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till all hours

Open All Hours

Open All Hours was a BBC sitcom written by Roy Clarke which ran for four series (26 episodes in all) between 1976 and 1985, with a pilot episode from the Seven of One series in 1973. In 2004, the series was voted eighth in Britain's Best Sitcom.

Plot

The series features a small grocer's shop in Balby, a suburb of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. The owner, Arkwright (Ronnie Barker), is a middle-aged miser with a stammer and a knack of being able to sell anything . His nephew Granville (David Jason) is the put-upon errand boy, whose attempts at a love-life or even just a meaningful social life fall flat. He blames his uncle, in particular that he has to be up early to open the shop and stay late to close it. Almost every mistake Arkwright makes is followed by a cry of "Ger-Granville! Fer-fetch yer cloth!". A recurring joke revolves around Arkwright's claim that Granville's estranged father was Hungarian — an issue never resolved. Arkwright made cracks about the sexlife of his late sister (Granville's mother).

The shop is crowded and most goods can only be reached from behind the counter — allowing Arkwright a chance to hawk more goods. The till is old, and a spring on its drawer terrifies Granville and Arkwright, who is too much a miser to buy a new one.

Across the road lives Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron), Arkwright's long-standing fiancée; much of the skinflint's time is dedicated to trying to make her marry him, or at least sleep with him. Nurse Gladys has her rounds and her elderly mother to occupy her. She is protective of Granville and tries to use her influence with Arkwright to get him a better life. In the pilot episode, Nurse Gladys was played by Sheila Brennan with an Irish accent, and the character was slimmer than the buxom creature she became, played by Lynda Baron.

Other regulars included the milkwoman (Barbara Flynn) for whom Granville had the hots; Mavis (Maggie Ollerenshaw) a young woman who could not make up her mind what to buy; Mrs Blewett (Kathy Staff), with a critical word for everyone; and Mrs Featherstone (Stephanie Cole), the Black Widow, a sour-faced miser who admired Arkwright for being likewise.

Episodes generally involve some plan by Arkwright to wed Nurse Gladys, save money or sell more stuff, and end with Arkwright shutting shop for the night with his reflection on the day.

A few complaints were registered over humorous use of a speech impediment but Arkwright was so amiable and the humour so good-natured that most deemed it a portrayal without malice. The part was originally written without the stammer — Barker suggested it and it became part of Arkwright's character. Similarly, the dangerous cash-register was created mostly by Barker.

Two of Ronnie Barker's fake moustaches (donated by the BBC) used in the show were auctioned at the British Stammering Association conference in London, September 2005.

The show's theme tune is a song called Alice, where art thou? music written by Joseph Ascher . It was played in an arrangement for brass band by Max Harris, who also wrote incidental music for the series.

Locations

The exterior shots were in Lister Avenue in Balby, a suburb of Doncaster; the shop itself is a hairdresser's salon.

Gladys Emmanuel's house was 34 Lister Avenue, Balby, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in the first series, but moved to number 32 in the second series .

The local council is considering demolishing the shop used in Open All Hours and a web site has been set up for fans of the show to post messages in support of saving the shop.

All four series of all 26 episodes have now been released on DVD.

Cast

The following have appeared in more than one episode.

Actor name Character name Episodes Years
Ronnie Barker Arkwright 26 episodes (#1,2,3,4) 1976-1985
David Jason Granville 26 episodes (#1,2,3,4) 1976-1985
Lynda Baron Nurse Gladys Emmanuel 25 episodes (#1,2,3,4) 1976-1985
Barbara Flynn The Milk Woman 10 episodes (#2,3,4) 1981-1985
Stephanie Cole Mrs. Featherstone 10 episodes (#3,4) 1982-1985
Kathy Staff Mrs. Blewett 7 episodes (#1,2) 1976-1981
Maggie Ollerenshaw Mavis 7 episodes (#2,3) 1981-1982
Frances Cox Mrs. Parslow 5 episodes (#2,3,4) 1981-1985
Tom Mennard Cyril 3 episodes (#3,4) 1982-1985
Madge Hindle Mrs. Jardine / Posh Customer 2 episodes (#1,3) 1976-1982
Barbara Keogh Mrs. Ellis 2 episodes (#1) 1976
Howard Crossley Man in Car / Milk Round Supervisor 2 episodes (#2,3) 1981-1982
Nick Stringer Neville / Man 2 episodes (#2,3) 1981-1982
Teddy Turner Gordon 2 episodes (#2,3) 1981-1982
Alan Starkey Thorndyke 2 episodes (#3,4) 1982-1985
Helen Cotterill Julie 2 episodes (#3) 1982
Sandra Voe Mrs. Bickerdyke 2 episodes (#4) 1985

