Arkwright (Ronnie Barker), a miserly, stuttering Northern corner shopkeeper resplendent in brown coat, struggled against a lack of customers and a deadly, guillotine-like till to earn an honest crust. Assisted by his day-dreaming, tank-topped nephew and delivery boy Granville (David Jason), he was forced to stay open longer and longer hours to persuade his equally tight-fisted customers to part with their pennies and unlike most shopkeepers Arkwright had no truck with vouchers or special offers. And all the while Arkwright lusted after the buxom Nurse Gladys Emmanuel who lived across the street.
When was it on?
From 1976 to 1985 – a total of 25 episodes.
Where was it set?
Arkwright’s shop was converted from a hairdressing salon, Helen’s Beautique, in Lister Avenue, Doncaster. It has since become something of a tourist attraction. But then there’s not much else to see in Doncaster.
Who wrote it?
The prolific Roy Clarke, creator of ‘Last of the Summer Wine‘, Rosie, ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ etc.
Who were the star turns?
Ronnie Barker played Arkwright with David Jason (complete with hairpiece to cover his thinning locks) as Granville and Lynda Baron as Nurse Gladys. Barbara Flynn played the milkwoman (Granville dreamed of secret assignations on her float) and two of Arkwright’s formidable, tight-hatted regular customers were played by Kathy Staff (aka Nora Batty) and Stephanie Cole (Diana in Waiting for God).
Who watched it?
12.5 million people at its peak.
Did the stars get on?
Very much so. Barker says it was his favourite series to make because he and Jason became such good friends. When Barker, affectionately known as The Guvnor, retired, he sent a poem to Jason which ended: ‘I now relinquish the honoured title of The Guvnor to my apprentice the boy Granville who is entitled herewith to call himself The Guvnor.’
Where there any complaints?
A few about Arkwright’s stutter. The BBC said s-s-s-sorry.
Did the locals enjoy filming?
There was a lot of night filming, prompting the odd moans from people who had to be up early for work the next morning. When Granville re-created Singing in the Rain, Jason spent hours getting it right. As well as getting soaked to the skin, he provided free cabaret for the good folk of Doncaster.
Any real life reasonance?
Ronnie Barker once received a letter from someone in Littlehampton insisting that Arkwright was based on a local shopkeeper and asking him to perform the re-opening of said shop. Barker politely declined.
Any distant cousins?
Shopping sit-coms are about as common as days when there isn’t a sale at DFS. There was ‘Are You Being Served?‘, the abysmal Tripper’s Day/Slinger’s Day set in a supermarket with first Leonard Rossiter and then Bruce Forsyth in the title role, and not forgetting (although most people prefer to) High Street Blues, a mercifully short-lived ITV effort from 1989 about a small town high street. If Open All Hours was the Harrods of shopping sit-coms, High Street Blues was the Oxfam shop.
The format is still proving itself, having been revived as Still Open All Hours with David Jason’s Granville taking over the running of the shop.
No Offence (Channel 4 2015, Jody Latham, Alexandra Roach)
In comedy crime drama No Offence keeping the streets clean is a Herculean task, enough to demoralize even the keenest...
Age Before Beauty Episode 4 21 Aug on BBC One
In episode 4 of Age Before Beauty Leanne has organised for MirrorBel salon to have a stand at an anti-ageing fair....
Crazy Rich Asians (2018, Constance Wu, Henry Golding)
In comedy Crazy Rich Asians an American-born Chinese economics professor accompanies her boyfriend to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding,...
Queen of the South: La Muerte (USA Network
La Muerte: Returning to Bolivia, Teresa risks her life to prove her loyalty to El Santo. Airdate: 23 August 2018 Season...
Fame Is the Spur (1947, Michael Redgrave, Rosamund John)
The corrupting influence of power is the overriding theme of politically motivated drama Fame is the Spur that could be...
Bodyguard Series Premiere 26 Aug on BBC One
Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes star in Bodyguard, BBC One’s new contemporary thriller from the makers of Line Of Duty....
Bodyguard (BBC-1 2018, Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes)
Bodyguard is a contemporary thriller featuring the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Set in and...
Snowfall: The Offer (FX 23 Aug 2018)
The Offer: Franklin must deal with his past in order to retrieve stolen merchandise. Teddy and Matt take a trip...
Born Free (1966, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers)
Born Free is the true story of George (Bill Travers) and Joy (Virginia McKenna) Adamson, game wardens in Kenya, who rescue...
Trial & Error: A Big Break & Barcelona (NBC 23 Aug 2018)
Another double bill of episodes kicking off at 9.00pm with A Big Break: Josh and his team continue to find...
Suits: Cats, Ballet, Harvey Specter (USA Network 22 Aug 2018)
Cats, Ballet, Harvey Specter: Harvey and Louis assess their relationship. Donna doubts Samantha’s motives for helping her. Airdate: 22 August...
Animal Kingdom: The Hyenas (Season Finale TNT 21 Aug 2018)
The Hyenas: As the third season comes to a close J (Finn Cole) realizes the danger of balancing his role...
The Sinner II: Part IV (USA Network 22 Aug 2018)
Part IV: Ambrose returns to Mosswood to confront Vera about the commune’s work. Airdate: 2018-08-22 Season 2, Episode 4 With: Bill Pullman,...
Alone Together: Dog Awards (Freeform 22 Aug 2018)
Dog Awards: Esther and Benji get their first writing room gig on the Dog Awards. Benji thinks it will be...
Alone Together: Mom (Freeform 22 Aug 2018)
Mom: Esther’s mom pays a surprise visit because she’s concerned about Esther’s life choices. Meanwhile, Benji tries to make some...
Castle Rock: The Queen (Hulu 22 Aug 2018)
The Queen: Memories haunt Ruth Deaver. Airdate: 2018-08-22 Season 1, Episode 7
Dietland (AMC 2018, Joy Nash, Julianna Margulies)
In comedy drama Dietland Plum Kettle, ghost-writer for the editor of one of New York’s hottest fashion magazines, struggles with...
All About The Washingtons (Netflix 2018, Joseph Simmons, Justine Simmons)
Netflix’s All About The Washingtons is an autobiographical family sitcom that follows Joey Washington (Rev Run aka Joseph Simmons) and...
The Woman in White (BBC-1 2018, Ben Hardy, Olivia Vinall)
In The Woman In White, after Walter Hartright encounters a ghostly woman dressed in all white on a moonlit road, he...
Grace and Frankie (Netflix 2015, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin)
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star as Grace and Frankie, two women whose lives are suddenly turned upside down when...
Homecoming (Amazon 2018, Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale)
Heidi Bergman is a caseworker at Homecoming, a Geist Group facility helping soldiers transition to civilian life. Years later she...
Mr. Sunshine (2018, Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-ri)
Based in Shinmiyangyo, or the U.S. expedition to Korea in the late 19th century, Mr. Sunshine tells the story of...
Private Eyes (Global TV 2016, Jason Priestley, Cindy Sampson)
In Private Eyes ex-pro hockey player Matt Shade irrevocably changes his life when he teams up with fierce P.I. Angie Everett...