The Larkins (ITV Sitcom, Peggy Mount, David Kossoff)

The Larkins was a popular 1950’s sitcom about a family of Londoners living in fear of the battleaxe matriarch of the clan.

The main reason for it’s success was Peggy Mount’s show-stealing performance as Ada Larkin, whose foghorn voice grated like fingernails being scraped down a blackboard. The series was penned by East London builder’s clerk Fred Robinson, who based his characters on people he encountered in the pub. His first script was turned into a play which toured the country. ITV bosses spotted its potential and Peggy Mount, who had had a West End triumph as a rolling pin wielding harridan in Sailor Beware, was cast in the main role. Robinson also popped up in the series occasionally playing pub barman Fred.

Each week the family, who lived at 66 Sycamore Street in the London suburb of Hackney, were faced with a farcical dilemma. Battleaxe Ada was at the heart of every incident. She said there were two sides to every argument – hers and the wrong one. Starring alongside Mount was David Kossoff as husband Alf Larkin. Shaun O’Riordan, who would later go behind the cameras and become a prominent TV producer, played son Eddie, whilst Ruth Trouncer was daughter Joyce. She was married to American ex-GI Jeff Rogers.

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Next door neighbours Hetty Prout (Barbara Mitchell), Sam Prout (George Roderick) and their daughter Myrtle (Hilary Bamberger) were also regulars.

The series finished in 1960 after four seasons but there was then a surprise revival three years later with more than a few changes. The Larkins had been forced to move, as part of the East End slum-clearance programme of the early 1960’s their house had been demolished. The kids had moved on and Alf, having been made redundant, used his lay-off money to open his own cafe and b-and-b. Helped and hindered by Ada of course. This run also introduced new regular Osbert Rigby Soames (the brilliant Hugh Paddick), who was a permanent fixture at the B-andB. The cafe/bed and breakfast setting also allowed for plenty of people to come and go, appearing on and off in these later seasons were Victor Maddern (as Vic),  David Jackson of Blake’s 7  (as Lofty) and Norman Chappell as Sid Gannett.

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In 1960 The Larkins were also given a big screen outing. Inn For Trouble saw Alf and Ada running their own pub in the country.

The Larkins regularly attracted audiences of more than 7.5m during it’s 40 episode run. Fred Robinson wrote every episode and the producers were Alan Tarrant, Bill Ward and Antony Kearey. The series was made by ATV for ITV and ran from 19 September 1958 to 22 August 1964.

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.