On the Up
was a British situation comedy
written by Bob Larbey
. It ran for three series, from 1990
Tony Carpenter is self-made millionaire who turned his South London
minicab firm into a successful chauffeur-driven car service. He lives in a large detached mansion in Esher
, surrounded by Rolls Royces and BMWs, with a domestic staff who respect him, and who he adores — witty and insolent butler/driver Sam, acerbic secretary Maggie and cook Mrs. Wembley (responsible for the series' catch-phrase of "Just the one", used to describe her sherries even if it was her third or fourth).
Despite all these advantages, Tony's life is full of conflict:
- His working-class background and sensibilities make him uncomfortable with the idea of having domestic staff, and in dealing with local snobs.
- Nothing he does seems to please his snooty wife Ruth, who hates his downmarket behaviour, constantly suspects him of infidelity with either Maggie or Dawn (both of whom are significantly younger than herself), and cannot abide the "chummy" relationship he has with "servants".
- Then there is daughter Stephanie, away from home at a Public School and thus being inculcated with upper / middle class sensibilities, who is embarrassed by both her father's differing outlook, and by the unsettled relationship between her parents.
- Finally there is his mother, who is still living in a South London terrace, and never seems impressed with his achievements, finding herself unable to understand why he lives "all the way over there" (in reality about 14 miles or 40 minutes' by car, or a few stops -- less than 20 minutes -- by train) in his big house.
Although this series is presented as SitCom, the story arc is actually about the failure of a marriage and its impact on the family and friends of the couple. Unusually for a British SitCom, the story-lines of episodes within each series are largely contiguous, and although filmed over 3 years the timeline probably takes place in the Spring and Summer of a single year.
- Dennis Waterman as Tony Carpenter, the lead character, owner of a luxury car hire business in the Surrey "Stockbroker Belt" and ardent supporter of Crystal Palace F.C.
- Sam Kelly as Sam Jones, a friend of Tony since their days at Clapham Parochial School, an ex Merchant Seaman, and the first driver he ever employed, now employed as chauffeur to the Carpenter family
- Joan Sims as Mrs. Fiona Wembley, the Carpenter family's cordon bleu cook
- Jenna Russell as Maggie Lomax, a young Scottish secretary of strong socialist leanings, presumably of catholic stock as she is a Hibs supporter
- Judy Buxton as Ruth Carpenter, who is described in the title song as regarding her husband as a "bit of rough"
- Michelle Hatch as Dawn, a lifelong friend-of-the-family and currently a Lingerie Model
- Vanessa Hadaway as Stephanie Carpenter, Ruth and Tony Carpenter's teenage daughter
- Dora Bryan (series 1) then Pauline Letts (series 2 and 3) as Mrs Carpenter Senior, Tony's Mum
- Fiona Mollison as Jane Webster (Series 2-3), from nearby Cobham, the mother of one of Stephanie's school friends, Marina Webster
The open titles are a classical instrumental piece, played by the Guildhall Ensemble, but the closing credits
are accompanied by Dennis Waterman's rendition of the series' custom theme tune. This continues a pattern from his long running comedy-drama series Minder