Here’s an article from Television Today in the The Stage from 24th November 1983. In it, we see an announcement for The Kit Curran Radio Show, Fresh Fields, Chance In A Million, and a number of other Thames produced ITV sitcoms. But what sticks out to me is the intriguing, and deliberately vague, description of Roy Clarke’s commission – a show to be called The Animal Man.
It reads like they’re trying to recreate the feel (and success) of Last of The Summer Wine, invoking that show to announce that it will be shot on location over the summer months.
If we go back to May of 1983, in the same publication, we find a remarkably similar article, but this time with a couple of interesting nuggets of information. First, that the pilot for Fresh Fields was called Fresh Start, and that the new Roy Clarke show was commissioned without a pilot.
Come the spring of 1984, many of these projects began bearing fruit, and in amongst all the news, we once again see a little snippet about the upcoming Roy Clarke show.
The Animal Man is not a sitcom that Roy Clarke ever wrote. It seems to be have evolved into a different show, less on location, and re-titled Mann’s Best Friend. Here’s a brief mention of it from March of 1985.
It’s also going to be on Channel Four.
I like this mention of the new series in the Aberdeen Evening Express.
This is Hilary Kingsley’s early review from The Mirror.
And here’s what James Green thought of it, a year later, when the show was repeated in a late-night slot on ITV.
If you fancy a look yourself, it’s on DVD, but here’s the first episode …