Episode list

Pilot

Air Date: 25th March 1973

Main Cast: Ronnie Barker (Albert Arkwright), David Jason (Granville)

Synopsis: Part of the Seven of One series

Episode Title Broadcast details
#1 Open All Hours 25th Mar 1973 - BBC2 Sun 8.15pm
Cast Sheila Brennan (Nurse Gladys Emmanuel), Keith Chegwin (Boy Buying Lolly), Elissa Derwent (Girl from Petrol Station), Yootha Joyce (Mrs. Scully), David Valla (Bread Man)
Synopsis This was our first sight of Arkwright, the miserly Northern shopkeeper who victimises his delivery boy and nephew.

Series 1

Air Date: 20th February 1976 - 26th March 1976

Main Cast:

Ronnie Barker (Albert Arkwright)
David Jason (Granville)
Lynda Baron (Nurse Gladys Emmanuel)

Synopsis: Ronnie Barker stars as Arkwright, the stuttering grocer. Arkwright's urge to take money from customers is second only to his need to prevent his nephew, Granville, from discovering a world beyond the shop bell... And, of course, his passion for nurse Gladys Emmanuel.

Episode Title Broadcast details
#1 Full Of Mysterious Promise 20th Feb 1976 - BBC2 Fri 9pm
Cast John Lawrence (Mr. Bristow), Gillian McClements (Gloria), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett), Peter Wallis (Winston), Poppy Lane (Extra -uncredited)
Synopsis “Why don’t we get engaged before we both grow a moustache?” What’s more fruitless – Arkwright’s pursuit of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, or his attempt to sell tins of food without labels?
#2 A Mattress On Wheels 27th Feb 1976 - BBC2 Fri 9pm
Cast Juliet Cooke (Eva), Jean Heywood (Vera), George Innes (Used Car Salesman), Barbara Keogh (Mrs. Ellis), Harry Markham (Freddie)
Synopsis Arkwright’s always been dead against getting a van, until Granville points out the advantages of taking a lady friend for a drive...
#3 A Nice Cosy Little Disease 5th Mar 1976 - BBC2 Fri 9pm
Cast Juliet Ackroyd (Linda Mulgrave), Tony Aitken (Norman), Graham Armitage (Man from Matlock Mutual Protection Society), Clare Kelly (Mrs. Braddock), Barbara Keogh (Mrs. Ellis)
Synopsis Perhaps a nice cosy little disease on Arkwright’s part would be the thing to attract the ministrations of a certain district nurse?
#4 Beware of the Dog 12th Mar 1976 - BBC2 Fri 9pm
Cast Kevin Moreton (Boy), Shirley Steedman (Maureen)
Synopsis A crime wave scares an already security-obsessed Arkwright – the shop has to be fortified
#5 Well Catered Funeral 19th Mar 1976 - BBC2 Fri 9pm
Cast Reginald Barratt (Mr. Wilkinson), John Challis (Bread Man), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett), Elizabeth Dawn (Woman Outside Shop - uncredited)
Synopsis His best friend’s funeral tests Arkwright’s generosity.
#6 Apples And Self Service 26th Mar 1976 - BBC2 Fri 9pm
Cast Edna Doré (Woman Wanting Firelighters), Madge Hindle (Mrs. Jardine), John McKelvey (Hard of Hearing Man), Michael Redfern (Southerner)
Synopsis Slow apple sales lead to a self-service experiment.

