The Great British Sitcom: For The Love Of Ada

Mel O'Drama

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One random thing that I've meant to comment on as the series went along was that a lot of the archetypes remind me of those later seen in Prisoner. Let me count the ways:

Fletch/Bea
OK - Fletch wasn't top dog, but he was respected by the others, protected the underdogs, challenged authority and was willling to go toe-to-toe with anyone when necessary

Godber/Doreen
The green young ingenue under the wing of the more experienced.

Mackay/Vinegar Tits
The hard-faced authoritarian martinet who makes life tougher for the prisoners.

Barrowclough/Meg
The "good cop" screw who places their trust in the prisoners. Sometimes when they shouldn't.

Blanco/Lizzie
The loveable older prisoner who isn't as sweet as they'd have others think.

Venables/Erica
The prison governor whose efficacy seems to be regularly called into question by screws and prisoners alike.



There are probably heaps more if I wanted to look for them.
 

AndyB2008

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Speaking of Prisoner, Antoinette Byron, aka Susie Driscoll's roommate Amanda Cole (that around the time Maggie Kirkpatrick debuted in the show), was to be in a prison-themed sitcom herself later when she was one of the main cast of Women in Prison.

It was one of the early primetime shows for Fox, as they only programmed on Saturday and Sunday back then.

Sadly Women in Prison, like On the Rocks earlier, was hampered by a ghastly timeslot, as it aired against 227 on Saturday nights. Didn't help WIP's lead-in was Boys Will Be Boys, the revamped version of Second Chance, which was still struggling to get an audience. So WIP would be against it even without 227. (The early Fox shows on Saturdays struggled against the NBC sitcom block)
 
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AndyB2008

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Actually it was called Second Chance before the rebrand to Boys Will Be Boys (as a correction - didn't rebrand to BWBB until early 1988), but still that show had poor ratings either way (despite an early role for Matthew Perry), and in turn handed a poor lead-in to Women in Prison, which had it hard anyway considering 227 was the competition.

In addition to Antoinette, Denny Dillon was part of the cast. She was better known for her role in the infamous 1980 season of NBC's Saturday Night Live - you know, where they brought Jean Doumanian on as producer, and Charles Rocket swore on the episode Charlene Tilton hosted, prompting a revamp halfway (with cast members fired - Gail Matthius went on to voice on Tiny Toon Adventures post SNL, and was also in the sketch show Assaulted Nuts with William Sadler, who went on to star in Die Hard 2 and Bill and Ted later) and then pulled altogether.
 
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Mel O'Drama

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What else to follow on from Porridge but the sequel series...


As with Porridge, I've never watched Going Straight. I knew it existed (though I'm not sure how) but, unlike Porridge, I don't believe I ever even caught this one on TV even briefly. It's one of those series that feels elusive to the point of being legendary.

What did I know about it going in? Well, it's short (one series, six episodes); Barker plays Fletch in his life after Slade; Patricia Brake returns to play Ingrid. That was about it up to last week when I stumbled upon another couple of spoilers including one regarding the final episode. But not to worry. It's about the journey not the destination.

Speaking of the journey, I appreciated the entire first episode of Going Straight was set on a train ride as Fletch travelled home. That much of the episode was a conversation between Fletch and Mackay was a lovely callback to both Prisoner and Escort and the final scene of Porridge. As a standalone piece, I didn't find Going Home as clever or as intimate as Prisoner and Escort, (too many distractions and additional characters coming and going for that) but perhaps I'm pointlessly comparing apples and oranges.

However, since I've started I'll say in Going Home's favour that I really appreciated the vast majority of the episode being confined to one location from which the occupants can't escape. As well as giving it a nice stagey quality it also gives some continuity from Porridge, the best of which often took place between two characters in a locked prison cell.

I also enjoyed that both Mackay and Fletch were facing up to a new start without their respective roles and uniforms, with Mackay's enforced retirement at 55 (which came with a digital clock) meaning he, too, would be looking for work. The common ground between added to the subtextual intimacy and respect. I felt there was also a bit of ambiguity with Mackay being on the same train. He claimed he'd forgotten his journey would coincide with Fletch's release, but I found myself wondering if it was - consciously or otherwise - because he wanted to say a kind of goodbye to his old sparring partner of whom he'd perhaps grown quite fond.

