On this day (13th January)

Series one of A Bit of Fry and Laurie began airing on BBC2 in 1989.

Following a pilot episode in 1987, ABoFaL began in earnest today. Whilst you could argue that series four was a little below par, the rest (and this first series especially) continues to hit the mark for me.

The pair’s love of Python has always been plain (breaking the fourth wall as a matter of course) and there’s very little chaff in this opening edition. ‘Bitchmother, Come Light My Bottom’ indeed.

The White Wedding, the first episode of A Bit of a Do, was broadcast on ITV.

What are the chances that two new A Bit Of series should have both begun on the same evening?

Adapted by David Nobbs from his novels, A Bit of a Do is a series that I’ve always enjoyed coming back to, although there’s a definite iciness about it. All of the main characters are flawed and none are particularly likeable – although over time most are allowed to display their vulnerable sides.

Given the repetition inherent in the format (most episodes end with a shattering revelation and either a drunken Betty or Rodney saying something that they shouldn’t) it’s not the sort of programme that you want to binge-watch, but if you take an episode each week then it slips by very nicely.

Having concentrated on playing Del Boy for most of the 1980’s, A Bit of a Do was a reminder that Jason could do more. Although it’s true that he’s not stretched too far here as the vain Ted Simcock (a man frequently forced to endure humiliations) is the sort of role well within his comfort zone. Having said that, Jason never disappoints though and his comic timing is always spot on.

You can’t grumble about the rest of the main cast either – Gwen Taylor, Nicola Pagett, Paul Chapman, Michael Jayston, Stephanie Cole, Tim Wylton – and there are some lovely cameos and smaller roles across the series (Keith Marsh as Percy Spragg in this episode, for example).

Today’s the anniversaries of the births of Ian Hendry and Jack Watling. For Mr Watling I think another viewing of HancockThe Lift is in order, whilst Mr Hendry will be represented by Battleground, the final episode of Village Hall. If you don’t own either series of Village Hall, then this is a reminder that you really should – both are excellent.


6 thoughts on “On this day (13th January)

  1. David Jason definately had a popular month on the box in January 1989. At the same time as ‘A Bit of a Do’ made it’s debut, the sixth series of Only Fools & Horses began it’s original Sunday night run.

    Although opinion is divided about when OF&H’s was at it’s best, many fans regard the 1988/89 era as the pinnacle of the show, before the Trotter men became domesticated with their female partners.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never found Only Fools and Horses funny. But I thought the episode where Rodney got married would be the last one as it was the end of their bachelor lifestyle


      • I read one of the OF&H’s companions and Series 5 in 1986 was actually going to be the last of the show which would have concluded with Del Boy emigrating to Australia to meet up with childhood pal Jumbo Mills. However, David Jason did a U-turn and decided to continue playing Del.


  2. I was disappointed when Fry and Laurie clashed with A Bit of a Do as I didn’t have a video recorder at the time. I watched Fry and Laurie and then the second half of the latter. For most of the week there was nothing I wanted to watch and then two things are on at the same time.

    I read the book A Bit of a Do before I saw the tv series. And I thought it would make a good tv series (the action takes place entirely at some sort of social event), but I thought the BBC would do it. The editor of an influential cult tv fanzine, Archivetvmusings’ predecessor in some ways, said that sometime he watched something on ITV and couldn’t help feeling that the BBC would have done it better. And that’s how I felt about A Bit of a Do. The second series was abysmal.


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