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Not On Your Nellie (ITV Sitcom, Hylda Baker, John Barrett)

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Not On Your Nellie Season One ITV 1974

Sitcom Not On Your Nellie was another chance for Hylda Baker to do what she did best. With her northern Mrs Malaprop well to the fore she playsNellie Pickersgill who moves down to Fulham from Bolton to help her father Jed (John Barrett) run the Brown Cow pub. Although Nellie Pickersgill is a very similar character to Nellie Pledge, the character Baker played in earlier sitcom Nearest and Dearest, this is no relation to that earlier show.

Nellie is very much a prude and disapproves of everything on principal, especially the people who drink in the Brown Cow. Regulars at the bar included window cleaner Charlie (Leo Dolan), train guard Ali (Ashiq) and fashionistas George and Gilbert (David Rayner played George and Roger Howlett played Gilbert). In the first season Alexandra Dane played barmaid Beryl but she was replaced by Wendy Richard as Doris for season two. Season three saw the arrival of Big Brenda played by Sue Nicholls.

The third and final season saw a slight change in the dynamic as father Jed returned home to Bolton and was replaced by cousin Stanley (the always good value Jack Douglas). In one memorable scene Douglas played not only Stanley but also Stanley’s cousin Alf (this of course gave Douglas the opportunity to give us his twitch filled character Alf Ippititimus.)

Tom Brennan and Roy Bottomnley wrote the series for Hylda and based it on the summer season show of the same name she performed in Blackpool in 1971 and Great Yarmouth in 1973. Bottomley and Brennan had also written most of the episodes of Nearest and Dearest and at the same were also writing non comedy scripts for the fabulous Kenneth Haigh series Man at the Top.

Hylda Baker tended towards the accident prone, season two was delayed after she got pneumonia, the third season had a shorter run (only 4 episodes) than anticipated after she broke her leg and she had started to struggle with her lines (something she put down to a after effects of a car accident several years earlier). In fact Not on Your Nellie turned out to be her last regular TV role. Later there was a guest appearance on The Good Old Days in 1976 and then in 1978 a rather surprising turn as a pop star, duetting with Arthur Mullard in a tone deaf cash-in of You’re The One That I Want from Grease. She died in 1986 at the age of 81.

The series, made by London Weekend Television for ITV, ran for 17 half hour episodes between 15 March 1974 and 24 August 1975. The producer was Bryan Izzard.