Features

Classic TV Revisited: Happy Ever After becomes Terry and June

Happy Ever After

Happy Ever After was your archetypal cosy suburban sitcom, with Terry Scott and June Whitfield as the Fletchers and Beryl Cooke as Aunt Lucy. When Happy finished Terry and June took their marital concept one step further by making the exactly the same sitcom Terry and June. This time out the surname changed to Medford and the couple lived in middle class splendour in Purley, Surrey.

Appearance
Archetypal middle-class, middle-aged suburban sitcoms where vicars called for tea, and trousers were dropped.

Why was it so good?
Long-running rather than good might be a better description of the two comedies starring Terry Scott and June Whitfield. Although they look dated now they were hugely popular and regularly attracted more than 14m viewers.

How did they begin?
Happy Ever After, the forerunner of Terry And June, was developed from a Comedy Playhouse pilot. It ran from 1974-79 and was swiftly followed by Terry And June from 1979-87. Terry Scott and June Whitfield originally played the characters in a sketch from his series Scott On. The characters endured in the two BBC1 comedies for an incredible 14 series and 106 episodes.

What were they about?
Mostly bland domestic crises which still seem to infiltrate several 21st century sitcoms. In Happy Ever After the couple were Terry and June Fletcher who got into silly scrapes after their grown-up children left home. In Terry And June they had “marital ups and downs” as Purley couple Terry and June Medford.

Happy Ever After becomes Terry and June

Terry and June in Terry and June…

Did they have any exciting plots?
“Hilarious” storylines included a visit from the boss, looking after a pal’s dog and Terry getting into a tizz over his wife’s “infidelity”. Classic episodes included the couple being browbeaten on a ferry by a boy who’d written to Jim’ll Fix It so he could appear on Terry And June. Terry’s domineering boss Sir Dennis (Reginald Marsh) for some reason always came for Christmas dinner.

Were they funny?
In retrospect they had their moments – viewers always wondered whose chair was going to collapse and Terry Scott played the part to overgrown schoolboy perfection.

Any other humorous moments?
Happy Ever After took flight when the couple’s ancient Aunt Lucy (Beryl Cooke) moved in with her mynah bird. There was also a health farm as Colditz episode and Terry’s infamous attempt at cooking a barbecue.

Didn’t other comics mock them?
There were some merciless parodies of Terry And June in the ’80s. An episode of The Young Ones called Boring took much delight in knocking the cosy sitcom genre. The expression “Crikey” was continually used, the vicar came for tea and someone’s trousers fell down. Even so Terry And June usually had the last laugh – it was third in the ratings in 1987 behind EastEnders and Corrie.

Could it be revived?
It’s never really gone away but the middle-class sofa sitcom and its twee, domestic slapstick has certainly had its day.

Distinguishing features?
Chintz curtains and matching sofas. Domestic dramas in suburbia. Smut-free.

Do say:
They don’t make them like that any more.

Don’t say:
Thank God! I preferred Bless This House and Sid James’s dirty laugh.

Not to be confused with:
Terry And Julian, a C4 comedy with Julian Clary in which June Whitfield guested. Also Men Behaving Badly, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Terry’s All Gold chocolates.