incidentally it’s been over ten years since the last episode aired in May 1994.

f3

I can’t put into words how special Friends is to me. Some might even think that’s weird. I mean it’s a television sit-com. Who gets sentimental over a television sit-com? Well, I do! Friends brings back great memories of school days, teenage years, and family moments. Plus it’s as funny as hell! What’s there not to like?

f4

I first started watching Friends when I was in my mid -teens. Thursday night was treat night, so after a hard night hitting the books, I’d grab a ready meal and settle down in front of the telly to watch my fave show… Channel 4’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?  But before Whose Line began, I’d manage to catch the last few minutes of a new American comedy. It wasn’t long before I started taking my study breaks a little earlier on a Thursday night so I could watch this new American comedy from the beginning of each episode. It was really funny and thoroughly enjoyable… but even then I didn’t realise just how huge it was going to become.

imagesGU27PLML

It wasn’t long before the rest of my family got in on the act. By then Friends had gone from the near-enough graveyard slot to become prime time viewing on a Friday evening. So Friday evenings were spent with us gathered around the telly after dinner, laughing our heads off. Apart from me, my little brother was the biggest Friends fan in our house. We never missed an episode, and it in fact became known as ‘our tradition.’ And every Christmas, my brother would get a new Friends video (yes, it was videos back then) which he would practically watch on repeat. It wasn’t long before we knew practically every line of the script – and used to quote the characters to the point where it both amused and annoyed our sisters.

images13A2UECN

Over the last twenty years, we’ve all lost count of how many times Friends has been repeated on the telly. But the thing is that it never gets old. Every time you tune in to each episode, you laugh like you’ve never heard the gags before – and I guess that’s the beauty of the show. In all these years, I’ve only met three people who have said that they can’t stand Friends. That’s just left me wondering what’s wrong with them!

rr

So in honour of Friends’ twentieth year, we’re taking a look at twenty things closely associated with the show that have made Friends so unique; this includes our favourite memories and things about the show that – without wanting to be dramatic – actually changed our lives.

1. COFFEE SHOP CULTURE

Today, teenagers hang out in coffee shops up and down the country. And right here in England they have plenty to choose from: Starbucks, Café Nero, Costa, as well as millions of independent coffee shops. Yep, word has gotten out that coffee is big business!

When I was a teenager, we hung out at either McDonalds or the local chippy. If we really wanted to push the boat out, then we had Pizza Hut. But Friends changed all that once we saw how much fun the Friends gang were having at Central Perk. We decided that coffee shops were the only place to lounge around in too. And it seems that we’re not the only ones who thought it was a great idea, as coffee shop culture has now taken off all over the world.

images3AA8L85V

2. SOFAS IN COFFEE SHOPS

The sofa at Central Perk was very much the gang’s domain. Remember the gang’s dismay when another group took over the sofa?

I’d never seen a sofa in a coffee shop until I started watching Friends. We certainly didn’t have them here in UK coffee shops. But I thought it was a super cool idea. There’s nothing like getting comfy on the sofa with a steaming cup of coffee whilst having a natter to make yourself feel really at home. Now you can find a comfy, cosy sofa in just about every coffee shop – and I’m willing to bet that that’s mostly thanks to Friends.

f2

3. JENNIFER ANISTON: HAIR ICON

When Jennifer Aniston accepted the role of Rachel Green, I bet she didn’t think that her hair would become just a tad bit more famous than her. The ‘Rachel’ cut was the Farrah Flick of it’s day, and the most requested hairstyle in salons worldwide.

I sported a similar do for a while but it was probably not as fab as Jennifer’s. Her hairdo was a layered, longer length bob but it was the savvy way she wore it that made it such a hit. This particular style paved the way for Ms. Aniston to enter into hair icon territory, because even though the numerous great hairstyles she sported throughout the series never quite eclipsed the success of the ‘Rachel,’ Jennifer inevitably became known as ‘the one with the great hair.’

imagesZ66BQ0HW

4. SMELLY CAT

Phoebe may have known how to rock a guitar but when it came to songwriting, she was known for some rather dubious lyrics. But despite this fact, Smelly Cat became something of a classic – and proof to aspiring musicians everywhere that inspiration for a hit can come from the most unlikeliest of topics!

5. MONICA’S APARTMENT

Who wouldn’t want a spacious yet cosy apartment as inviting as Monica’s. There was criticism that a waitress (Rachel) and a just-starting- caterer (Monica) could never have afforded an apartment in NYC as cool as that in real-life but who cares? It was nice just to dream about it! And even though Monica and hubby Chandler eventually bought a house in the suburbs to raise their family, I think it’s definitely Monica’s apartment that’s the place to be.

f3

6. RACHEL’S AMBITION

Rachel Green may have started out as something of a rich, spoilt brat but she eventually learned to stand on her own two feet when Gunther hired her as a waitress at Central Perk. However Rachel’s real dream was to work in fashion – a career she’d pursued once she’d found the confidence to do so.