I'm not sure if this is the last we'll see of Mackay. I kind of hope not, but then it's difficult to think of a reason why he'd appear in Fletch's life again unless his new job is as a probation officer in London or something. If this is farewell, Going Home certainly makes a fitting ending for the character, even if we're left to wonder what he'll do next.

It was a really nice touch (well, TWO nice touches, really) that we first joined Fletch in his cell having a chat with McLaren. I found myself wondering if the prison cell set was rebuilt just for this one scene. Either way, this kind of continuity helps the series feel like a genuinely well thought out sequel rather than a cash in or knock off. Throw in that a number of other characters were name-checked during that scene with Mclaren (Lukewarm was in trouble again, just months after his own release) and it really felt that Going Straight is truly connected.

In addition to Ingrid, I know of one other Porridge character who'll appear in this series. I'm also excited at the prospect that there might be one or two other returnees. Even if not, though, I'm looking forward to seeing the tone of the series proper once Fletch is ensconced in his new habitat.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Another two episodes down means I'm now already halfway through the series with the standard format becoming established now Fletch has made it home.

Certainly compared with Porridge, Going Straight feels like a more traditional domestic sitcom. Many of the elements could be seen in its peers of the era. There's the sassy, winsome daughter who gives her father palpitations with her mini skirts and long-haired ex-con lover. And the dopey teenage son with what Fletch calls his "National Health acne".

But since we're seeing life through the prism of Fletch there's an enjoyable distortion to it. Certainly it's very non-traditional in the best ways.

Since Fletch's wife has run off with a friend who has a cardboard empire there's no sitcom Mum to pull things together. That role falls to Porridge returnee, with Patricia Brake channelling Barbara Windsor using her RADA Cockney accent while chewing gum as though her life depended on it, giving her nails what for with an emery board or spitting onto her hand to test the temperature of the iron. Anything to show us she's working class. And I like it.

Helping continuity from the preceding series, her lover is none other than Godber. He could have felt shoehorned in had the groundwork not been so carefully laid throughout the entire run of Porridge.

Padding out the cast as dopey son Raymond is Nicholas Lyndhurst in a typical early role which pre-dates his dopey son on Butterflies by some months. It's been an impressive performance as he radiates apathy and boredom with every line making it feel real and funny both at the same time. Even at this young age he seems aware that his pallid tones and his tall, lankness are inherently funny - especially as he looms over Barker's squat, round frame. The writers are aware of this too, with lines about Fletch being able to spot his son following him to the shops because his ears stuck out either side of the lamppost he hid behind. This awareness means Lyndhurst's his performance is dialled right down and there's never any sense of him "doing" comedy or trying to be funny. Which makes it all the funnier.

Indeed, much of the series is played completely straight, with a refreshing lack of forced comedy, running gags, catchphrases, winks to the audience or gurning that some might be tempted to employ. The third episode, for example, had some lengthy scenes between Fletch and a runaway girl that felt very much like Corrie of the era. There's some wry humour peppered in the dialogue, but watching many of these scenes without the laughter of the studio audience one could easily be watching a nicely-observed dramatic piece of the era. The girl wasn't a particularly great actress, but that felt authentic to the era as well. And despite its relatively "sorted" ending, there's some genuine pathos and cynicism along the way.

That's not to say the series is without bigger moments of comedy gold. The second episode has a plot with Fletch planning to dig up the ill-gotten gains of a bank job he'd done before going inside, only to discover that he's been pipped to the post by a housing developer and his spot is now marked by the doorstep of a newly-built house. It's uncannily reminiscent of the plot and premise of The Big Job, a really funny pseudo Carry On from 1975, but because of this series' grounded nature and the established character of Fletch that's quickly forgotten and it has its own special little twist. In this case, Fletch - having been confronted carrying his shovel - is forced to dig a pond for the owner on the boggy ground that will become the man's lawn. And this after getting blisters digging his own garden when Ingrid had confronted him about the same shovel. What's more, the writing acknowledges that the loot is probably no longer in situ, and Godber comments there are probably "a couple of Irish drain layers livin' in the lap of luxury in Palma by now" It's bittersweet. Fletch has lost something and still has his money worries, but he's been kept on the straight and narrow - even if only by fate.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Two more down - just one to go.

