behaving badly

Men Behaving Badly

Men Behaving Badly is a British comedy--created and written by Simon Nye--that follows the lives of beer-guzzling flatmates Gary Strang and Tony Smart. In a BBC article, it's stated Men Behaving Badly was "a reaction against the onset of the caring, sharing 'new man', it appeared to revel in a politically incorrect world of booze, burps and boobs."

All series were produced by Hartswood Films, and Thames Television co-produced the first two series for ITV and assisted with production from the third series onwards. It was filmed in and around Ealing in west London, and the final scene of series six took place at the Cerne Abbas giant.

Men Behaving Badly was first broadcast in 1992 on ITV, but after two series the network axed the show. In a unusual move, BBC One picked the show up in 1994, and after moving it to a post-watershed slot it became very successful. It was controversially voted the best sitcom in the BBC's history at the corporation's 60th anniversary celebrations in 1996, and it came sixteenth in the Britain's Best Sitcom poll, commissioned in 2004 on BBC 2.

Recently the show’s been repeated on BBC 1 and UKTV Gold, and all six series are available on DVD. Martin Clunes has also recently admitted, that he's "been watching the Men Behaving Badly repeats on TV, and laughing like a git!"

Cast & Characters

Martin Clunes - Gary Strang

Neil Morrissey - Tony Smart

Caroline Quentin - Dorothy

Leslie Ash - Deborah

Valerie Minifie - Anthea

Ian Lindsay - George

Harry Enfield - Dermot (series 1)

The show's origins

The show is based on Simon Nye’s 1989 book of the same title. TV producer Beryl Vertue came across the novel and tracked down Nye, believing it was suited for television adaptation. Harry Enfield was then cast first, and persuaded Martin Clunes that he should join the show.

The first series features Martin Clunes as Gary Strang, and Harry Enfield as his flat mate, Dermot Povey, however Enfield felt out of place in the sitcom and decided to quit the show. It has also been reported that Enfield has claimed he felt uncomfortable in the programme, and left stating that a "proper actor" would do the job far better. Simon Nye has stated that ITV picked up the series partly because Enfield agreed to star in it, and his departure influenced ITV's decision to cancel the show after just two series, when audience figures were poor. It's been claimed that this was due to ITV giving it a poor slot in the schedules, forcing the "bad behaviour" to be toned down.

In 1994 the show went to the BBC, who aired a further four series. The shift to a new station and a later timeslot meant, as the BBC have stated, the show could relish in "more colourful language and behaviour". The show became highly successful after its move to BBC 1, winning numerous awards, along with its writer and its stars.

The first series featuring Enfield has never been repeated on the BBC, although the second ITV series has been shown.


Gary Strang and Tony Smart are the beer-guzzling carefree flatmates, who spend their time watching TV and talking about women. They revel in an endless childhood and generally behaving badly (hence the title), frequently placing their fragile relationships with the two women in their lives, Dorothy and Deborah, in jeopardy.

Gary is a manager of a office, selling burglar alarms for a dead end company. His staff are two ageing employees: the hen-pecked George and eternal spinster Anthea, who regularly drive him to exasperation with their old-fashioned attitudes. Tony however, stumbles through a range of jobs including modelling, bar work and miming, after his record stall (literally) collapsing.

Dorothy, Gary’s girlfriend (played by Caroline Quentin), is a quick-witted, sensible young nurse. The pair frequently split up, are occasionally unfaithful, but always end up back together. Tony has numerous girlfriends, however his true feelings are for the attractive Deborah, played by Leslie Ash, who lives in the flat above. Tony initially wants to have sex with Deborah, however as the series progresses he ends up in love with her.

Writer Simon Nye was keen on progressing the plot, thus he moved Tony and Deborah into a relationship in series six.


The show aired for six series and forty two episodes, including a Christmas special titled "Jingle Balls", which was broadcast over Christmas 1997. A final short run of three 45 minute episodes was made in 1998 to conclude the series. These were broadcast over Christmas, as had the "final" three episodes on Only Fools And Horses two years earlier.

