Dennis Waterman entered the world of the sitcom with gently funny entry On The Up from the pen of the legendary Bob Larbey. Made in 1990 Waterman plays self made millionaire Tony Carpenter, an Eastender who is decidedly uncomfortable with his wealth, living in posh Esher whilst his no nonsense old mum won’t leave her run down East End home.
The series opens with Tony’s wife Ruth (Judy Buxton) walking out on him and much of the drive of this first series (6 episodes all on one disc) is their on and off relationship, they clearly still have feelings for each other but can’t seem to live together without having huge rows. The heart of the series though is Tony’s relationships with his live in hired help, there is Sam his Chauffeur and general aide de camp, Sam is Tony’s oldest friend having grown up with him, Mrs Wembley is the housekeeper who was fond of a tipple or six (“just the one dear”) and his PA is the Scottish Maggie who definitely has some kind of sexual chemistry thing going with her boss.
As with any Bob Larbey (the man behind The Good Life) there are plenty of funny moments and Waterman is a likeable lead.
There was an untransmitted pilot made for London Weekend Television in 1989 with Tony Selby in the main role of Tony Carpenter before the BBC took up the option to go to series.
UK / BBC One / 19×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 4 September 1990 – 2 November 1992
Writer: Bob Larbey / Theme music: The Guildhall String Ensemble / Music: Dennis Waterman, Ray Russell / Producer and Director: Gareth Gwenlan
Dennis Waterman as Tony Carpenter
Sam Kelly as Sam
Joan Sims as Mrs Fiona Wembley
Jenna Russell as Maggie
Judy Buxton as Ruth Carpenter
Dora Bryan as Tony’s Mum