All six episodes from the first series of the sitcom set around Arkwright's grocer's store. In 'Full of Mysterious Promise' Arkwright (Ronnie Barker) tries to sell some unlabelled tins. 'A Mattress on Wheels' has Granville (David Jason) try to persuade Arkwright to buy a delivery van. 'A Nice Cosy Little Disease' finds Arkwright feigning sickness in order to receive the attentions of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron). 'Beware of the Dog' sees Arkwright grow concerned about security after an attempted burglary. In 'Well Catered Funeral' Arkwright sets about trying to make a profit at his friend's funeral. Finally, 'Apples and Self-Service' finds the store overstocked with apples. Also includes the 1973 pilot episode in which Arkwright grows concerned when Nurse Gladys' car starts appearing outside a different man's house every night.
Already old-fashioned when the show was made, Open All Hours now seems like a glimpse into a much earlier world. Ronnie Barker stars as Arkwright, a tight-fisted middle-aged Doncaster shopkeeper, while David Jason as Arkwright's nephew Granville makes deliveries by bicycle in a manner more evocative of the 1930s than the 70s. Barker's relationship with Jason parallels his rapport with Richard Beckinsale in Porridge (1974-8), and while the pair may not be in prison, the confines of the small general dealer's shop often seem like that to Granville. Even though at 36 Jason was patently way too old for the supposedly teenage Granville, he and Barker made a great double act.
The dry Northern humour centres mostly on money and sex, the latter interest in Arkwright's case being the buxom charms of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, very well played by Lynda Baron. Like writer Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine, the episodes are more amusing character sketches than stories, with the 1973 pilot and first regular episode "Full of Mysterious Promise" serving simply to introduce the players. In "A Mattress on Wheels", Arkwright is tempted to buy a van, and in "A Nice Cosy Little Disease" decides a fake illness will prompt Gladys Emmanuel to provide more than NHS standard TLC. "Beware of the Dog" is Arkwright's response to an attempted burglary, while when his best friend dies he plans a "Well Catered Funeral". Finally, in "Apples and Self Service", paranoia defeats Arkwright's attempts to move with the times.
On the DVD: Open All Hours has a 4:3 picture that is exceptional for a 1970s sitcom, while the mono sound is excellent. Extras are a reasonably detailed text biography of series writer Roy Clarke, and, much more notably, a complete bonus episode, the 1973 series pilot. The picture quality of this is not up to that of the series proper, but it is perfectly fine for vintage BBC TV. --Gary S Dalkin
- Open All Hours Series 1
- Cat No.
- TV Series
- Monday 30th September 2002