I'm really impressed with how gradually the new format is unfolding. It's taken us to now to establish Fletch in his new role as night porter at The Dolphin Hotel, along with a few (potentially recurring) faces in Mr McEwan the manager, Pamela the receptionist with attitude and Mrs Appleby an upper crust regular who chooses - for whatever reason - to frequent this rather grubby establishment.

Lennie and Ingrid's engagement came pretty much out of nowhere in the fifth episode, setting up the final episode, which I'm looking forward to watching.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Going Straight came to a satisfying end last night with Lennie and Ingrid marrying in the final episode.

For me, the best part of the episode - and indeed the entire series - came somewhere in the second half of the episode in the form of a lengthy one-to-one scene between Fletch and Lennie. It evoked Porridge at its best. Then as here, the conversation - with Fletch reclining on his bed and Lennie standing nearby - covered a lot of ground and was played more or less completely straight.

What's more, it was nuanced and layered and reinforced what a brilliantly character driven piece this is. It started out as an angry exchange between the two over a disagreement, but ended with Fletch telling Lennie he's glad Lennie is marrying his daughter and Godber saying how proud he is to see Fletch making an earnest attempt to go straight.

Even this comes with a layer of poignancy and tragedy, because Fletch has just taken up the offer to be part of a big heist on a bank. He can't tell Lennie, but he also struggles to look him in the eye. This is taken to another level when on the day of the job - and the wedding - he dives into a pet shop as part of a hastily made up alibi when he's seen by someone he knows and looks round at all the caged animals, sympathising with them having spent many years of his own life behind bars. It's really nicely shot.

Fletch turning down the job and truly going straight feels like something that's been hard won. It only clicked with me after watching each episode that this isn't just a series about a man trying to turn down weekly temptation and having a few narrow escapes along the way (though it is both), but a series about a man genuinely trying to be free of his past and try to walk a different path even though that uncharted territory holds fear for him.

At just six episodes, Going Straight still managed to make its mark, and the journey of Fletch and Godber over the course of two different titles and more than five years has been one well worth taking.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I rounded off the series with the Britain's Best Sitcom episode focussing on Porridge. I wasn't expecting much but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a lot of reminders about just why it's so brilliant, plus it was nice to revisit clips from the series and to hear other fans' opinions on it.

Tonight I also watched the Porridge film. I was expecting a greatest hits type affair, but there weren't a whole lot of familiar lines. There was one lifted directly from the Fletch/Godber bedroom two-hander from the final episode of Going Straight, when Lennie told Fletch he was "getting on my goat", only to be corrected. That dialogue and the following few lines was identical.

A few absent friends and at least one recast (with Geoffrey Bayldon as the Governor, and Slade itself looking very different inside and out). But nicely consistent and better than other film spin-offs from TV sitcoms.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Already I find myself looking forward to a second Christmas special and no doubt a Fourth Series.

I watched said Christmas special last night and really enjoyed it. Great to see Jennifer Saunders as Fanny's Mother (the performance of Fanny herself has always felt modelled on Jennifer, so it seems very right indeed).
 

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I have very little memory of watching this show Going Straight although I do remember "Rodney" playing his son

On Xmas Eve watched an old Porridge, where they had a day out digging ditches for the council and taking shleter in the Church, was so good, Ronnie B really was the "Guv'nor" as David Jason said
 

Mel O'Drama

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I have very little memory of watching this show Going Straight although I do remember "Rodney" playing his son

Yes, I don't think it was repeated that much, and certainly not as much as Porridge. Perhaps because there are only six episodes. I definitely found it worth it to wrap up Fletch and Lennie's stories.



On Xmas Eve watched an old Porridge, where they had a day out digging ditches for the council and taking shleter in the Church, was so good,

That was a good one. This was mentioned in the retrospective I watched a few days ago. Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais said they did episodes like this early in the run because they were worried people might find the prison setting too oppressive, but as they realised it worked they got more confident about confining it mostly to the prison.



Ronnie B really was the "Guv'nor"

He certainly was.
 

Mel O'Drama

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With Fletch and co. now behind me, I've been able to go back to the first episode of 7 of 1 to watch the pilot of what would become my next series.


I've changed the experience by watching this way. Because 7 of 1 feels so far away, I'm comparing this more with the episodes to come in the series rather than on its own merits alongside the likes of I'll Fly You For A Quid and My Old Man. And on this level it can't help feeling a little off, because of it coming three years before the first proper series, necessitating some significant tweaks for the series proper.

