Only When I Laugh – The Complete Second Series

Network DVD / Certificate PG / Region 2

Featuring James Bolam, Peter Bowles, Christopher Strauli, Richard Wilson, Derrick Branche

With its brilliant pedigree, script by Eric Chappell (hot on the heels of his legendary Rising Damp) and starring James Bolam and Peter Bowles (then two of the best known names on TV thanks to Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads and To The Manor Born), Only When I Laugh was sure to be a hit and its first season certainly proved to be so.

This second series of 7 episodes is business as usual with the trio of hospital patients Roy Figgis (Bolam), Archie Glover (Bowles) and Norman Binns (Strauli) doing their best to stave off boredom and generally wind each other up. You never really discover what is wrong with the trio, none of them are overly sick (and lets face it you wouldn’t want them to be too ill as then we would actually have to feel some sympathy for them!)

Figgis is your archetypal working class man – a lorry driver in the outside world and who has an opinion on absolutely everything; Glover is a would be cultured hypochondriac who thinks everyone should be waiting on him hand and foot, whilst Norman is the young naive lad, something of a mummy’s boy who is at the mercy of both of the other two.

Most of the action, by necessity, revolves around the hospital ward and the other two principal characters are exasperated surgeon Dr Gordon Thorpe (an early role for Richard Wilson) and put upon nurse Gupte (Derrick Branche).

Tapping into that same “trapped” classic vibe of series such as Porridge and Steptoe and Son. Only When I Laugh has some great quality scripts from Chappell and never fails to make you laugh.

Funny and definitely worth checking out visiting hours for.