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.

Buy My Books
  • Proctology: A Bottom Examination
    Proctology: A Bottom Examination

    For a long time now I’ve been wanting to write an old-fashioned programme guide. One you can hold in your hand and thumb through, make notes on, spill coffee on. So I did. Proctology: A Bottom Examination is my deep dive into Bottom, the hit BBC Two sitcom starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. That’s…

Most Read
  • Re-Casting Keanu
    Re-Casting Keanu

    Keanu Reeves is 56. That makes him eight years older than Clive Dunn was when he was first cast in Dad’s Army. But don’t panic, Clive Dunn was always playing much older characters than his own age. Keanu Reeves is 56. That makes him seven years older than Stephanie Cole was when she was first…

From The Archive

Sign up for my FREE newsletter