This resonates well with me because I’ve been there too (no, not the rich, spoilt brat bit!). We’ve all had to abandon our dreams at some point in our lives because real life got in the way. But Rachel showed us that with a little perseverance and dedication, it’s possible to get there in the end.

headoverfeels.com

headoverfeels.com

7. WE WERE ON A BREAK!

Rachel wanted a break from her relationship with Ross. Ross thought that meant he could date other people – so he did. This didn’t go down too well with Rachel when she found out, so she decided that their temporary break should become a more permanent one.

This Ross and Rachel saga struck fear into the hearts of most people who were going through a rough patch in their relationships causing them to spell out exactly what ‘being on a break’ meant!

8. NEW YORK BECAME THE PLACE TO BE

OK, so even before Friends, New York was hardly on the bottom of everyone’s ‘must visit’ list. In fact for many people it was at the top of their ‘must live there’ list! But Friends – along with Sex And The City – was a great advert for New York City and made those who didn’t live there want to take an even bigger bite out of the Big Apple (even though the show was filmed in California!)

imagesCU0G9O8J

9. ROSS: THE PATRON SAINT OF GEEKS

Straight-laced, socially-awkward brainiac Ross Gellar who revelled in his staus as ‘Dr.Gellar,’ was overly-enthusiastic about science and loved his career as a palaeontologist, was the saviour of academics, and dare I say it, geeks everywhere! He proved that you didn’t have to be the coolest kid on the block to land the hottest girl.

10. THOSE CATCHPHRASES

Oh…My…God! How you doin’? Could you be any more stupid? We were on a break!

If you’re a Friends fan, those catchphrases will need no explanation!

11. THE ONE WITH THE…

Friends writers knew that even if they gave episodes an actual name, that viewers would refer to these episodes as ‘The one with the eggplant,’ or ‘The one where Rachel finds out.’ So that’s exactly what they called these episodes with the title beginning with the words ‘The One…’. No other TV show has done this and I think it’s quite clever really!

imagesVN0X7FDY

12. EVERYONE HAD A FRIEND WITH THE WORD ‘FUN’ IN THEIR NAME

Remember Monica’s ex-boyfriend, Fun Bobby? He was the life and soul of the party… until everyone discovered that without alcohol, he really wasn’t that much fun!

Nonetheless some of us took to prefixing the name of our loudest and wildest friend with the word ‘Fun’ so that it became a part of their name. I know I did and I have to say that hanging out with Fun Lucy was always a barrel of laughs!

13. IT’S OK TO GET WITH YOUR FRIENDS

So serial divorcé Ross got with Rachel, while his sister Monica cured his commitment phobic friend Chandler. Both couples highlighted the pitfalls of dating a good friend – but in the end, it all worked out for the best. And Friends’ fans cheered when these couples got together – and probably plucked up the courage to ask their best friend of ten years who they’d secretly admired from afar out for a drink.

We all waited for Phoebe and Joey to hook up but the scriptwriters had other ideas. Perhaps they didn’t want to be too predictable. Perhaps they thought Mike Hannigan was better for Phoebe. Perhaps they wanted to give Joey his own show…

imagesJNRA04BV

14. SIMILAR SHOWS

To say Friends was huge is like saying that water is a little bit wet. It was a phenomenon – and still is! It wasn’t long before other program makers the world over got in on the act and tried to recreate the show’s winning formula: a group of close friends who are almost like family in an apartment/coffee shop/bar setting, who support each other through trials and tribulations especially romantic disasters. Unlike soap operas were friends could stab each other in the back, in these types of shows, friends had each other’s back.

Some of these shows popped up even before Friends had finished its run, and not all of them were sitcoms, but the ones that were injected the same kind of wit and humour that made Friends so popular. So before we knew it, we were settling down to watch Cold Feet, Coupling, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Sex And The City, and That 70s Show.

But of course, as awesome as these shows are, and I do enjoy watching them too, there can only ever be one Friends.

cf

15. THE CAST BECAME MEGA STARS

The cast of Friends were all established actors before they played our favourite group of New Yorkers. But they hadn’t reached the dizzying heights of stardom with any of their previous work (although I remember Matt LeBlanc’s Heinz ketchup commercial very well!) But Friends changed all that for the six actors who went on to become household names. And ten years after the show ended, they’re still very much in the spotlight.

