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Only When I Laugh (ITV Sitcom, James Bolam, Peter Bowles)

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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, Only When I Laugh followed three long term residents, lorry driver Roy Figgis (a kind of distant cousin of James Bolam’s legendary Likely Lads creation Terry Collier), the upper-class Archie Glover (Peter Bowles) and mummy’s boy Norman Binns (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.

Cast: 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

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Writer: Eric Chappell / Music: Ken Jones / Producer and Director: Vernon Lawrence

UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 29×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 29 October 1979 – 16 December 1982

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

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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
5. ACCIDENT
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
5. ESCAPE
6. WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?
7. THE REUNION

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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