Spooner’s Patch (ITV sitcom, Ronald Fraser, Donald Churchill)



Sitcom Spooner’s Patch detailed the exploits of a group of inept policemen led by Inspector Spooner (who was played by Ronald Fraser in the first season and then by Donald Churchill).

The opening episode set the scene: Spooner’s Patch covers day-to-day life in a metropolitan police station under the manic supervision of Inspector Spooner. The station staff – Fascist PC Goatman (Norman Rossington), television imitation plain clothes Detective Constable Bulsover (Peter Cleall) and insulting PC Killick (Dermot Kelly) give Spooner enough problems with his having to cope with crime as well.

Writer Ray Galton was here working with Johnny Speight rather than usual co-writer Alan Simpson. It was not too far of a stretch though, Galton, Simpson and Speight had been long time friends and colleagues since the mid 1950’s sharing office space and management.

The TV Times week of 7 Jul 1979, the week the series launched, featured a one page article by comedian Alfred Marks looking at how policing has changed down the years. The article only mentioned the series in the first paragraph and Alfred Marks wasn’t actually in the series but it would have served as a nice bit of nostalgia for viewers of the time.

The TV Times, week of 14 Jul 1979, featured a profile of Peter Cleall, the former Please, Sir! Star who played DC Bulsover in Spooner’s Patch: The article focused on the fact that he had found Duffy (the character he played in both Please, Sir! and it’s sequel The Fenn St Gang) hard to shake off and that he had spent much of the last few years working on the stage. He did mention that they had done a lot of filming at Northwood Police Station in Middlesex.

The Daily Mirror of Sat 7 Jul 1979 offered up a short preview: Spooner’s Patch. (ITV, 8.00) comes with the impeccable pedigree of being written by Ray Galton and Johnny Speight, who have a host of hit shows behind them. They are tackling a difficult comedy subject – the everyday life of policemen – but the stars Ronald Fraser and Norman Rossington are funny in any guise.

The Daily Mirror of Thursday 15 April featured an interview with writer Johnny Speigtht: JOHNNY SPEIGHT has had about enough of SPOONER’S PATCH. – The third series of the show that he has written with Ray Galton begins tonight (ITV, 7.30). A fourth, he reckons, might be too much of a good thing. So it looks as though Spooner is getting the elbow. “There are so many other things I want to do,” he says. “I have a number of pilot comedy shows that I’m working on.” One will star Eric Sykes, and another stars Patricia Hayes. “She’s a marvellous actress,” says Johnny. And Pat returns the praise by saying: “He writes great lines for women.” Which is very apt, because the show he’s created for her is called Women. It will also star Dandy Nichols, Pat’s companion in Till Death Us Do Part. Johnny is sad that no one seems willing to give Till Death another airing. “Television executives think Alf s too outrageous,” he says.

Cast: Ronald Fraser (Inspector Spooner – Season one), Donald Churchill (Inspector Spooner – from season two), Patricia Hayes (Mrs Cantaford, The Traffic Warden from season two) Peter Cleall (Detective Constable Bulsover), John Lyons (Police Constable Killick), Norman Rossington (Police Constable Goatman – Season One), Dermot Kelly (Kelly – Season One)

Writers: Johnny Speight and Ray Galton / Producer: William G. Stewart

UK / ITV – ATV – Regent – Central (1982) / 19×30 minute episodes across three seasons / Broadcast 9 July 1979 – 24 August 1982 (Much of season one went out several months later than the first two – victims of the infamous 1979 ITV technicians strike. There was also a three month gap between the final two episodes airing)  

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