I also think that it’s fantastic that all six actors wanted to remain in the show through the course of its ten year run. Nobody chose to quit the series to concentrate on other projects which meant that all six of our favourite characters appeared in every series and were played by the same actors during the course of ten years which I think is amazing and quite unusual.

imagesB29ZFBM7

16. IT BROUGHT THE WORLD CLOSER TOGETHER

I’m wondering if there’s a country in the world which hasn’t broadcast a single episode of Friends… no, I didn’t think so! Maggie Wheeler who played Chandler’s ex-girlfriend, Janice, expressed her surprise when a fan from India approached her to say how much she loved Friends, proving just how much of a world-wide phenomenon the show had become. Despite the hit comedy being dubbed in multiple languages, everyone understand the language of friendship, and it’s great to know that you can go anywhere in the world and you’re bound to bump into someone who knows who the Friends gang are.

I wonder how you translate, “How you doin’?” in Cantonese…

friends

17. TACKLING SOCIAL ISSUES WITH HUMOUR

Looking back, it amazes me that my brother was allowed to watch Friends at such a young age because as funny as it is, it did deal with some pretty adult themes: divorce; infertility; surrogacy; adoption; single motherhood; casual sex; alcoholism… not exactly a barrel of laughs. But despite the heavy content, each issue was handled with humour and sensitivity so you didn’t feel as though you were watching the most depressing show on earth.

Eastenders, take note!

Ross with his son Ben - who lives with his two mums

Ross with his son Ben – who lives with his two mums

 

18. WE WANTED OUR OWN FRIENDS GANG

I had a friend at university who explained that his posse were “just like Friends from off the telly.”

“There’s six of us as well. And we all hang out at a coffee shop too. And each one of us are just like one of the characters.”

Well he ‘s not the only one who thought that way. The truth is we all wanted our own little Friends gang, and we could relate to at least one of the characters. Me? I’m a strange mix of Phoebe and Rachel!

freinds

19. THEME TUNE

There can’t be a single person on the planet who doesn’t know the words to that famous theme tune or who wouldn’t be able to recognise the melody. Performed by The Rembrandts, it is without a doubt their biggest hit and the one they’ll always be remembered for.

The lyrics fit the concept of the show perfectly and furthermore illustrates the meaning of friendship.

20. FRAMILY

Most of us were brought up on the mantra that family comes first – and for the most part that’s how it should be. But the show taught us that it was possible to love your friends like family. It’s not always about blood, genetics or DNA – it’s about the strong bond of genuine love, respect and friendship. Even the friends cast have said that they’ve become like family which is most inspiring.

f2

So there you have it – all the things that makes Friends so fantasically unique and one of a kind. I’m so glad that Friends is as relevant today as it was when it began twenty years ago. Whereas a lot of once popular comedies now appear dated, I really do believe that Friends will remain a classic.

Here’s to the next twenty years.

 

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Comedy Shows, TV Shows

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

Duty Free: The Total Comedy Package

dutyfree

TV Show: Duty Free

Genre: Sit-com

Plot: Two couples meet on Spanish package holiday – and an extra-marital fling begins with comic results.

Series: Three plus Christmas special

Made by: Yorkshire Television. Although the show was set in Spain, it was filmed  in a Leeds studio. Only in the concluding Christmas special were some scenes filmed on location in Spain.

Ran from: 1984-1986

Written by: Eric Chappell and his secretary Jean Warr. Chappell is also the mastermind behind Rising Damp, Only When I Laugh, Home To Roost  and many other hit sitcoms.

Starred: Keith Barron as David Pearce

Gwen Taylor as Amy Pearce

Neil Stacy as Robert Cochrane

Joanna Van Gyseghem as Linda Cochrane

The late Carlos Douglas made reccurring appearances as Carlos the waiter, while Mind Your Language regulars George Camiller and Juan Ramirez also made appearances. Special guests Frazer Hines from Emmerdale Farm and TV prsenter Judith Chalmers – two well known faces in 1980s Britain – appeared as themselves.

Carlos Douglas as Carlos the waiter

Carlos Douglas as Carlos the waiter

 

I have often thought about Duty Free over the years, so I was extremely excited when I finally got a chance to view all three series once again. The first time I watched it was when it was broadcast for the very first time in the ’80s. The second time I saw it was just a few weeks ago when I was well into adulthood. Wow, a gap of thirty years! If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will! I have no idea why I waited so long to view the show again but I was amazed that my old and often forgetful head, managed to remember so many scenes. Incidentally, I have no idea why a child of infant school age was allowed to watch a sit-com about randy Brits abroad – and it seems as though I’m not the only one. A look at forums indicates that for many, this was compulsive family entertainment. Yeah – if you say so! Funnily enough, I don’t actually remember watching this with my family. As I recall, my mum was usually in the kitchen getting Dad’s dinner ready while he’d be on his way home from work. So I was actually watching it by myself.

