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Sob Sisters (ITV Sitcom, Gwen Taylor, Polly Adams)

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In one season sitcom Sob Sisters, two sisters, Liz (Gwen Taylor) and Polly Adams (Dorothy) are forced to share a flat when the husband of one dies.

In the publicity for the series Gwen Taylor likened the series to The Golden Girls saying “I’m very keen on the idea that women can be funny without reference to men.”

James Green reviewed the series positively in The Stage (Thurs 8 Jun 1989) thinking that it was worthy of a second season: HERE’S a new sit-com which actually raises some laughs due to a combination of an experienced writer and a first-class hunch of actors. Andrew Marshall was the co-writer of Hot Metal, Whoops Apocalypse, and the Alexei Sayle series; it was directed by Ray Butt as his first sit-com since joining Central as Head of Comedy; and it co-starred the delicious Gwen Taylor who scored with Duty Free and A Bit Of A Do, and Polly Adams, whose performance would have pleased her comedy actor great uncle, Gordon Harker. When you add a popular veteran actor in Freddie Jones for comedy insurance then you have the makings of a show which is something of a beacon in these dog days of summer schedules. In the beginning was the word and Mr Marshall has given this talented team enough good lines to display their skills and ensure a follow-up series almost at first sight. Briefly, the situation has Gwen Taylor as a “dowdy” spinster living in a grotty London suburban flat who has her widowed, once rich, impractical, glamorous, five-star sister, Polly Adams, descend on her needing a roof and a bed. How good it is to savour and laugh outright at some of the dialogue. Taylor knows her blonde and spoilt sister is going to drive her mad and complains “You’ll be turning the flat into Hollywood Canteen with you as Rita Hayworth” and recalls her as a teenager, “collecting Harrods labels in an album.” The comedy springs from one sister regarding her American Express card as an essential, and the other accustomed to re-using her teabags. There are lines about turbo-charged men and others who write on rubber paper; also a nice, sharp opening featuring what else, the Beverley Sisters’ theme, Sisters. Freddie Jones, with Taylor as his coping receptionist assistant, plays an eccentric vet who assures a client there is nothing inside a tortoise shell until she tells him there are no batteries in his torch. It is Jones’ first sit-com and he’s a valuable recruit to the comedy acting ranks. In contrast the only other man involved is Taylor’s gay neighbour and friend, played by Philip Bird. If the series can maintain this level then the chalk-and-cheese sisters are going to make good viewing, and Gwen Taylor, already established as an out standing TV comedy actress, will have yet another success to bolster her impressive credits.

Graham Young offered up a short review in The Sandwell Evening Mail (Mon 29 May 1989): Central held all the aces on Friday night when it’s new comedy, Sob Sisters, kicked off. Bearing the signature of Ray Butt, the man behind Only Fools and Horses and Just Good Friends, it was everything a sitcom should be – funny. Rich Dorothy (Polly Adams), reunited with her poor sister, Liz (Gwen Taylor) was told her husband’s funeral must have been terrible. “No it wasn’t,” said Dorothy, “I put it on American Express.”

Cast: Gwen Taylor (Liz), Polly Adams (Dorothy), Freddie Jones (Leo), Philip Bird (Charlie), Beryl Cooke (Edna)

Writer: Andrew Marshall / Producer: Christopher Walker / Executive Producer: Mike Holgate / Director: Ray Butt

UK / ITV – Central / 7×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 26 May – 7 July 1989 Fridays at 8.30pm