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.