 

Illicit lovers David and Linda

Illicit lovers David and Linda

 

And the story goes like this…

Two British married couples – The Pearces and The Cochrans – meet at the hotel they are holidaying at in Spain and begin socialising together. In each of the two marriages, there appears to be an air of discontentment with one half of each pairing yearning for something more from life. Robert is an ultra-English, pompous xenophobe who stifles his elegant and free-spirited wife Linda, who in turn is keen to break free of the restraints that Robert has imposed on her. While over at the Pearces, Amy is quite happy with her lot in life and is determined to make the most of it. David, on the other hand, crushed at being made redundant, seems bored and frustrated with life and is searching for something new and exciting.

It’s no wonder that David and Linda feel drawn to each other and they begin an affair. The recurrent plot involves the illicit lovers trying to escape their respective partners so that they can be alone together – and at one point attempting to run away together after their affair has been discovered – and being thwarted every time. Carlos the waiter often finds himself somehow involved in the foursome’s shenanigans.

A touch of class

When it came to social class, the two couples are poles apart: The Pearces are working-class northern socialists who are having to make ends meet after David’s redundancy (they spent David’s redundancy money on the package holiday)  while the Cochrans are affluent, well-travelled, well-cultured middle class Conservatives –  evident from their accents, their pursuits, and their political beliefs. The issue of David’s unemployment is quite a topical touch because as much as I get misty-eyed about my childhood years, those who were old enough to remember would know that unemployment was rife in the ’80s with many people being made redundant and finding it difficult to get work.

What makes David different from the other characters, is that while they are all content with their class status, David seems quite embarrassed by his, much to Amy’s annoyance. And David’s discomfort is further emphasised upon meeting the Cochranes and he desperately tries to reinvent himself and make himself appear more affluent and more cultured than he really is – although part of the reason for this reinvention is to woo Linda. It is Robert who realises that David isn’t quite who he says he is – and he gathers most of this information by looking at David’s tatty style of dressing and his one pair of shoes – not realising that the one pair of shoes is because Amy forgot to pack the others! The episode where Judith Chalmers and the Wish You Were Here team (another blast from the past!) arrive at the resort to film an episode of the hit travel show, produces much hilarity as David, desperate to impress as usual, drops his voice to appear more middle-class, while a furious Amy really plays up those northern vowels!

My memories – old and new!

Even at a very young age, I knew that David and Linda were very ‘naughty people’ and that David wasn’t very nice to Amy. I can now see that David was attracted to Linda because she was vibrant, exciting and glamorous, while Amy was too homely and mumsy. The way she fussed over David anyone would think she was his mother rather than his wife! And Linda was attracted to David because of the fanciful picture that he’s painted of himself in order to make himself look more dashing and cultured. And of course he was a huge improvement on boring Robert!

However that’s not to say that Amy isn’t also quite attractive. In fact by the time we reach the more final series, she becomes better looking  thanks to a new hairdo and wardrobe. Not only that but she’s extremely strong, feisty and gutsy. Many women would have walked out on their marriage as soon as hubby started playing away – but not Amy. She’s determined to fight for her marriage and proves to be more than a match for simpering, sappy Linda. Quite frankly, Amy can do a lot better than a weak man like David so I have no idea why she would want to hang on to him but the song Amy performs at the talent show in the final ever episode where she sings about not being able to help loving someone says it all.

An excited Amy and Linda get to meet Frazer Hines

An excited Amy and Linda get to meet Frazer Hines

 

I was amazed by just how much I remembered since the first time I watched Duty Free: The scene where Amy hurriedly stuffs an illicit note from Frazier Hines asking her to meet him in secret in her mouth and pretends she’s chewing on caramel; David sneaking into Linda’s room while she is sleeping and asking if she would like an ice-cream – only to find that he has woken a hysterical stranger as Amy very cunningly swapped room tags; the characters taking part in a talent show. But my favourite scene of all has to be from the very first episode when an irritated Amy shoves Linda into the fountain while attempting to take her photo. It was only when I watched the episode the second time, I saw that Amy had actually done it deliberately – and who could blame her?  A classic moment!

Amy and David Pearce

Amy and David Pearce

 

The humour was based on the same type of Fawlty Towers farce with lots of hiding in cupboards; sneaking down hallways; stashing incriminating evidence; coming up with the most outrageous lies in order to cover tracks… but for reasons I cannot understand, it hasn’t really stood the test of time. General opinion seems to be that it’s dated and unfunny. Dated, well that’s a matter of opinion (although it was thirty years ago so it’s never going to seem current!) but anyone who thinks it’s unfunny needs to listen to Amy’s one-liners. She had some classic howlers and Taylor’s delivery and timing was impeccable. There are however some questions which were never really answered: did David and Linda have a full-blown affair or did it never go beyond illicit snogs and holding hands? Was it true love or just lust? Was David’s marriage to Amy really over – or was this just a mid-life crisis? And why on earth did this couple continue to socialise together even after the affair was uncovered?

