Comedy Corner: Dad

Welcome to the first post from my Comedy Corner, the bit of this blog where I gather up my memories of long forgotten Comedy programmes.

BBC 1, 2 Series, 1997 – 1999

George Cole starred in this sitcom which didn’t quite gain widespread popularity and hasn’t really been repeated on UK screens but my quest to find it a few years ago revealed it was released on DVD in Australia.

George Cole played ‘Dad’ Brian

Written by Andrew Marshall, who also wrote 2 Point 4 Children. That show was undoubtedly popular throughout the 1990s, even if its not so well remembered today.

Both shows were set in bog standard family settings but they were not conventional sofa sitcoms. Instead the plot would go down a surreal route. Dad was a bit tamer in this respect but I still remember it being extremely funny.

The sitcom was set primarily around Alan, played by Kevin McNally, the son of Dad Brian, played by George Cole. Brian was a source of constant embarrassment for Alan who himself embarrassed his son Vincent, despite his best efforts to do the opposite.

Alan, his finger is glued up his nose in this scene

Alan’s wife is Beryl, played by Julia Hills, whose character was completely the opposite of Rhona who she played in 2 Point 4 Children. Beryl was a straight laced librarian – the kind of person Alan would probably find embarrassing to have as a parent, but of course she comes across as down to earth and normal.

That was the bulk of the main cast, Alan’s Mum is rarely mentioned and its assumed she died when Alan was young. Alan is also an only child so no sibling rivalries to be spoken of.

Instead Alan is seemingly at war with everyone but in reality at war with himself and his desperate bid to not embarrass Vincent. Much hillarity ensues. In one scene Vincent is berating Alan’s taste in music by listing various genres of music like Trance, House, Handbag.

“I don’t think you want to do that Alan…”

Brain typically advising Alan, who is doing something risky to prevent his Dad being put at risk.

There is genuine sencerity. Brian has a heart condition which Alan is constantly anxious about. It’s something Brian plays on if Alan is getting a bit too much.

Brian has the most unlikely catchphrase ever, a simple ‘Hello…’ which is enough to irritate Alan. Worryingly I sometimes find myself replicating it when I am greeting people in am insincere way.

As with 2 Point 4 Children, Andrew Marshall writes ridiculous but almost believable situations. Like Alan getting locked in a greenhouse with a faulty irrigation system, he’s saved by the opera music blasting out of speakers as a cat deterent shattering the glass.

Alan trapped in a greenhouse full of water.

As with a lot of genuinley funny comedies sometimes the best laughs come from the smaller incidental scenes, like Beryl being on hold on the phone. She hums along with Raindrops keep Falling on my Head but is belting it out by the time the other end picks up.

There were two series, every episode played on the word Dad, like ‘Holidad’, ‘Securidad’ etc. The final episode a Christmas special broke with that tradition as the BBC reportedly felt ‘Feliz Navidad’ was too obscure for a title.

That final epsiode also marked a possible change in direction had the series continued with a rival childhood friend returning to haunt Alan. But the series ended there to the surprise of the cast and the writer.

I was a big fan of the show when it first aired. While it has been written that the writer Andrew Marshall was certain of a third series I didn’t really like the change in direction that the Christmas episode showed but it is a shame that the series has never been released or repeated.

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