Sitcom Advent Calendar Door Ten

We might expect to find The 10%ers behind door ten, the Grant Naylor created Carlton sitcom from the mid 1990s, originally piloted at part of their Comedy Playhouse revival.

But we don’t. Instead, within the foil wrapping we discover Jackson Pace: The Great Years.

Wait, hang on, Andy Crane was on CITV?

Anyway, Jackson Pace was written by Daniel Peacock, who also starred in it alongside the lead Keith Allen, and Josie Lawrence. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this.

Something else that criminally passed me by was Jim Tavare Pictures Presents …

This series of short, silent comedies found a home on BBC2 at 10.20pm at the beginning of 1995. So beautifully produced.

Seems like the calendar is taunting me today with things I would enjoy but have never seen. Thus it continues with The Jimmy Stewart Show (Jimmy Stewart had a sitcom??).

No wonder I never saw this, as it only aired in the UK in London, in a graveyard slot, four years before I was born.

Sitcom Advent Calendar Door Nine

Behind the ninth door we find the sitcom 9 To 5, which was based on the movie of the same name. Dolly Parton’s role was taken by her younger sister. Parton also produced the first season of the show, though a cover version of her own song was used for that first year. Subsequent seasons used the original.

Unusually, a few years after the show was cancelled by ABC, it was picked up again by Fox for a new syndication run, taking the total number of episodes from 33 to 118.

If you can think of a better title than I Tell You It’s Burt Reynolds, then well done you. This video is a terrible mash up thing, but you get to see the lovely Yorkshire ident, and the title sequence from The Galton & Simpson Playhouse at least.

Another one off episode from the same writers, but in a format is Impasse, starring Bernard Cribbins for the BBC in 1963.

Another Thora Hird show, also for Yorkshire, is In Loving Memory, which ran for five series over 17 years. It was set in an undertaker’s, and was written by Dick Sharples (just like Hallelujah! from yesterday).

Sitcom Advent Calendar Door Eight

We’ll do some H’s today …

Behind door number eight, wrapped in shiny space foil, we find the Australian kid’s sitcom Halfway Across The Galaxy And Turn Left, based on the novel by Robin Klein.

Nestling alongside that is an ITV sitcom starring Thora Hird that I had quite forgotten about.

Hallelujah! was written by Dick Sharples, and aired for two series in the mind 80s.

Another ITV show from around the same time, albeit a year earlier, was The Happy Apple, based on a play by Jack Pulman, and written by Keith Waterhouse.

Gosh that Thames ident is still gorgeous.

Anyway, this one starred Leslie Ash and John Nettleton, and was about a group of ad execs down on the their luck who were helped by a genius … hang on.

Sitcom Advent Calendar Door Seven

There’s an interesting one nestling behind door seven of the calendar. And that’s 704 Hauser (704 Hauser Street in the UK).

Interesting because Norman Lear took the address of his mega-hit All In The Family (a loose remake of Til Death Us Do Part), and had a new cast of characters move in. It didn’t go well, and was cancelled after only five episodes.

Not to be confused with the recent movie, Seven Year Hitch was a BBC sitcom from 1966, written by Fred Robinson. It was a one off in the Comedy Playhouse strand.

And talking of pilot serieses (not sure how to write the plural of series), and harking (geddit) back to yesterday, let’s not forget Seven Of One, with Ronnie Barker. As well as spawning Open All Hours and Porridge, Gerald Frow wrote My Old Man, Roy Clarke did another entry called Spanner’s Eleven, Hugh Leonard came up with Another Fine Mess, and Jack Goetz (actually Barker himself) wrote One Man’s Meat. And Clement & Le Frenais also wrote I’ll Fly You For A Quid, all about a missing betting slip.

Sitcom Advent Calendar Door Six

Today’s entry (and probably tomorrow’s too) is somewhat inevitable, given the way Ronnie Barker handled the sitcom pilot business. Six Dates With Barker was a series of one-offs, written by different people, most of which led to more things.

Six Dates was LWTs second run of pilots, and included a few familiar things. Opening up with The Removals Person, this was a very early pilot for what turned into Clarence.

Spike Millgan’s The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town will be known to fans of The Two Ronnies, while The Odd Job later became a film, with Barker replaced by Graham Chapman.

Mark Lewishohn identifies the fifth episode Come In And Lie Down, written by John Cleese, as a prototype for Basil Fawlty.

LWT’s first run of shows was called The Ronnie Barker Playhouse, and the BBC later mangled the format somewhat with Seven Of One, completely missing the point of the originally planned six pilots.

This is a format that should be revisited more often. Using the star power of a popular performer to showcase new sitcoms, which can then later be reworked into full series. We all know Porridge and Open All Hours came out of this, but as the above shows, it wasn’t just those that developed.