The fab four!

The fab four!

I’m also amazed that a show which featured the same holiday romance in the same holiday resort with the same holiday makers lasted three seasons! The second series picked up exactly where the first left off but what I liked about the third series was that it began a year after the holiday makers returned home and viewers get a glimpse of Amy and David’s life away from Spain. I remembered the first series much better than I remembered the other two so it was great to catch up. I don’t think I’ll leave it until another three decades before I watch Duty Free again and I am determined to see the Christmas special which I can recall ever so slightly. Whatever people may think about this comedy series, it will always have fond memories of it.

 

 

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Comedy Shows

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

Fresh Fields: Happy 30th Birthday

imagesG8M4PW6R

This week marks 30 years since Fresh Fields first hit our screens and I’ve just spent a fantastic few weeks watching all four series of the 1980s classic. As with Dear John and Streets Apart, it was a very nostalgic trip down memory lane to eighties bliss! I was very young when Fresh Fields was first shown on our screens, so even though I remember the British sit-com which ran from 1984 to 1989, I couldn’t remember very much about the show other than the fact that it starred the late Anton Rodgers and Julia McKenzie. In fact I remember it’s sequel French Fields much better – probably because I was a little older when it was broadcast.

The stars of the show Anton Rodgers and Julia McKenzie

The stars of the show Anton Rodgers and Julia McKenzie

Written by John Chapman, the show centres around William and Hester Fields, played by Rodgers and McKenzie; a devoted, middle-aged, married couple who live something of an idyllic life in Barnes, South-West London. They’ve been married for twenty years and have two adult children who have left home. William works hard as an accountant in the city in order to provide a good life for the two of them, while Hester is a housewife and looks after the home – and William! They share their beautiful home with Hester’s mother Nancy (played by Fanny Rowe) who lives in the granny flat at the bottom of the garden.

As husband and wife William and Hester Fields

As husband and wife William and Hester Fields

Much of the humour in the show comes from Hester’s non-stop methods of improving her life with a multitude of hobbies and interests in order to keep things ‘fresh’ and interesting and to fill the void that comes with empty-nest syndrome. Pottery, cooking courses fencing, keep-fit, painting, DIY… you name it, Hester’s tried it, although not always culminating in great results! She also throws herself into ventures such as delivering meals to the elderly and cooking in a restaurant. The opening credits set the tonefor the show: Hester and William are shown in silhouette form, with Hester being super active and on the go, trying out different activities while William is content just to sit and read the paper.

The other source of humour is Hester’s neighbour and best friend, Sonia (played by Ann Beach) who lets herself into the Fields’ home, especially at inconvenient times with her catchphrase ‘It’s only Sonia’ and is forever ‘borrowing’ things from the Fields with the intention of returning them but of course it never happens. Sonia grates on William to great comic effect but Hester is very fond of her and finds it hard to turn down any of her requests. Despite my initial reservations that Sonia was taking advantage of Hester’s generous nature, it gradually becomes evident that the two women do indeed share a strong bond.

http://youtu.be/zejGHTy_mQw

I also loved the sub-plot between Hester’s estranged parents Nancy and Guy (played by Fawlty Towers’ Ballard Berkeley) who divorced forty years earlier after Guy ran off with and eventually married another woman while Hester was a very young child. After all these years. Guy now plans to win Nancy back but Nancy is a very strong-willed, no-nonsense, straight-talking lady who claims that she has no interest in Guy but over the course of several episodes, viewers start to see her soften towards her errant ex-husband…

The late Fanny Rowe played Hester's mother Nancy

The late Fanny Rowe played Hester’s mother Nancy

Although the Field’s have two children, Tom and Emma, they never appear in the show, although Emma often phones her parents and can be heard to be rattling off a message at three hundred words per second! She eventually marries her live-in boyfriend Peter and the couple have a little boy named Guy after his great-grandfather. William and Hester’s son-in-law and baby grandson do make a few appearances – but without Emma.

Ballard Berkeley played Guy Penrose, Hester's father

Ballard Berkeley played Guy Penrose, Hester’s father

My memories of Fresh Fields when I was a child are very vague because growing up I only ever caught glimpses of the show. The only episode that rang any bells was the one where William had to rid the house of a spider as Hester was terrified of spiders. Comedies were a big deal in our household as my parents, especially my father, were huge fans of the genre but I don’t recall them talking about Fresh Fields as often as they talked about the other sit-coms of that time. But I’m glad that I got reacquainted with the show in adulthood because I think it’s a fantastic sit-com and now that I’m older, I can appreciate it more.

