Sorry I’m Single (BBC Sitcom, Derek Nimmo)

In one season sitcom Sorry I’m Single (written by On The Buses creators Ronald Woolfe and Ronald Chesney) student David shares a converted house with three young women (all have their own bedsits) so it wasn’t too risque.

Judging on the article below from the Daily Mirror it would appear that Nimmo’s David is actually the same character that he played in an episode of The Bed-Sit Girl (also by Wolfe and Chesney).

Guest stars included Victor Maddern, Kenneth J. Warren, Gertan Klauber, Ray Lonnen, Jonathan Cecil, Brian Wilde and Ray Mort.

The situation would be more profitably exploited in the next decade with ITV’s very popular sitcom Man About The House.

The Daily Mirror previewed the first episode (Tues 1 Aug 1967): THE men who wrote “The Bed-Sit Girl” for Sheila Hancock have now developed a new bed-sit comedy series for her neighbour Derek Nimmo. For Derek appeared in “The Bed- Sit Girl” as Sheila’s dithery neighbour, David. Now he becomes the main character in ‘Sorry, I’m Single” (BBC-1, 7.30 tonight), a new series by writers Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney, Ronald Wolfe told me, “Derek Nimmo was so good in Bed-Sit Girl we felt it was a shame to waste him.” There’s SUZY, a Chinese girl student who always has the last word. She’s played by Pik-Sen Lim, who was Nurse Kwei in ITV’s “Emergency – Ward 10.” And there’s KAREN, a mini-skirted blonde who treats David with indifference. Karen is played by Elizabeth Knight who was discovered for the show after appearing on the BBC-2 quiz “Call My Bluff.” Writer Wolfe explained how he got his ideas foil the series. “I live on the fringe of Hampstead’s bed-sit land,” he said, “and when I’m working on a script I sometimes go for a walk at 2 a.m.- and you see the bed-sit people sitting in laundrettes, drinking coffee. They’re odd people, chucked together in rooms in one house. There’s a lot about them that hasn’t been explored.” Chesney and Wolfe have broadened the silly ass character Derek Nimmo usually plays. “David is quite intelligent though he’s always failing his exams,” says Wolfe. “He’s shy – not a womaniser like Lucky Jim.”

There was also short preview in the Thanet Times (Tues 1 Aug 1967): Life for a young bachelor living in a bed-sitter is usually a complex affair. When the other three tenants in the large converted house are all girl, life gets even more complicated. This is the setting for “Sorry I’m Single,” the new comedy series starring Derek Nimmo, as David, which begins on BBC-1 tonight. The threee girls in his life are Brenda (Gwendolyn Watts), divorced and keeping an eye open for another husband; Suzy (Pik-Sen Lim), a Chinese student and Karen (Elizabeth Knight), young, unconventional and mini-skirted.

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As usual it was The Stage that offered the most erudite review, Ann Purser covered the first episode on Thurs 3 Aug 1967: THERE is an awful predictability about fame, especially television fame. You think you are alone in spotting that number three in the billing (I’m talking about “All Gas and Gaiters”) is funnier and more original than the others in the show. Then suddenly you find everyone else has spotted him too, and the next thing you know he has a show of his own. Derek Nimmo is now the star of “Sorry I’m Single”, a comedy series which began this week, written by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney. I liked Nimmo so much as the Rev. Mervyn Noote, and wish I could say his new character – David, the feeble bachelor appealed to me at all. But Nimmo’s gloomy mannerisms and style of speech far from seeming appealing, were only irritating with no jolly fat Bishop to act as a foil. The situation out of which very few tiny jokes were wrung was so ridiculous and artificial that it was difficult to believe that it could be made to last the whole show through. But David’s heavy cold aroused various instincts in the three girls living in the same house, and this is what it was all about. Brenda (Gwendolyn Watts) was the most interesting of the girls. Her performance as the divorcee smothering David with attention and negligee-clad bosoms was sharp and funny. Karen (Elizabeth Knight), a not very swinging chick, and Suzy (Pik-Sen Lim), a Chinese student, tried to help in a pointless sort of way. But Derek Nimmo should have been the star, the inspiration, the funniest character, the slow fuse to start off the chuckles and provoke a few explosions of laughter. And it just didn’t happen. I think that apart from being limited in his range, the idea was a bad one. A bachelor hunted down by three girls living in one house, is a situation which will inevitably get bogged down in cliches, how ever it is handled. It must come high on the list of situations to void, not far below mother-in- law up in the attic flat, and char lady promoted to seat on the Board. What is more, if the few jokes you have are dependent on girls in nighties and men with pyjama trousers falling down. It is imperative that the viewer does not glimpse a full quota of underwear under the former and decent black pants under the latter. I kept wishing Gwendolyn Watts would haul the reluctant bachelor into her narrow bed, put out the lights and that would be that. But I suppose that is too much to hope for in the first episode.

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The Reading Evening Post previewed the second episode on Tuesday 8 August 1967: When a marriage breaks up who gets custody of the budgie? The only person available to solve tho problem is David, played by Derek Nimmo. In Sorry I’m Single on BBC-1. His neighbour Brenda (Gwendolyn Watts) having ex-husband and budgie trouble and David, a self-confessed expert on everything, has trouble solving the problem. Elizabeth Knight and Pik-Sen Lim play the othe neighbours in bed-sitter, and Kenneth J. Warren plays Brenda’s ex-husband. Script by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney.

William Marshall in the Daily Mirror (Tues 12 Sep 1967) offered up a short preview of the latest episode by way of a look at co-star Gwendolyn Watts: Tonight she teams up again with Derek Nimmo in “Sorry I’m Single” (BBC-1. 7.30pm) Gwendolyn, who plays the gay divorcee living in the next flat to Nimmo, told me: “I love comedy. It’s what I do best, although I think it’s important to do straight parts as well. It helps to have a good sense of humour. I can usually see the funny side in even the most serious situation.” She is planning to add her own humour to the “Carry On . ..” team with whom she has signed up for the next film. In “Sorry I’m Single ” tonight Derek Nimmo is talked into looking after a neighbour’s children for half an hour. And even this small task results in chaos.

Ratings: The show made it to number four on Top 5 Comedy series list during September according to TAM (Television Audience Measurement) which looked after the ratings at the time. It was seen by 4.3 million homes. It was in good company the top three comedies were Till Death Us Do Part, Steptoe and Son and Not In Front of the Children. Looked at the context of the general top 20 shows though that amount of viewers was not high enough to make the list (it would have needed at least 4.6 million homes to break into the top 20).

Cast: Derek Nimmo (David), Gwendolyn Watts (Brenda), Elizabeth Knight (Karen), Pik Sen Lim (Suzy)

Writers: Ronald Woolfe, Ronald Chesney / Producer: John Street

UK / BBC One / 9×30 minute episodes / 1 August – 26 September 1967 Tuesdays 7.30pm black and white

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.