Watching was a British television sitcom, produced by Granada Television for the ITV network and broadcast for seven series and four specials between 1987 and 1993.
The series was written by Jim Hitchmough and starred Paul Bown and Emma Wray as mismatched couple Malcolm Stoneway and Brenda Wilson.
was set in Merseyside
, with Brenda coming from Liverpool
and Malcolm coming from Meols
on the Wirral
. The title refers to a game
that initially Brenda and her sister Pamela (played by Liza Tarbuck
), and later Brenda and Malcolm, play in the pub
. They watch other customers and try to guess their occupations, their lifestyles and other pertinent facts about them.
Quiet biker Malcolm, who lived with his domineering mother (played by Patsy Byrne), was accompanied on his birdwatching trips by loud scouser Brenda, who was forced to ride in his sidecar. The series followed their on/off relationship, during which Malcolm married Lucinda (played by Elizabeth Morton).
Brenda and Malcolm married each other in the final episode, Knotting, broadcast on 4 April 1993.
was originally conceived as a comedy sketch about a shy birdwatcher and a lively girl, written by Hitchmough during a drama workshop at the Everyman Theatre
. He submitted the sketch for the BBC satirical series Not The Nine O'Clock News
but it was rejected. Undeterred by this, Hitchmough developed the sketch into a hit stage play and later won a commission from Granada Television
to produce a seven-part series for broadcast on Sunday nights at 10:00pm (a timeslot which was usually reserved for satirical comedy such as Yorkshire TV
's The New Statesman
and Central TV
's Spitting Image
). After a successful first series and subsequent Christmas special, Watching
was recommissioned and moved to an earlier timeslot of 8:00pm on Friday nights. Up until the end of its final run (broadcast at 7pm on Sunday), the series would win audiences of over 17 million viewers.
Originally, the series was produced by David Liddiment (later to become Director of Programming at ITV) and directed by Les Chatfield, a senior director at Granada. Chatfield directed all 56 episodes and took over producing duties from series 3 onwards. Liddiment became the series' executive producer.
Emma Wray sang the theme song, What Does He See in Me?, which was written by Charles Hart. Incidental music was written and composed by Richie Close.
Book, video and DVD releases
A novel based around the first series of Watching
and written by Jim Hitchmough was published in 1990 by Bantam Books.
A video featuring the first two episodes, Meeting and Wrestling was released by CastleVision in August 1993.
The complete first series, including the 1987 Christmas special (Seasoning), was released on DVD in February 2006. The complete second series was released in March 2008. Both releases are distributed by Network DVD.