bury one head in sand

List of One Foot in the Grave episodes

This is a list of episodes of the British sitcom One Foot in the Grave, written by David Renwick. The show ran for six series plus nine specials including two shorts for Comic Relief, from 4 January 1990 to 16 March 2001 on BBC 1.

The series features the exploits of Victor Meldrew, played by Richard Wilson, and his wife, Margaret, played by Annette Crosbie, in their battle against the trials of modern life. All episodes are 30 minutes unless stated otherwise.

Series 1 (1990)

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration (mins) Viewers (million)
Alive and Buried
4 January 1990
Susan Belbin
At the age of 60, Victor is retired from his job as a security guard to be replaced by a box and a recorded message. As he contemplates his future, he gets a visit from Nick Swainey's charity for the elderly and decides to go for a job interview.
The Big Sleep
11 January 1990
Susan Belbin
Victor's cousin Geoffrey, who had also just taken early retirement at the age of 60, dies. The Meldrews attend his atheist funeral and receive a visit from what Victor calls "the Jehovah's Witness police". As fog descends on suburbia, Victor wakes up thinking he's dead.
The Valley of Fear
18 January 1990
Susan Belbin
While photographing a sunset, Victor is mugged and graffiti is sprayed on the Meldrew's house. These events lead to Victor heading a Neighbourhood Watch meeting. Meanwhile, there's a strange smell by the sideboard, a problem with the central heating, an old woman in the loft and a cat in the freezer.
I'll Retire to Bedlam
25 January 1990
Susan Belbin
Victor is trapped in his shed for three hours thanks to a swarm of belligerent bees, stuck in the opticians for a day with his eyes shut then spends another day babysitting some unpleasant children.
The Eternal Quadrangle
1 February 1990
Susan Belbin
Margaret is pleased when Victor takes up painting, but regrets her encouragement when she discovers that he has been painting a nude model, Doreen, and giving her a lift home afterwards.
The Return of the Speckled Band
8 February 1990
Susan Belbin
Victor and Margaret are preparing for a holiday in Athens. However, they must first cope with Victor's fear of flying, Mrs Warboys' food poisoning, having their electricity meter read and an escaped snake.

Series 2 (1990)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
In Luton Airport, No One Can Hear You Scream
4 October 1990
30 minutes.
8.86 million.
The Meldrews return from their holiday to find that their baggage has been sent to the other side of the world and their house has been demolished following a terrible fire. Six months later they move into a new house, and attempt to cheer themselves up by holding a house warming party.
We Have Put Her Living in the Tomb
11 October 1990
30 minutes.
8.1 million.
While beginning to sort their new house out, the Meldrews are entrusted to look after a tortoise for Margaret's goddaughter Jennifer. However, disaster awaits when Victor decides to burn some garden rubbish. Meanwhile, someone been using TCP.
Dramatic Fever
18 October 1990
30 minutes.
10.2 million.
Victor writes a script for a new situation comedy. Unfortunately nobody else finds it very funny. Margaret also catches dramatic fever and joins an amateur dramatic society. Victor feuds with a litterbug, and the news that Margaret is in Kettering leads to the Meldrews being invited to a Bergerac party given by local thespian Desiree Gibson.
Who Will Buy?
25 October 1990
30 minutes.
10.66 million.
Victor and Margaret meet their new neighbours Patrick and Pippa for the first time. Victor has problems with a toy dinosaur salesman and Margaret befriends a lonely elderly blind man, Albert (played by Jimmy Jewel). A charity concert gives Victor the chance to air his ventriloquist skills.
Love and Death
1 November 1990
30 minutes.
10.24 million.
The Meldrews are on holiday, staying with old friends Vince (played by Stephen Lewis) and April (played by Georgina Hale) in their boarding house on the south coast. However, during the weekend a set of unfortunate coincidences leave the couple thinking the other is being unfaithful, and Victor ends up with a glass of beer super-glued to his head.
Timeless Time
8 November 1990
30 minutes.
10.7 million.
Victor is unable to sleep and thus ensures that Margaret cannot either. Things get so desperate that Victor contemplates opening Ronnie and Mildred's Christmas present from last year. This episode is set entirely in the Meldrews' bedroom. It also reveals that Victor and Margaret had a son called Stuart who died as a child.

Christmas Special (1990)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
Who's Listening?
27 December 1990
60 minutes.
10 million.
Victor has entered a wrong number in a catalogue order column which leads to the accidental delivery of 263 three-foot tall garden gnomes. Meanwhile, he becomes acquainted with an agnostic vicar and has a crisis of conscience.

Christmas Special (1991)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
The Man in the Long Black Coat
30 December 1991
55 minutes.
10.84 million.
Victor and Patrick's feud has continued and they now communicate via post-it notes. Pippa is expecting a baby, while Victor is keeping an allotment and buys some radioactive horse manure.

