Thursday, 20 July 2017
741 No Place Like Home
First viewed : March 1986
Like, I suspect, many people, my only exposure to this domestic sitcom was the 12 unendurable minutes between the end of Coronation Street on ITV and the start of Dallas on BBC 1 in the spring of 1986 when this was in its third series . That however was more than enough to earn my nomination as worst-ever sitcom.
The series was written by a Jon Watkins and concerned a middle aged couple, the Crabtrees ( William Gaunt from The Champions and Patricia Garwood ) whose four children decline to leave home. The eldest girl moves back in with aggravatingly gormless husband Raymond ( Daniel Hill ) in tow. To make matters infinitely worse they lived next door to the Bottings. Trevor ( Michael Sharvell-Martin ) was something of a soul-mate for Pa Crabtree but wife Vera was something else.
There was nothing wrong with Marcia Warren as the mother in Now and Then a few years earlier but, faced with a fairly unbelievable character in the childless animal lover Vera, she resorted to the most grotesque over-acting I've ever seen on British TV, beating even Christopher Rozycki in Casualty. Playing Vera as a demented perpetual student, she was absolutely unwatchable and her cast mates ( including a young Martin Clunes ) looked a bit embarrassed when she got going.
Clunes actually got out at the end of the third season and I suspect the producers realised they had to do something about Warren. Vera did not appear in the fourth season and when she re-surfaced in the fifth and final season in 1987 she was played by Anne Penfold.