Series one was the only series to feature "Dermot", played by Harry Enfield, and the only series not to feature Neil Morrissey as Tony, who arrived at series two. The episodes of the first two series are 24 minutes approx because they were shown on ITV 1, hence time was needed for advertisements. When the show began on the BBC, the episodes were extended in length to twenty eight minutes approx.

DVD releases

All six series are available on region 2 DVD separately, and a complete collection featuring all six series is also available. The 1997 Christmas special and final trilogy are also available on DVD.

Due to licencing difficulties, the music at the beginning of episode one "Hair" and the rave in episode five "Cardigan" had to be changed for the Series 5 DVD.

Continuity errors

Despite been entirely written and created by Simon Nye, continuity errors are evident in the series. For example in series one, it is said by Dermot that Gary tried to impress girls by showing them his pencil-case at university, however in series four Dorothy says Gary did not go to university. Later in series five Gary also states he got all his knowledge from the “University of Life”.

In the series three episode titled “Bed”- Gary drives a car into town in order to get Dorothy some painkillers, however in series six episode three titled “Jealousy”, it is made clear Gary cannot drive. From series two onwards, Tony is seen eating cheese and also pizza from the bin but in the final episodes of Last Orders, he tells Gary that he hates cheese as it makes him retch and feel ill.


The series was not without controversy as it was claimed young males were copying their "bad behaviour", and in the public imagination it has become synonymous with the mid 1990s lad culture phenomenon. In one scene, Gary and Tony pretend to be a gay Welsh couple in order to frighten away a potential buyer of Deborah's flat. In one of the final episodes, Dorothy wakes up to find a tissue stuck to her face, which Gary has used to masturbate; this was even more controversial considering its broadcast over Christmas. The Christmas Special also features jokes relating to adult themes, which some audiences considered to be unsuitable for Christmas viewing.

Clunes once claimed that he and Morrissey were banned from advertising lager on commercial television because their roles had made them an influence on children, even though the show was broadcast after the watershed.

Other appearances and references

  • A brief sequence was included in Comic Relief 1997, titled "Men Behaving Very Badly Indeed" and featured a guest appearance by Kylie Minogue. Although references to her were in the series, this sketch had her showing up at the flat, with both Gary and Tony failing to recognise her. It was released on DVD as part of the 2002 VCI release, "Seriously Funny!"
  • Another brief appearance was for Comic Relief 1999, which showed a "Swinging Sixties" version of the show via recently discovered black-and-white footage, known as "The Naughty Boys".
  • Women Exercising Madly features the four main characters in a short scene at the start, while the main content is Debs and Dorothy taking part in a humorous exercise video, intercut with scenes from other series, before the girls get home and collapse with exhaustion.
  • Though completely unrelated to the show, Neil Morrissey lent his name to a cheap sell-through video, Neil Morrissey's Motorbike Mania. The video, which features low quality footage of motorbikes and occasional vignettes featuring Morrissey. The video was marketed to give the impression it was related to the series, with phrases including 'Wahay mates!' and 'behaving badly' used liberally throughout the inlay. It was later re-released as 'Bikes Behaving Badly'.
  • After his departure from the show, a regular sketch in Harry Enfield's Television Programme features the character of 1950s television presenter Mr Cholmondeley-Warner. In one episode, he looks at the future of television, and among the envisaged programmes was a programme called "Men Behaving Splendidly".
  • Clunes and Morrissey travelled to Australia to make and host/star in the series "Men Down Under" which featured the duo (as themselves, rather than their characters) exploring Aussie 'bloke' culture.

US Version

The series was remade for US television; broadcast on NBC 1996-1997; starred Rob Schneider, Ken Marino, Ron Eldard, and Justine Bateman; and took place in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a result the original series was eventually screened in the US on BBC America as British Men Behaving Badly whilst in Australia the US series was broadcast (on the Seven Network) as It's a Man's World.


See also

External links

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