Firstly, the shop itself is different from the one we'll come to know. It's on a completely different street in a completely different part of the country. Which means Nurse Gladys Emmanuel's house is also very different. As is Nurse Gladys herself. She's played here by Sheila Brennan, rather than Lynda Barron. And she comes with an Irish accent (at least I think it's Irish. At times it sounds Scottish. It's so patchy and peculiar it almost sounds like a poor attempt at an Irish accent, though it seems Brennan herself is from Dublin).

There are a couple of familar faces. Customers in this first episode include a pre-Mildred Yootha Joyce (returning her empties in her pram) and young Cheggers himself, enquiring if Arkwright has a frozen Zoom (a double entendre it might be, but it has yet another meaning in 2021).

The characters of Arkwright and Granville are well and truly established here, just as we'll experience them week after week in the regular series. And Roy Clarke's writing is absolutely knockout. There are many wonderfully wry and pithy lines in this first episode, as established in the very first scene:

Arkwright: "I hope you're not abusing your health, are ya? You look to me as if you could do with a good night's sleep."
Granville: "Aye, I could. But we always 'ave to get up in the middle of it."
Arkwright: "Listen. You ca-can't be lyin' in bed with customers passin' the door. 'Ave you no sense of avarice, lad?"
Granville: "I'm not a lad anymore...I'm twenty five, you know."
Arkwright: "Oh. That bang we 'eard was you goin' through puberty, was it? I thought we 'ad a slate off."


Arkwright: "Nobody liked Wesley Cosgrave even at school. He 'ad that brand of Christianity that was worse than B.O. "


Mrs Scully: "Would ya give me 'alf a bottle of sherry for our Claudine."
Arkwright: "Well, it sounds a fair exchange, yes."
Mrs Scully "She's very upset. 'Er young man's just broke it off. "
[Arkwright stands bolt upright and looks shocked]





There are also some very Seventies references that serve as a nice little time capsule to a different age:

Mrs Scully: "I think he misses work sometimes."
Arkwright: "Sometimes? He misses it every ruddy time."
Mrs Scully: "Oh, come on. 'E can be thoughtful. I've seen him with tears in his eyes while I've been lyin' there in pain. He's sobbed, Mr Arkwright."
Arkwright: "Well, you wanna hit him back."


Arkwright: "Watch out for 'er at number ten. She's liable to be 'er at number eight. They're still swapping."





From a 2021 perspective it seems a bold move for the main character to have a stammer. And a risky one, too. But it's perfect for Ronnie B, tying in nicely with the material he'd write for himself in The Two Ronnies such as the president of the Loyal Society for the Relief of Suffers from Pismronunciation, and other characters and sketches. Clarke's writing around it works in tandem with Ronnie's skills, with Arkwright stammering at the points guaranteed to make the audience chuckle. For example:

Arkwright: "Hey, G-G-Granville. 'Ave you been courtin' again? Mrs Scully said it c-could've been you she saw comin' out of their Margaret..." [pause]
Granville: "You what?"
Arkwright: "....'s place on Frith Street. Let me finish willya?"


Granville: "There's more to life than possessions."
Arkwright: "Ohh. Been watching B-B-B-B-BBC2, have we?"

Arkwright: "If they make this bread any whiter I'll 'ave to wear dark glasses... That's how they third degree you now, you know. Oh yes, they lock you in a tiny cell, an' then they flash a slice of this bread in front of your naked eye..." [pause]
Granville: "People like it white."
Arkwright: "...Balls. [Granville and the Bread Man look shocked] Naked eyeballs. I wish you'd let me finish, sometimes."


Again, I can't imagine this would fly today, but it's done in such an endearing way that it never feels cruel or mocking. At least not so far.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Well, thanks to my current preoccupation with the Marvel Cinematic Universe my Open All Hours rewatch is bubbling along very slowly indeed. I'm watching an average of just one and a bit episodes a day.

Because of the site crash I'm not sure when I last watched the series, but it would be 2015 or earlier (according to the dates on my photos, I visited the exterior location for the shop in December 2015, and that was some time after my previous watch).

One thing I do remember about watching last time was that I found Granville increasingly irritating as the series went along. The same has happened this time.