Daphne Oxenford who sadly passed away last year, played William's secretary Miss Denham

Daphne Oxenford who sadly passed away last year, played William’s secretary Miss Denham

There was so much I liked about the show that I don’t know where to begin. I loved the feel-good theme tune by Harry Stoneham. I also loved the chemistry between Rodgers and McKenzie. It was an amazing bit of casting as the two work very well together as a credible, married couple. I also adored their home in Barnes. By today’s standards it may appear dated but I could so see myself living in a place like that. And I thought it was sweet that Hester had such a close bond with her mother that she wanted her living with them. How many people could tolerate having their mother live with them? The supporting characters, which included Sonia’s husband John and William’s trusted secretary, Miss Denham played by Daphne Oxenford, were all a little eccentric in some way and they worked brilliantly together. Sonia proved to be extremely popular and in one episode, the studio audience even gave her a round of applause when she appeared.

Series 2TX 1984

But the show was also something of a shock to the system as it highlighted just how much times and society have changed in the last thirty years – which for me seems like only yesterday! I absolutely loved the Fields’ house but how many of us can afford a house like that today, complete with a granny flat for our dear old mum? How many of us even know who our neighbours are let alone socialise with them? A great fuss is made about the fact that William and Hester’s daughter is ‘living in sin’ with her boyfriend and gets pregnant before getting married but of course in the twenty first century, nobody would bat an eyelid. And Hester’s excitement when she gets a new cordless phone delivered had me in stitches! She and Sonia reminded me of a couple of kids who’d stumbled across a great source of magic. Goodness knows what they’d have made of the state-of-the-art mobile phones we can’t live without today. To be honest it’s a bigger surprise for me knowing that someone actually has a landline! Furthermore it’s refreshing to see a TV show with a happily married couple and no trace of infidelity – a rarity nowadays!

Ann Beach played sassy Sonia

Ann Beach played sassy Sonia

Strange as this may sound but Hester’s use of the word ‘housecoat’ took me back to my very early childhood when Mum had a black and white floral housecoat with bell sleeves and was very pretty. I don’t think anyone uses the word housecoat today as it would most definitely be a dressing gown or a robe. And incidentally the housecoat Hester wore was stunning – a beautiful blue number with angel sleeves I would love to get hold of for myself. Who said the eighties was the time that style forgot?

imagesVIEL1269

I’ve read reviews in which the show has been labelled ‘middle-of-the-road’ and a ‘good schedule filler’. Well I don’t know any schedule fillers which lasted for four series, won an international Emmy award and where the lead actress won the TV Times award for best female comedy performance for five consecutive years. Not bad for a ‘middle-of-the-road’ sit-com! Most of the show’s fans found Fresh Fields to be humorous and entertaining however, I do understand that during the early eighties, there was the emergence of an alternative brand of humour with shows such as The Young Ones and Not The Nine O’ Clock News which I think the younger generation of the time would have been more geared towards.

William has to sort out his dinner as Hester is off to her fencing class

William has to sort out his dinner as Hester is off to her fencing class

But there’s no denying that Fresh Fields was great family entertainment. Some of the highlights for me were Hester having to change literally en route to her daughter’s wedding; Sonia hosting a wine-tasting event at the Fields’ home where Hester runs into her glamorous blonde rival; William helping Hester with the catering at an event and having to hide from his clients; Hester’s run-ins with the law while delivering meals-on-wheels, and the final episode where Hester celebrated her forty-fifth birthday. And the episode where Emma’s parents-in-law invite themselves to stay over at the Fields’ actually made me cry – with laughter! I’m just sorry there weren’t more series of Fresh Fields. I’m even more sorrier that thirty years later it’s not mentioned as often as some of its contemporaries here in the UK as it’s such a brilliant bit of comedy. But I know it’s still remembered quite fondly in Australia and the United States.

fresh-fields-the-complete-series-4

But now that I’ve rediscovered it, I will most definitely watch it again. Boxed DVD set, here I come! And Happy thirtieth to you, Fresh Fields!

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Still Open All Hours: Nostalgia At It’s Best!

BBC viewers were treated to a mini trip down memory lane on Boxing Day this year in the form of a special one-off episode of Still Open All Hours based on the popular sit-com of the 70s and 80s Open All Hours. The original series starred the late Ronnie Barker and David Jason as the uncle and nephew team running a grocery store in Doncaster.

Over the years in our household, Open All Hours was hardly ever off the box. Even when the show ended in 1985, we would watch an endless stream of reruns and we even bought Dad the DVD collection one Christmas. It was definitely one of his favourite comedy programs and to this day he still laughs his head off as though he’s watching it for the first time. In fact my siblings used to joke that Dad was an awful lot like Arkwright, Ronnie Barker’s character – but a lot more generous!

Open All Hours was a relatively slow moving sit-com but that just reflected the pace of life in the sleepy Yorkshire suburbs and the fact the most of the customers who frequent the shop are old-fashioned, homely characters of a ‘certain age’. I didn’t always get the jokes due to being so young but I knew the show wasn’t low on humour.