Series 3 (1992)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
Monday Morning Will Be Fine
2 February 1992
30 minutes.
14.75 million.
Victor and Margaret return from a shopping trip to discover that the house has been burgled, and his neighbours helped out. Victor decides not to replace the television to give them more opportunity to get out of the house. However, an evening trip to the pub results in a disconcerting experience with an old friend.
9 February 1992
30 minutes.
14.5 million.
In a coffee shop, Mrs. Warboys tells the story of how Margaret went missing following a series of haunting dreams in which she murders someone who looks exactly like Victor. Also, Mr. Swainey evades Victor's attempts to nail the fence closed and invites the Meldrews round to see his pigeons.
The Broken Reflection
16 February 1992
30 minutes.
14.5 million.
Patrick and Pippa fear the worst when they ask Victor and Margaret to look after their house whilst they are on holiday. Victor's nerves are also on edge when his absent-minded brother, Alfred, comes to stay.
The Beast in the Cage
23 February 1992
30 minutes.
15.6 million.
A day out turns into a nightmare for the Meldrews and Mrs. Warboys when the Bank Holiday traffic comes to a standstill on the motorway and they are trapped in their car staring at a horse's backside for four hours. This episode is set in summer, but was actually filmed in winter near Luton. One of the problems the cast and crew found, was that real cars were driving past the Meldrews' when filming.
Beware the Trickster on the Roof
1 March 1992
30 minutes.
16.16 million.
Mr. Swainey returns from holiday with an evil present in the form of a gift paperweight. Victor is astonished when he receives a phone call from the thieves who burgled his house asking for a manual to help program his video recorder. Patrick and Pippa attempt to sell their house, but strangely prospective buyers are put off when they encounter Victor.
The Worst Horror of All
8 March 1992
30 minutes.
16.2 million.
Victor is delighted when he finally gets a decent job as the doorman at an expensive hotel. However, after being insulted by a guest in an obvious toupee he decides that retirement is the best option after all. Meanwhile, Mrs. Warboys organises a trip to the BBC and it's desperate times when Ronnie and Mildred come calling.

Series 4 (1993)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
The Pit and the Pendulum
31 January 1993
30 minutes.
17.3 million.
Victor decides that Patrick's cherry tree is the cause of his garden being dry and enlists a Neanderthal gardener to cultivate the stray roots. However, only after an argument with the gardener does he learn that the pit could have a secondary use. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes for Margaret when she learns of the death of her mother.
Descent into the Maelstrom
7 February 1993
30 minutes.
16.67 million.
Margaret collapses from nervous exhaustion, which has been building up for the past 35 years. After a few days being looked after by Victor she decides to go back to work in order to get some peace and quiet. Andrea Temple (played by Helen Lederer), a lady Margaret knew as a girl visits Margaret with a baby that has a mysterious fondness for garden gnomes. However, Victor soon uncovers a disturbing truth about her.
Hearts of Darkness
14 February 1993
30 minutes.
17.48 million.
The Meldrews, Mrs. Warboys and Mr. Swainey take a trip into the countryside, but nothing seems to go according to plan, ending in Mrs. Warboys being concreted to Victor. While going for help, Victor stumbles upon an old people's home where the residents are being abused by the staff and hatches a plot for their liberation. The significance of the rabbit hutch at the end is a metaphor, displaying that the OAPs are free (the live rabbit) and the toy rabbit is locked inside the hutch (the staff members).
Warm Champagne
21 February 1993
30 minutes.
17 million.
After Victor returns from holiday with sunburnt feet, Margaret is annoyed at his grumbling and meets up with Ben, an acquaintance that she made on holiday, and finds herself contemplating the possibility of having an affair. However, she is surprised to find another woman in her bed when she returns home.
The Trial
28 February 1993
30 minutes.
18.39 million.
Victor spends a day at home on his own while on call for jury service. He contemplates his various ailments, receives a letter from a disgruntled Jehovah's Witness, tackles a difficult crossword, and struggles to save himself from an account of Mrs Warboys' holiday in Cork.
Secret of the Seven Sorcerers
7 March 1993
30 minutes.
17.99 million.
The Meldrews invite Patrick and Pippa round for a friendly meal, but Patrick is distinctly worried about what horrors might befall them. Meanwhile, Victor now has a new job as a lollipop man and is busy preparing for a meeting of his magician's club, although he keeps getting hoax calls from the fire brigade.

Comic Relief Special (1993)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
Victor in the Bath
12 March 1993
8 minutes.
Victor muses about life while in the bath.Quest star Paul Merton.

Christmas Specials (1993 and 1994)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
One Foot in the Algarve
26 December 1993
90 minutes.
20 million.
The Meldrews and Mrs. Warboys embark upon a hellish holiday to Portugal. After an entanglement with the police, they finally arrive at their unpleasant villa.
The Man Who Blew Away
25 December 1994
40 minutes.
15.14 million.
The Meldrews plays host to a suicidal stranger from the past, Mr Foskett (played by Brian Murphy), who they know only because they stayed in the same guesthouse 17 years ago. Meanwhile, someone has been tampering with Victor's Christmas crackers, and the Meldrews are annoyed when their unreliable stolen car is returned.