While Series One was fine, it feels very much as though David Jason's role was significantly increased beginning with Series Two. This is understandable since there were five years between Series One and Two and Jason would have probably been more of a "name" by this point (Only Fools And Horses began some months after Series Two of OAH). All the same, some of the Granville scenes are the least enjoyable parts of the series for me. It's one thing for Arkwright to stammer but, the way it's played, Granville imitating him feels cruel to me. There's also the matter of David Jason being very obviously in his forties while playing a twenty-something errand boy, which makes the character's permanent teen angst and awkwardness feel disingenuous. Then there's all the mugging and gurning and overacting. I think the kindest thing to say is I'm not really a David Jason fan and that colours how I view his characters (to add balance, I'll add that I do love me some Danger Mouse and Duckula).

Ronnie Barker is just magic, though. Porridge may be considered his greatest sitcom (and probably rightly so), but Arkwright is one of his finest characterisations because he's just so convincing in the role it's actually difficult to see any of Ronnie Barker in him at all. Each line is played to perfection. Despite having been impressed by him again and again over the last eight months in my viewing of The Two Ronnies and other related works, I find myself unable to get enough of his brilliant characterisations.

The smaller roles, too, have been great, with lots of familiar faces. Kathy Staff's wonderful Mrs Blewett has been superceded by Stephanie Cole as the Black Widow Mrs Featherstone. Each interacts brilliantly in their visits to the shop. And of course Lynda Baron is so good as Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, cutting Arkwright down to size each time she opens her mouth.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Open All Hours came to a quiet end yesterday, still funny and enjoyable thanks to Ronnie Barker delivering Roy Clarke dialogue with perfection.

All the same, it does feel that it's time to call it a day. Four series and twenty six episodes (over twelve years) is a good number, but it was starting to feel its age with a few repetitive gags. And with Series Four, Granville seemed to get at least as much screen-time as Arkwright, which isn't the series I want to watch.
 

Mel O'Drama

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My next sojourn is a logical one:


The Magnificent Evans once again pairs Roy Clarke's writing with Ronnie Barker's note-perfect performance: a match made in heaven.

We return to the Welsh setting Ronnie so loved in his earlier pilot I'll Fly You For A Quid. He does a great Welsh accent and it's clear he enjoys getting stuck into this character who comes with his own straight-talking eccentricities.

The combination of locals - randy men, women in short skirts, tight-lipped gossiping prudes, henpecked husbands - feels typical for Clarke of the era. Paired with the rugged village set in the scenic valley, Last Of The Summer Wine springs to mind.

There are also Clarke's running gags: Sharon Morgan making sure everyone knows she has her "own apartment" in the house she sinfully shares with her lover; the ever-stuck door on the car which forces Sharon to hike up her skirt in order to climb in and out under the appreciative gaze of Plantagenet and Willie; Plantagenet upsetting some local with his brutal honesty; the creaking step making a farting sound every time someone exits the shop. It's a format that feels very Roy Clarke. It's also yielded some nice, pithy one-liners which have his stamp all over.

Either the first few episodes lacked sparkle or it's taken a while for me to settle into the format, but it seems to be getting a little funnier as it goes along. Not side-splittingly funny, but enough to make the brief visit enjoyable.Already I'm two thirds of the way through its six episodes. At this point I can understand why it didn't continue past the sixth episode, but at the same time it feels as though it hasn't reached its full potential and I'm looking forward to rounding the series off, even though the episodes will be formulaic and predictable - in the best kind of way.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Rounding off my Barkerthon is his final sitcom...


Beginning my watch with 1971's The Removals Person (from the anthology series Six Dates With Barker) then the first episode of Clarence proved an interesting experiment since they're exactly the same show. It's not all that unusual for short plays to be remade with a few tweaks, but what sets this apart is that the two lead actors have returned to the same roles. Well, near enough.

Ronnie's removals person was named "Fred" in 1971, and the supporting players - Jane Travers's nasty, snobby, self-involved employers - are played by different actors. Other than that, Episode One of Clarence is an almost word for word reshoot of The Removals Person. I did spot a few tiny changes to delivery (perhaps with a few ad libs in each of the episodes) and a racist epithet was changed to something more palatable for 1988 sensibilities. There were some minor changes to rhythms.

In both shows, Ronnie and Josephine Tewson sparkle. They've worked together numerous times and their ease with one another comes across strongly. You can tell that it's done very quickly, and it's all the better for it. It has a spontaneous, "live" feel to it, and they're very generous with one another.