Series 2

Air Date: 1st March 1981 - 19th April 1981

Main Cast:

Ronnie Barker (Albert Arkwright)
David Jason (Granville)
Lynda Baron (Nurse Gladys Emmanuel)

Synopsis: Arkwright continues to risk amputation rather than replace his till. As Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, the owner of an awesome bosom and an old Morris Minor, deflates his amorous advances, Arkwright seeks solace in bullying his over-worked, sexually and socially-frustrated nephew and errand boy, G-G-G-Granville.

Episode Title Broadcast details
#1 Laundry Blues 1st Mar 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Matthew Scurfield (Man from Bus Stop), Renu Setna (VAT Man), Nick Stringer (Neville)
Synopsis “When Nurse Gladys Emmanuel tells Arkwright that he must buy a new washing machine, he is forced to come up with an ingenious plan to keep her happy and his savings undisturbed.
#2 The Reluctant Traveller 8th Mar 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett)
Synopsis Nurse Gladys Emmanuel and Arkwright are finally going to spend the night together at a hotel... with an over-tight money belt.
#3 Fig Biscuits And Inspirational Toilet Rolls 15th Mar 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Howard Crossley (Man in Car), Mike Kelly (Delivery Man), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett)
Synopsis Arkwright's marketing genius comes to the fore as he tries to shift some over-stocked items.
#4 The New Suit 22nd Mar 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Michael Bilton (Hypnotist), Frances Cox (Mrs. Parslow), Frances Goodall (Woman on Bench), Emrys James (Eli Bickerdyke), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett)
Synopsis Arkwright has to buy a new suit – on Nurse Gladys Emmanuel's say so.
#5 Arkwright's Mobile Store 29th Mar 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Brian Peck (Customer), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett), Paula Tilbrook (Mrs. Tattersall)
Synopsis Arkwright proves his ambition by expanding the business... he buys an old ice-cream van.
#6 Shedding At The Wedding 5th Apr 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Roger Elliott (Mr. Bristow), Stuart Fell (Motorcyclist), Patsy Smart (Customer), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Blewett)
Synopsis Arkwright's wedding suit smells of mothballs. Hanging his trousers out of Gladys' car was never going to be a good idea...
#7 St Albert's Day 19th Apr 1981 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Frances Cox (Mrs. Parslow), Oscar Quitak (Hungarian), Teddy Turner (Gordon)
Synopsis Arkwright invents a Saint's day so that Granville can check the pockets of a foreign visitor who he suspects of shoplifting.

Series 3

Air Date: 21st March 1982 - 25th April 1982

Main Cast:

Ronnie Barker (Albert Arkwright)
David Jason (Granville)
Lynda Baron (Nurse Gladys Emmanuel)

Synopsis: Ronnie Barker's stuttering shopkeeper Arkwright lives for just three things - a regularly ringing till, a glimpse of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel's more than ample bosom and making the life of his nephew and errand boy, G-G-G-Granville ever more miserable...

