Sunday, 7 August 2016
460 Holding The Fort
First viewed : 5 September 1980
After his huge success in the semi-comic role of Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great And Small the search was on for a suitable comedy vehicle for the likeable Peter Davison .
The first one he landed in was Holding the Fort on ITV . It's also notable as the first collaboration of the durable comic writing team of Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.
The premise was that Russell Milburn ( Davison ) didn't earn enough as a brewery manager in London to support his wife Penny ( Patricia Hodge ) and their baby daughter in the appropriate style. When the firm re-locate to Workington it's decided that he should stay at home with the baby and run a home-brew business while Penny returns to the Army ( in which she is a captain ). The series might have had something to say about the upending of traditional gender roles in the new decade but it was never very amusing.
What made the series unpalatable for me was the third member of the cast. It launched an abiding pet hate of mine. I simply cannot bear Matthew Kelly , making his TV debut here as Russell's scrounging , over-opinionated lorry driving friend Fitz. He was offensively hairy but it's that voice - loud , singsong and ever-so-camp - that just goes through me. It didn't help that he was playing an obnoxious hectoring character ( it's worth noting that he was a member of Vanessa Redgrave's Worker's Revolutionary Party at the time which may have helped win him the role ).
In the only episode I remember clearly the couple get the opportunity to re-locate to the Lake District after a holiday there but ridiculously allow Fitz to dissuade them by pointing out the location of Windscale ( former name of Sellafield ) on the map. Coupled with the disparaging references to Workington in the first episode, I can't imagine this series had too many fans in the Border TV region.
It ran for three seasons until 1982 when Davison became Dr Who.