With the channel now so reliant on reality TV and middle of the road drama, it’s easy to forget that ITV was once able to churn out top-class sitcoms to rival and sometimes exceed the BBC.
Time has been less than kind to a number of these, but some remain as funny today over 30 years on – and one of these is Man About The House.
The flatshare sitcom, which lasted for a total of six series between 1973 and 1976, is currently being brought to DVD by Network a series at a time, with the third series hitting the shops this week – and we’ve been taking a closer look.
We’re kicking off with the third series, but to be honest, you could come in at any time with this show, because the (successful) formula was pretty much set in stone from day one. Robin (Richard O’Sullivan) lives with two girls, Chrissy (Paula Wilcox) and Jo (Sally Thomsett). Downstairs is the landlord and landlady – George and Mildred Roper (Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce). Robin spends his time trying to woo Chrissy and indeed any other girl he encounters, Jo plays the token dumb blonde, while George and Mildred play the archetypal seaside postcard couple – the weak workshy bloke and his sex-starved battleaxe bride.
Series three sees a few minor changes – new opening credits, the arrival of Robin’s mate Larry in the flat upstairs and a bigger bald patch on Richard O’Sullivan’s head. Apart from that, it’s business as usual with seven episodes covering the usual ground.
The upheaval of new boy Larry arrriving, Robin’s failure with a succession of women, a mouse loose in the house, Chrissie gets a secret admirer, George tries and fails to get his tenants evicted (with the help of the wonderful Roy Kinnear) and Robin has his tonsils out. It’s all trivial stuff, but it’s also very well-written and very funny. All too often there’s two stories going on at the same time – upstairs and downstairs – which undoubtedly made it easy for show creators Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke to filter off George and Mildred later for their own successful series (more on that one later),
And check out the fashions – they say "what goes around comes around", and that’s so true here. Any of the tenants could walk into a pub in 2006 without turning a head!
No extras on the DVD, but still, great comedy that stands the test of time – and at less than a tenner, it’s well worth picking up.
Man About The House Series Three
Catalogue number: 7952401
Released: 20th March 2006