Writer Roy Clarke who penned the original series has now brought the show into the twenty-first century with Granville, played by Jason, stepping into Arkwright’s overalls after having inherited the shop from his late uncle, and he is now assisted by his son, Leroy (James Baxter.)

Although Still Open All Hours is set in 2013, it could well be back in the 70s as nothing seems to have changed at all. Very little is different about the shop which is still called Arkwright’s; I’m sure the overall’s Granville’s wearing could very well be the same ones Arkwright wore; the clapped out old bike along with the cash register which is in danger of guillotining your fingertips are still there. Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, Mavis and Mrs. Featherstone are still regulars, and the put-upon errand boy still exists but it’s now Leroy instead of Granville – with the former finding a novel way to make deliveries thus avoiding the dodgy bike!

 

I’m glad that this new episode didn’t stray too far from the original formula which is what sometimes happens when a show returns after a hiatus of several years. The show’s distinctive theme tune, “Alice, Where Art Thou?” appears to have remained unchanged and not revamped for the twenty-first century (thank goodness!) And not only was it great to see some of the old regulars but I’m thrilled that they were played by the permanent cast members from the original series: Lynda Baron (Nurse Gladys) Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone and Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis.) It would have been lovely, however, to have seen the return of the milk woman, with whom Granville had once had a romantic liaison. Mrs. Blewett’s absence was also noted but Kathy Staff, the actress who played her had sadly passed away back in 2008. It just wouldn’t have been the same to see another actress step into her shoes.

Still Open All Hours saw Granville unsuccessfully trying to shift copious amounts of anchovy paste (“They’re staunch potted meat round here, ” declared Nurse Gladys) and eventually managing to sell a couple of tins by claiming that they had aphrodisiac properties. This echoes Arkwright’s ginger cake situation which many viewers remembered (not me, so I’m going to have to watch Open All Hours Again!) And whereas Granville had to grow up dealing with an absent father, history repeats itself slightly with Leroy having to deal with an absent mother after having been abandoned by her as a child. And of course, shop closing time just before the credits still exists with the voice over that begins “It’s been a funny old day…” Classic!

However, the presence of new characters prevented the old format from becoming tired and stale. Granville now has a grown-up son Leroy, who helps run the grocery store with him. But unlike his father, he has more success with the ladies. There are also ethnic characters – something that was missing from the original series – which reflects the cultural diversity in Yorkshire. ‘Wet’ Eric provided some of the biggest laughs in this episode, and we also met Mrs. Agnew, Granville’s potential new love interest and the tea salesman among a whole host of characters.

Fans of the original show didn’t have time to miss Arkwright because although he sadly wasn’t physically present, writers made sure he was very much there in spirit. His overalls are still in use; there is a photo of him hanging up at the back of the shop which shows him looking almost demonic as he watches over his beloved shop; Granville’s impersonation of his late uncle’s stammer was spot on, and then there are the constant references to Arkwright by Granville, Nurse Gladys and Mrs. Featherstone. In addition to all this, it seems that as well as inheriting Arkwright’s shop and overalls, Granville seems to have morphed into his late uncle. He’s become as penny-pinching and desperate to make a sale as Arkwright. He also harps on about the merits of the old cash register and bike to Leroy in an attempt to get him to use them – but won’t go near them himself! As Nurse Gladys declared, “You’re an old tightwad like your uncle… he trained you well.” The transformation of Granville’s character is understandable on many levels. However, it means that while a great job was done to ensure that we didn’t feel Arkwright’s absence – I did miss Granville; the old Granville who was somewhat bumbling and a bit of a dreamer.

There were a few things that I found strange. Granville says to Nurse Gladys that in time Arkwright would have married her but I’m almost certain that Arkwright did marry Gladys. I remember an absolutely hilarious episode where Arkwright and Gladys got married – while Arkwright wore Gladys’s trousers! Furthermore, the character Cyril who was originally played by Tom Mennard is now played by Kulvinder Ghir!

But there was still so much to like about Still Open All Hours: the array of famous faces including Ghir, Nina Wadia, Sally Lindsay, Brigit Forsyth and Johnny Vegas who played ‘Wet’ Eric; the ‘aah’ factor came in the form of a dog who was sent on a shopping errand and Mrs. Featherstone taking Granvile by surprise with an unexpected snog was hilarious. Admittedly, there wasn’t much of a strong storyline; it was more of an introduction to the characters and a summary of the events that had occurred in Granville’s life but then what more could be done in a thirty minute slot? David Jason is adamant that Still Open All Hours is a one-off – there will not be a series following. However according to Wikipedia “If viewer reaction is favourable, the programme may return for a full series in 2014.”            

