Best British TV Comedy - Open All Hours
Best of British Comedy - Open All Hours
The British sitcom ‘Open All Hours’ run from 1976 to 1985. It remains one of the best British sitcoms on television even today. Still watched by millions on the satellite TV channel, GOLD (Go On Laugh Daily), formerly known as Comedy Gold.
Cleverly (perhaps unintentionally) it only appeared on TV every two years because both of its main lead actors, Ronnie Barker and David Jason were already achieving success with other shows.
Ronnie Barker with his uber-successful sitcoms, 'Two Ronnies' and 'Porridge' and David Jason with ‘Only Fools And Horses’.
All of these sitcoms were at the top of the TV ratings in terms of number of viewers for comedy; beaten only by soap operas like Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
Consequently this seemed to keep Open All Hours fresh and also left viewers anticipating the next series.
Open All Hours Leading Characters - Arkwright and Granville
On paper,Open All Hours does not look that enticing, it is basically about a man and his nephew running a corner shop in a sleepy Yorkshire village but writer, Roy Clarke is a master of characterisation and left Ronnie Barker to make what he wanted of stammering proprietor Arkwright.
Arkwright was written without the stammer but Ronnie Barker felt sure that he could make this characterisation work to comedic effect without insulting the watching public.
Ronnie Barker is also responsible for the dangerous till they use which shuts quickly enough to take off someone’s fingers and only shoots open when the right combination of keys are pressed.
Throughout his career, Ronnie Barker showed he was someone who understood comedy.
He knew what made people laugh – he had starred on stage in plays, in satire on TV and radio and understood how to use props properly. The till in Arkwright's shop became an ‘in joke’ on the show; you were always waiting for someone to get injured by this ancient piece of 1940s shop ware.
Ronnie Barker played Arkwright as an old skinflint, seeking out every penny he could from his customers but he does this in such an amusing way that he is both villainous and charming (a skill learned doing pantomime?) and his long-running engagement to fiancé Gladys Emmanuel makes for lots of humour with the lovely Lynda Barron, often dressed as a nurse, the butt of his stammering but still amusing double entendres.
Open All Hours' Kings of Comedy Timing - Ronnie Barker and David Jason
Ronnie Barker and David Jason play off one another so well in Open All Hours that it is often difficult to decide which is the star of the show.
They both allow on another to shine and when in scenes together, their comic timing is faultless.
David Jason has many times credited Ronnie Barker with honing his own comedic talents. In Open All Hours, David Jason straddles the worlds of comedy and pathos so brilliantly that you can laugh at him one moment and then be feeling sorry for him the next. He repeats this feat regularly as Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools And Horses.
Ronnie Barker's loveable Arkwright was a character he used as a sort of template for a later TV comedy, 'Clarence', though Clarence was very, very miopic, bumping into things and creating havoc by misidentifying objects.
Whilst this made for a lot of laughter, the show didn't survive and Ronnie Barker made the decision to retire, much to everyone's surprise, to run an antique store with his wife.
By the time he retired, sitcoms were changing in the UK and although some of the traditional comedy would survive, much would fall by the wayside in the next few years to be replaced by more radical shows like Mrs Merton, Harry Enfield, The Fast Show and the like - sketch shows were to enjoy a long period of success in the UK but not many of them can live up to Open All Hours.
Please enjoy these other British comedy articles by other hubbers....
Many thanks for reading.
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