The second episode of the 1988 series moves the premise organically forward by moving the characters to the countryside for a trial of living together in a cottage Jane has inherited, with her working hard to ensure there's no hanky panky (this is 1937 after all).

While The Removals Person was written by Hugh Leonard, Clarence is penned by one Bob Ferris.


In reality this is one of Ronnie Barker's pen names. Surprisingly, there's a lot less of the wordplay - Spoonerisms and whatnot - that he's so good at. Instead he follows the tone set by Leonard in the original play. Ronnie's interest in vintage comedy comes across well. I believe he was a collector of Donald McGill postcards, and there is this slightly saucy undercurrent that works well with this era. But the situational stuff also owes a debt to the likes of Laurel & Hardy, and of course there's the whole Mr Magoo aspect with his myopic mishaps. It feels very true to the era with wonderful set dressings and costumes, and enough location work to make it feel expensive. I also like the watercolours that morph into real-life to establish new scenes.

There's a really nice soundtrack featuring era-appropriate songs, and Ronnie seems really aware of the pop culture of the time (an episode I watched last night had them naming their rabbits after the dwarfs in that "new" film from "the man who does Mickey Mouse" (Snow White was indeed released in 1937).

A particularly enjoyable aspect for me is the lengthy scenes. Some of the episodes feature only Ronnie and Josephine doing their thing together, and it's enthralling. The occasional supporting roles are cast with care and fit in perfectly. Anne Rye as the vicar's formidable wife is perfect.

I'm already two thirds of the way through the series proper. It's a shame there were only six, as this feels like a series that could have run. But at least it's available on DVD.

 

Mel O'Drama

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I wonder whether he got the name from Rodney Bewes's character in The Likely Lads.

It seems he did. At least according to Wikipedia:

written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym "Bob Ferris" as an acknowledgement to Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, creators of Porridge.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Clarence came to a quiet end with Clarence and Travers heading off to get married. The actual wedding was shown in photographs over the end credits, and I couldn't help wondering if this was always the plan. Was the intention for the series to end here, or was it dictated? Either way, it felt reasonably satisfying and a fitting end to an enjoyable-but-brief series.
 

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Next up, an old series that's all-new to me...



I must admit I selected For The Love Of Ada as my next series as it wasn't something I felt particularly excited about. It was swiped hastily from the shelf as something to watch in between my current "main event" of Marvel Cinematic Universe films and series episodes, and was chosen primarily because it looked like a time-passer - one of those things to watch last thing at night when the last thing the brain needs is stimulation. And it fits that bill.

Ron Grainer's charming, gentle theme tune lures one in. It's sweet and almost fragile, which on the surface seems curiously at odds with the larger than life characters, but it works well. Harry Driver and Vince Powell's writing is very human and natural and all of it comes together - broad characters and all - to create something that's every bit as charming as the music promises.

The cast is all very familiar, and the dynamics feel not that far removed from the writers' already up-and-running sitcom, Nearest And Dearest. I don't think I've seen Wilfred Pickles in anything before, but his name as well as his face feels very familiar. Barbara Mitchell is someone I've watched relatively recently as Frankie Abbott's smothering mother in Please Sir! and The Fenn Street Gang. Jack Smethurst is another familar name and face, though not someone I associate with one particular role (yet. I do have his controversial role in Love Thy Neighbour lined up to watch at some point). Looking at IMDB I suspect he might be most familiar to me from a small role in early Eighties Corrie.

Then there's Irene Handl, who seems to play Irene Handl in every role she takes. She frequently fluffs her lines and corpses visibly every once in a while, yet it all gets worked in as part of her schtick and seems quite endearing. It does make me wonder what she was like to work with. It's interesting to see that other actors sometimes respond to her corpsing by smiling themselves and it creates a real warmth that might be absent if there was a re-take. It also shows the professionalism of the cast, since I suspect it was filmed pretty quickly, but it's only Handl who's missed beats when it comes to perfect delivery.

The cast is small, creating a play-like tone, but supporting guests are chosen carefully. Most notably, future Summer Wine regular John Comer played the hotel manager in Episode Three.

In addition to the sets (including the outdoors indoors cemetery set) there's also been more location work than expected, including a trip to a wet and windy Bognor, which was most welcome.
 
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