Series 5 (1995)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
Only a Story
1 January 1995
30 minutes.
16.34 million.
Mrs. Warboys stays with the Meldrews while her flat dries out after a flood. Victor tries a bit of reflexology and has a run-in with a chimney sweep.
The Affair of the Hollow Lady
8 January 1995
30 minutes.
11.17 million.
Mrs. Warboys has a wax model of herself made as the prize from a competition. Meanwhile, Millicent (played by Barbara Windsor), the local greengrocer, takes a fancy to Victor and attempts to lure him to her house when Victor misses a football match.
Rearranging the Dust
15 January 1995
30 minutes.
10.91 million.
The Meldrews suffer a long wait in their solicitor's waiting room. There Victor observes the bizarre habits of the other visitors, fidgets impatiently, and finally attacks a dog with a cake.
Hole in the Sky
22 January 1995
30 minutes.
10.87 million.
In an attempt to get Victor and Patrick to bury the hatchet, the two share an unpleasant experience in an Armenian restaurant. Victor experiments with seafood cookery and restores a Dutch marionette, much to the displeasure of Margaret. Meanwhile, the Meldrews have their loft converted.
The Exterminating Angel
29 January 1995
30 minutes.
10.39 million.
Mr. Swainey invites Tania, his mother's nurse, out for a date. Meanwhile Victor takes a job as a chauffeur but rapidly destroys his employer's (played by John Bird) beloved fleet of expensive cars.

Christmas Specials (1995 to 1997)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
The Wisdom of the Witch
25 December 1995
60 minutes.
17.77 million.
When cousin Ursula dies, Victor and Margaret have to clear her house in the country. But before they go, a witch predicts Victor will come to an untimely end. Meanwhile, Patrick and Pippa are preparing to finally move away from the Meldrews.
# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
26 December 1996
60 minutes.
17.47 million.
The Meldrews return home to find a man living in their shed (played by Ray Winstone), who it later turns out is a drug dealer. Victor has a new job as a gardener working for Patrick's new boss Fenella Fortune (played by Rula Lenska). However, it seems that weedkiller has become an appropriate title. Meanwhile, Mr. Swainey's mother is claiming that she is being abducted by aliens every night. Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds is used in the closing credits.
# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
27 December 1997
70 minutes.
15.76 million.
The Meldrews are trying to make an effort to get on with their pleasant new neighbours, Derek (played by Tim Brooke-Taylor) and Betty McVitie. Matters are complicated when the two couples go on holiday in the same rented cottage, Victor buys a haunted caravan and then accidentally kidnaps the Indian mother of a millionaire.

Series 6 (2000)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
The Executioner's Song
16 October 2000
30 minutes
11.41 million.
Victor has a new job as a window-cleaner. Meanwhile, Patrick's plans for a quiet birthday are ruined after an unfortunate misunderstanding involving a modern art painting and Pippa finds herself in an adulterous affair.
Tales of Terror
23 October 2000
30 minutes
10.94 million.
Victor is angry at the poor job builders have made of his new barbecue. Meanwhile, their new car needs to have its obscene number plates changed, and Victor has a health scare, perhaps brought about by playing an amateur-dramatic vampire.
The Futility of the Fly
30 October 2000
30 minutes
10.58 million.
Victor regrets hiring an attractive cleaner to help around the house as he inadvertently gets Mrs. Warboys tattooed. Meanwhile, Mrs Warboys finds a deep-fried finger in her chips and a large plastic fly is delivered.
Threatening Weather
6 November 2000
30 minutes
8.94 million.
After a powercut on the hottest day of the year, Victor has nothing better to do than complain. Later the Meldrews play host to an incontinent visitor (played by Roy Hudd).
The Dawn of Man
13 November 2000
30 minutes
9.45 million.
Victor's new fishing hobby leads to an unfortunate encounter with a Fly-tipping. Meanwhile, a visit from Patrick's gay twin brother leaves Pippa feeling mentally and physically exhausted, especially when Patrick sits on a cork.
Things Aren't Simple Anymore
20 November 2000
45 minutes.
12.84 million.
After a disappointing reunion dinner, Victor is killed in a road accident. Afterwards, Margaret faces up to life without him, but receives another shock when she discovers that Victor's killer is her new best friend Glynis (played by Hannah Gordon). What she then does is left ambiguous.

Comic Relief Special (2001)

# Title Original Airdate Duration Viewers
Visiting Uncle Dick
16 March 2001
8 minutes.
Margaret is visiting a relative in hospital. Victor is his usual self; complaining about everything, and Margaret is her usual self; pretending not to hear him... or is she?



  • Richard Webber, "The Complete One Foot in the Grave", Orion Books, 2006Specific

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