Episode Title Broadcast details
#1 An Errand Boy By The Ear 21st Mar 1982 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Bridget Ashburn (Mrs. Turner), Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Madge Hindle (Posh Customer), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Sue Race (Mrs. Ellis), Nick Stringer (Man)
Synopsis Arkwright's baffled when his customers get upset with his treatment of Granville. Surely, "it's what errand boys are for."
#2 The Ginger Men 28th Mar 1982 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Helen Cotterill (Julie), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Bert Gaunt (Bert - Bread Man), Tom Mennard (Cyril), Alan Starkey (Thorndyke)
Synopsis Why is Arkwright forcing his ginger cake upon Nurse Gladys? Could it be he has overstocked? And if it really is an old Jamaican aphrodisiac, Granville's acting like he's overdosed.
#3 Duet For Solo Bicycle 4th Apr 1982 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Sally Miles (Mrs. Whittington), Donald Morley (Man Looking for Directions), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Liz Whiting (Wendy)
Synopsis A squeak in the shop's bicycle is driving Granville round the bend, but can it really be affecting his love-life?
#4 How To Ignite Your Errand Boy 11th Apr 1982 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Frances Cox (Mrs. Parslow), Howard Crossley (Milk Round Supervisor), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Frank Marlborough (Delivery man), Tom Mennard (Cyril), David Thackwray (Boy)
Synopsis Arkwright's plan to make his own fire lighters has a snag, they may be somewhat dangerous to make...Oh well, Granville is not busy...
#5 "The Man From Down Under" 18th Apr 1982 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Janet Davies (Mrs. Blake), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Johnny Leeze (Man Whose Tyres Were Let Down), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis), Teddy Turner (Gordon)
Synopsis When one of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel's admirers returns from Australia, Arkwright proffers a real Yorkshire welcome...
#6 The Cool Cocoa Tin Lid 25th Apr 1982 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast John Bleasdale (Dennis), Helen Cotterill (Julie), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Tony London (Youth), Mollie Maureen (Old Woman)
Synopsis Granville decides to get cool. He's got the open necked shirt and the shades, but where's a poor errand boy going to find a medallion?
Special The Funny Side Of Christmas 27th Dec 1982 - BBC1 Mon 8.05pm
Cast
Synopsis Short special part of The Funny Side Of Christmas

Series 4

Air Date: 1st September 1985 - 6th October 1985

Main Cast:

Ronnie Barker (Albert Arkwright)
David Jason (Granville)
Lynda Baron (Nurse Gladys Emmanuel)

Synopsis: Ronnie Barker's great creation Arkwright continues to mind the store where the only thing going cheap is talk. The elusive Nurse Gladys Emmanuel is still there to drive him to distraction, while delivery boy Granville just yearns for a trendy girlfriend, a high-powered executive job, a sports car or even a new bell on his bicycle.

Episode Title Broadcast details
#1 Soulmate Wanted 1st Sep 1985 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Gilly Coman (Girl Who Answers Advert), Christine Ozanne (Customer), Norman Robbins (Mr. Halliwell), Jean Warren (Michelle)
Synopsis Granville is desperate for female company, so he decides to resort to advertising. He ends up getting more than he bargained for.
#2 Horse-Trading 8th Sep 1985 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Charlotte Barker (Customer), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), John Rutland (Black Lead Customer), Nadim Sawalha (Albert Gupta), Alan Starkey (Thorndyke)
Synopsis Arkwright thinks he's done great business when he offloads some genuine Yorkshire clothes horses on a local Asian shopkeeper...
#3 The Housekeeper Caper 15th Sep 1985 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Joe Belcher (Shopfitter), Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Frances Cox (Mrs. Parslow), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Patricia Kane (Little Old Lady), Sandra Voe (Mrs. Bickerdyke)
Synopsis Arkwright advertises for a live-in housekeeper. It doesn't succeed in getting Nurse Gladys Emmanuel jealous but does tempt the "Black Widow", the formidable Mrs Featherstone...
#4 The Errand Boy Executive 22th Sep 1985 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Howell Evans (Victor - Vac Salesman), Julie Shipley (Stephanie), Sandra Voe (Mrs. Bickerdyke)
Synopsis To impress Stephanie, a young lady from the boutique, Granville claims he is an "executive" and that Arkwright is his "faithful old assistant".
#5 Happy Birthday Arkwright 29th Sep 1985 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Howard Lew Lewis (Byron), Tom Mennard (Cyril), John Owens (Windscreen Smear Customer)
Synopsis What does Arkwright want for his birthday? Certainly not a visit from the man from the Good Shop Guide.
#6 The Mystical Boudoir Of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel 6th Oct 1985 - BBC1 Sun 7.15pm
Cast Barbara Ashcroft (Mrs. Turnbull), Bobby Bragg (Customer), Stephanie Cole (Mrs. Featherstone), Frances Cox (Mrs. Parslow), Barbara Flynn (The Milk Woman), Eric Richard (Cash Register Salesman)
Synopsis Arkwright will do anything to get himself into Nurse Gladys Emmanuel's bedroom, including the use of a ladder and a box of chocolates. Meanwhile Granville takes to wearing tights on his head.

References

External links

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