I am true and true a fan of British television. When I had the opportunity to acquire this series, I did because I wanted to have it in my collection. It also sat on my shelf in my collection for many years doing nothing but gathering dust. I started this malarkey of randomly picking something from my collection to watch years before I started to write this blog. Back in December of 2007 I thought it would be fun to randomly pick something to watch on New Year’s Day but as a marathon. A lot of other stations such as Sci-Fi was showing marathons of shows (Sci-Fi always showed The Twilight Zone) and I thought I could pick something cool from my collection and do the same thing. Since I was randomly picking it, who knows what treasure I would choose to watch. Maybe one of the Quatermass serials or Doomwatch, it could even be Doctor Who. For my inaugural marathon I picked…..As Time Goes By. I was a little disappointed. I wasn’t a big fan of the series and wanted to pick something else but didn’t. If I kept randomly re-picking series until it’s something I loved, then what’s the point of doing this? So for that first year I watched Series 1-3 of As Time Goes By. Guess what? I really liked it. I should have known I would. It was written by Bob Larbey who wrote along with John Esmonde some of the greatest and most favourite British series of all time such as The Good Life, Please Sir, Ever Decreasing Circles, Brush Strokes, The Other One, and Mulberry. On his own he also wrote A Fine Romance (also starring Judi Dench). For some reason I thought the series would be overly sappy. I don’t know why that is but I did. What I ended up seeing was a series that was written very smartly with a great use of play-on words. It’s actually dialogue I could see Tom Good using. Why would have expected anything else from Bob Larbey?
As Time Goes By is about Lionel Hardcastle and Jean Pargetter who were a couple in 1953 but when Lionel was sent to Korea, the two lost touch. Years later, they find each other again as Lionel needs a secretary and get one from Jean’s business. They eventually begin their relationship again. Lionel had been divorced from his wife and he is a writer. When they met again, Jean’s husband passed away and she has a daughter that works for her named Judy. By the time we get to Series 4, Lionel has moved in with Jean and Judy had been dating Lionel’s book publisher Alistair. Things go very rocky between Alistair and Judy as she finds him very pretentious. Lionel is at work on his mini-series he is writing for Hollywood, ‘Just Two People’.
Series 4 is 10 episodes in length. It just goes to show how popular the series was with the British public (and in the US) as most comedy series are just 6 episodes per series. This article only covers the first 6 episodes. The series starts with Sandy (an employee of Jean’s business) who gets in a fight with her boyfriend and moves in with Jean, Judy and Lionel. Lionel is a bit prickly as it is but when Sandy moves in, he is upset because the room she ended up staying in was going to become his own study. At the end of Series 3, Jean gets Lionel’s very attractive secretary Daisy fired because Jean is jealous of her. Instead Jean finds a new secretary for him. The rather frumpy Mrs. Flack. Not only does she talk non-stop to make it hard for Lionel to get any work done, she constantly re-arranges everything in the house so no one can find anything. Neither Lionel nor Jean has the courage to sack Mrs. Flack because she is not a bad person, just rather annoying. Finally in Episode Three, Jean has an outragouse plan to get Mrs. Flack to quit but there is no need. She quits first for personal reasons.
As the time went by (see what I did there?), I ended up recording all the stuff I wanted. In fact, by the mid-1990s, I had enough friends around the country and in the UK and Australia who would send me stuff, that I would still watch British television at 10pm every night but not KTCA. It would be the stuff I would get from my friends which would not be seen on the air on a PBS station (in my location) such as Only Fools and Horses, Till Death Us Do Part, Men Behaving Badly, Steptoe and Son plus non-comedies such as the Quatermass Serials and Doomwatch among many other things. To be honest, when I would check in to see what was being shown on KTCA, it honestly seemed like an endless loop of Are You Being Served?, The Vicar of Dibley and my good friend, As Time Goes By. Some programs such as ‘Allo ‘Allo! was incomplete on the PBS run. BBC Worldwide Americas never got the rest of series beyond Series 5 for years. Only within the last 10 to 12 years, they got the rest of the series with the exception of Series 6 which is still not available. Of their list of episodes they offer to PBS stations, they say this about Series 6:
As Time Goes By 1992 - 2005
WETA UK must have got a deal from BBC Worldwide Americas to get all of this programming and launch its own channel. If this was the heyday of British comedies of PBS back in the 1980s, the cost would have been impossible for such a station ever to exist. I applaud WETA and I hope this lives on for a very long time. TPT will never do a station like this. It’s a shame but not unexpected. At least I have hours and hours of programming I can watch for myself. To get a sample of what WETA UK is showing, please find below the schedule for its July programming. Long Live WETA UK!
It seems almost like someone passed away. According to The Guardian in the UK, BBC Television Centre has been sold for £200 million. It has been bought by Stanhope plc. Television Centre was opened in 1960. The Guardian says the 14 acre site will be empty by 2015. Parts of the site was given a Grade II status by English Heritage in 2009. The Guardian posted some reactions by people on Twitter such as this nice one: "The BBC without BBC Television Centre is like the Royal Family without Buckingham Palace. Sad times," said @CameronYardeJnr.”.
Next week: We continue on with the last four episodes of Series 4 of As Time Goes By. We look at the episodes and a little more background information on this wonderfully classic series.
Have a great week!
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at FTA13867@gmail.com
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