Fortuosity (2point4 children)

2point4 children

2point4 Children is a British sitcom --created and written by Andrew Marshall-- about the not-so-average Porter family. The show was broadcast on BBC1 from 1991 to 1999, spanning eight series across 52 episodes, including six Christmas specials. It enjoyed a long and successful run throughout the decade, and critics hailed it as 'one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time', yet few critics made the connection between Marshall and former writing partner David Renwick, whose sitcom One Foot in the Grave features a variety of domestic surrealism, similar to 2point4 children.

The title refers to the once "average" size of a UK family, although Andrew Marshall has indicated that father "Ben" could be considered almost another child, hence "point four".

Recently, the show has been repeated on G.O.L.D of which they currently have rights to the first 4 series and UKTV Australia, and the first three series have been released on DVD by Eureka Video. Unfortunately, after insufficient sales the rest of the series was not brought to DVD, however the BBC has hinted at a possibility of releasing the remainder in 2010.

Cast & Crew

Plot

On the surface the Porters seem like a normal family, yet surreal situations and mishaps part of their lives make them anything but average.

Bill's the mother, a sensible level-headed character who cooks and does the housework; she also runs a catering business with man-eating friend and neighbour Rona. Ben is the father, who's childish in nature and has a heating repair business with the loud and sarcastic Christine. Jenny — Bill and Ben's daughter — is a typical teenage girl who is keen on boys, music and vegetarianism. David is the mischievous younger sibling, who enjoys horror films and football, and relishes in annoying his older sister.

Nevertheless, whether it's dealing with flatulent dogs, having men in freezers in the front room, or stumbling across Shirley Bassey’s warehouse, anything seems possible in the Porters' world. Yet despite such unusual happenings, writer Andrew Marshall deals with real-life issues such as pregnancy and hormones, and the characters show a range of human emotions, such as happiness, sadness and depression, giving the show an authentic quality.

Eureka video, who began releasing the show on dvd, state on their website:

"Sitcom-wise, the shape of the series itself is also different from the norm because, from the earliest episodes, it has centred not on the husband, Ben, but on his wife Bill. Even with the focus on Bill, the series still avoids the traditional woman-as-wife-and-mother theme of other series, instead portraying her as a fully-rounded person in her own right, unconfined by her family."

Other characters in the show include Tina, a snob with a squeaky-voice who's Ben's sister, and Bill's fussy mother Bette. The latter along with Rona's aunt Pearl (who is later revealed to be her mother), are both lively, eccentric and young at heart, and far from being average pensioners.

Episodes

Main article: List of 2point4 children episodes

The show ran throughout the nineties, 56 episodes were made over eight series, including six Christmas specials. A twist to the traditional sitcom format, 2point4 children Christmas specials feature the cast, in character, performing Christmas songs.

Andrew Marshall wrote virtually all episodes, however a few of the later ones were written by: Paul Alexander, Simon Braithwaite and Paul Smith.

Theme music

The programme uses a familiar instrumental theme tune which remains unchanged throughout its run, although it was significantly shortened in length for the final series. The closing theme is an extension of that used for the introduction. During many episodes portions of different versions of the theme could be heard to either close scenes or highlight a change in day/night, for example.

Opening/Closing credit sequence

For the opening credits, the first two series use the same set of titles, utilising footage taken from the first three episodes. The opening screen shown features a distinctive blue 2point4children logo overlaid on an exterior shot of the Porters' terraced house, whilst writer and principal actor credits appear over the succeeding footage. Series three uses the same format but with new footage taken from more recent episodes, as did series four in 1994. Series five saw a slight change to the format with the footage now taken from all previous four series, as opposed to the unseen episodes of series five.

A new look was unveiled for series six with a reworking of the logo (now in 3D colourful letters) which fell randomly from the top of the frame and landed in the correct order at the bottom. The cast were shown dancing against a white backdrop with Belinda Lang taking centre stage literally. Cast and writer credits (featuring Clare Buckfield and John Pickard's names which weren't previously shown until the closing credits) were shown either side of Bill dancing. These titles remained through series seven with no alterations.

The final eighth series in 1999 saw a modification to this style, with the same principle of the falling colourful letters landing against a white backdrop but now featuring a line drawing of the Porter house with its colourful front door. These titles are significantly shorter than previous series and featured no cast members. The principal actor credits were now superimposed over the opening scene of the episode and appeared in the Futura typeface, as opposed to the former Roman-style serif font that debuted in episode one. The move to filming in digital widescreen for series eight was one reason that necessitated the change in titles.

For the closing credits, series one-five the credits either flashed up on screen over a freeze frame of the final scene which gradually faded to black or scrolled along the bottom third of the frame from right to left (the latter usually reserved for Christmas specials).

Series six-eight utilised a plain white background with the new colourful logo situated at the top of the frame and the credit list scrolling up the centre.

DVD & VHS releases

Eureka Video released series 1-3 on Region 2 DVD, however they stated "sales were not good", and decided not to release further episodes. The BBC have expressed a possibility of releasing the remainder of the series themselves in 2010.

Additionally, BBC worldwide released a video in 1996, comprising the first three episodes of the series, which are known as: Leader of the Pack, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping.

Title Release date
2 point 4 children - series 1 January 24 2005
2 point 4 children - series two April 25 2005
2 point 4 children - series three August 22 2005
2 point 4 children - series 1-3 boxset
2 point 4 children - VHS 1996

References

External links

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