We’ll have to wait and see who’s right. Reviews have been fairly mixed but for the most part it seems to have been very well received and many viewers have said that they thoroughly enjoyed it; it was a great piece of nostalgia; and Ronnie Barker would have been proud. I agree with all of the above and feel it was definitely the best thing on TV during the festive season. How would I feel about an entire series? I have mixed feelings about it having seen numerous comebacks and spin-offs being ill-recived but given the success of the one episode, it could work. Roy Clarke apparently wrote the script for Still Open All Hours in two weeks – and it’s been brilliant. He has done a fantastic job – I always did say the old comedies are the best.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Comedy Shows

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Felix Dexter: A Life Full Of Laughs

Felix Dexter

Felix Dexter

I was shocked and saddened to hear that comedy genius, Felix Dexter, had lost his battle against cancer at the age of 52 earlier this month. Felix played a huge part in my teenage years when he shot to fame as part of the multi-cultural comedy sketch show The Real McCoy back in the 1990s. It was something that all my friends at school used to watch during weekday evenings and we would laugh about it at school the next day.

With the cast of The Real McCoy

With the cast of The Real McCoy

Felix created a series of hilarious characters of which at least one would appear in an episode every week. There was the nightclub doorman who was dating a “white babe;” Douglas, the Patois speaking lawyer; Nathaniel, the Nigerian accountancy student; Samuel, the retired ticket collector; ‘Owl, the widower who thought life was better in the 1950s… and that’s not even a fraction of Felix’s memorable comedy skits. I also remember his one-off show that was shown by the BBC entitled It’s Felix, in which Felix played a number of his famous characters. I was watching it with my family on a Friday evening and goodness knows what the neighbours thought with all the non-stop howling that was filtering through the walls!

Nathaniel, one of Felix's best-loved characters

Nathaniel, one of Felix’s best-loved characters

Felix Dexter wasn’t just a comedian; the St. Kitts-born star was also a versatile actor having appeared in Absolutely Fabulous, Bellamy, The Fast Show, The Bill, Casualty, Jonathan Creek, Crapston Villas… and the list goes on. Felix can still currently be seen on screen in BBC comedy, Citizen Khan. Despite his many acting roles and undeniable talent, it his ability to make us laugh and his skill of being able to observe people and create realistic and funny characters for which he will be best remembered. What’s amazing is that entertainment wasn’t Felix’s original career choice as he had trained and worked as a barrister. However his true calling was in performance and it’s fantastic that he realized that and was able to fulfil his ambitions. Going back to a time when political correctness was more over the top than it is now, it’s amazing that Felix was fearless enough to play on racial stereotypes – and get plenty of laughs.

Lawyer Douglas

Lawyer Douglas

Unfortunately, the laughter stopped on 18th October when Felix took his last breath. tributes came in from the world of entertainment. Those who knew him said that he wasn’t just an extremely funny man but he was incredibly warm, kind and generous. To his fans, he’ll be remembered as a comedy legend; for those who knew him, he has left behind memories of a truly remarkable man.

In Citizen Khan

In Citizen Khan

Felix – we’ll miss you. Thanks for the years of entertainment and laughter. I hope you’re making them laugh in Heaven.

gingham-apron-pie-lady2

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
rock, metal and more

All about music and other entertainment

Murder Mystery Blog

Corporate Murder Mysteries

LHB Blog

A girl, a blog and a cactus named Pudding

Tangled Up In Music

Music Reviews

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

YOU & HOME

Deco · Gastro · Style

vinnieh

Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

The Artisan Duck

Ramblings from my crafty corner.

Suburbiakid's Blog

Teen Ramblings from a suburban kid in the 1970's

My Eighties

Remembering what it was like to grow up in the '80s. Twitter: @MyEighties

Something Definitely Happened

A vintage fashion and style blog

Health News Library

Your On-Line Source for Alternative Health Care Solutions

My Berkeley Bowl

Making my way through the exotic fruits and vegetables of the Berkeley Bowl aisles, one delicious recipe at a time

Fitness on Toast

A Fitness Blog about Gym Training, Sport Fashion, Healthy Nutrition and Active Travel – By Faya Nilsson

Insidethelifeofmoi

An eccentric blogger with a pen and a thousand ideas

Cinema Parrot Disco

Musings on Mainly Movies from a Table 9 Mutant

Radical Departures

Infrequent blabbering about films, music, telly, beauty, Sheffield and other random stuff

goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

~~~ lovely buns ~~~

~simple, delicious, beautiful, scrumptious bits and bobs to eat~

The Nostalgia Blog

Your source for everything retro. 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond!

Charlotte Fox

Style, Beauty, Tips, Tricks & Travel

The Sconnoisseurs

Recipes and Recommendations

Midday With Mindy

Encouraging Words From A Young Wife :)

Enjoy by Paula

be happy, healthy & radiate positivity

%d bloggers like this: