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For The Love of Ada (ITV Sitcom, Irene Handl, Wilfred Pickles)

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For The Love of Ada Wilfred Pickles and Irene Handl

A surprisingly gentle sitcom from Vince Powell and Harry Driver (of Mind Your Language and Love Thy Neighbour infamy) For The Love of Ada focused on Ada and Walter, a pair of pensioners, who surprise their families by falling in love.

When the series begins Ada Creswell (Irene Handl) is a widow and Walter Bingley (Wifred Pickles) is the gravedigger who buried her husband. The couple end up becoming friendly and gradually fall in love. Ada’s daughter, Ruth Polliter lives next door to her with her husband, Leslie.

Ruth and Leslie don’t really approve of Ada’s involvement with Walter, but they have to accept that they can’t do anything to prevent them from seeing one another.

The first season dealt with the developing relationship between Ada and Walter. In the second series, they are busy making wedding plans and finally tie the knot at the end of the second season. By the time of the fourth season the pair had become proud grandparents after Ruth and Leslie had a baby boy.

There was a short special broadcast as part of ITV’s All Star Comedy Carnival on 25 Dec 1970 and there was a 45 minute Christmas special to bring the series to a close on 26 December 1971. The following year there was a big screen outing (also called For The Love of Ada) which ran over much of the same ground. This was part of the massive trend in early seventies British cinema to make film versions of popular sitcoms. They were all pretty big money spinners despite none of them being very good.

There was also an American version called A Touch of Grace which ran on ABC for one season of 22 episodes in 1973.

Irene Handl: I enjoy playing Ada. I enjoy the effect the programme has on people. I think it gives them pleasure. Mind you, I don’t know whether I would enjoy seeing. I haven’t got a television set, you know.” (Sunday Mirror 26 Sep 1971).

Wilfred Pickles: “I can understand him (Walter). Love isn’t confined to young people, you know. We old ‘uns know a thing over two as well. I see Walter as a gentleman. He dusts the park bench with his cap before Ada sits down.” (Daily Mirror – Sat 11 April 1970)

“For the Love of Ada began in gentle vein with jokes about operations, family planning and graves and all carefully dusted but still creaking a little with age. There was no profanity, no smut, no swearing. Writers Vince Powell and Harry Driver have fallen over themselves to avoid giving offence. It was a pleasant change and a pleasant episode.” (E.T.J reviewing the first episode in the Coventry Evening Telegraph 21 April 1970)

“What a funny and likeable piece is For The Love Of Ada, the new ITV comedy series. Barbara Mitchell as the affectionate daughter caught my eye and, with the reliable Irene Handl and Wilfred Pickles, it was a delight to watch.” (Viewer A. Bury from Dovercourt, Essex in a letter to the Sunday Mirror 26 Apr 1970)

JICTAR Ratings: The series quickly settled into the top ten, ratings for the week of 3 May 1970 saw it sitting at a joint number 6 with 6.70 million households tuning in. Occupying the top two spots were that weeks episodes of Coronation Street with 7.60 and 7.40 million homes respectively.

Cast: Irene Handl as Ada Cresswell/Bingley; Wilfred Pickles as Walter Bingley; Barbara Mitchell as Ruth Pollitt; Jack Smethurst as Leslie Pollitt

Writers: Vince Powell, Harry Driver / Producer: Ronnie Baxter

UK / ITV – Thames / 26×25 minute episodes 1×45 minute episode and one short special / Broadcast 20 April 1970 – 26 December 1971