Sitcom Only When I Laugh was written by Eric Chapell (who was also the man behind arguably ITV’s most popular sitcom ever, Rising Damp) and starring both James Bolam and Peter Bowles (who at the time were probably Britain’s most popular actors – Bolam had just been appearing in When The Boat Comes In and Bowles was also appearing in To The Manor Born).
Set in a men’s ward in an NHS hospital, the show followed three long term residents, lorry driver Roy Figgis (a kind of distant cousin of Bolam’s legendary Likely Lads creation Terry Collier), the upper-class Archie Glover (Bowles) and mummy’s boy Norman Binns (played by Christopher Strauli). Looking after them was Richard Wilson in the shape of Dr Gordon Thorpe, the trio were in for the long run but they didn’t seem to have too much wrong with them other than a bad case of hypochondria.
The droll “I’m H-A-P-P-Y” theme was also excellent.
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 29×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 29 October 1979 – 16 December 1982
Writer: Eric Chappell / Music: Ken Jones / Producer and Director: Vernon Lawrence
James Bolam as Roy Figgis
Peter Bowles as Archie Glover
Christopher Strauli as Norman Binns
Richard Wilson as Dr Gordon Thorpe
Derrick Branche as Staff Nurse Gupte
SEASON ONE 29 Oct – 10 Dec 1979
1. A BED WITH A VIEW
2. OPERATION NORMAN
3. THE RUMOUR
4. THE MAN WITH THE FACE
5. LET THEM EAT CAKE
6. TANGLED WEB
7. IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?
SEASON TWO 29 Apr – 10 Jun 1980
1. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO GLORIA ROBINS?
2. WHERE THERE’S A WILL
3. IT CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH
4. THE COSMIC INFLUENCE
5. THE VISITORS
6. THE LOST SHEEP
7. LAST TANGO
SEASON THREE 2 Sep – 14 Oct 1981
1. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
2. ADAM’S RIB
3. THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GENTLEMAN
4. POSTMAN’S KNOCK
6. DEAR DIARY
7. THOSE YOU HAVE LOVED
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 24 Dec 1981
AWAY FOR CHRISTMAS
SEASON FOUR 4 Nov – 16 Dec 1982
1. BLOOD BROTHERS
2. CONDUCT UNBECOMING
3. ALL IN THE MIND
4. IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
6. WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?
7. THE REUNION