Alas Smith and Jones

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Not to be confused with Alias Smith and Jones.
Alas Smith and Jones
BBC Smith and Jones Title Card.png
Title card from final opening sequence
Starring Mel Smith
Griff Rhys Jones
Chris Langham
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 10
No. of episodes 62
Running time 30 minutes
per normal episode
Distributor Fremantle Media
Original channel BBC2
Original run 31 January 1984 (1984-01-31) – 14 October 1998 (1998-10-14)
Preceded by Not the Nine O'Clock News

Alas Smith and Jones is a British comedy sketch television series featuring Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones that ran on BBC One and BBC Two from 31 January 1984 to 14 October 1998. From series 5 in 1989 the 'Alas' title was dropped and became simply Smith and Jones.


The series creation followed the ending of Not the Nine O'Clock News. Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stephenson followed individual career paths, whilst Smith and Jones opted to form a double act.[1] The first post-Not... appearance as a duo was in a short sketch in the BBC1 comedy special The Funny Side Of Christmas in 1982, where Jones played a complete stranger annoying hospital patient Smith to the extent that Smith's character walks out in a rage, leaving Jones' character to enjoy Smith's Christmas gifts.

Shortly afterwards the BBC offered the pair their own series, with much of the material written by themselves, with help from a large team of other writers. The show's title was a pun on that of the American television series Alias Smith and Jones. The series continued partly along the same steps of Not... of using taboo-breaking material and sketches in questionable taste (as well as bad language), and also featured head-to-head 'duologues' between Smith and Jones. The series shared several script writers with Not the Nine O'Clock News including Clive Anderson and Colin Bostock-Smith, and used Chris Langham as a cast regular, while also using Andy Hamilton, which helped keep the series to a consistently high standard.[2]

The head-to-head sketches were very much in the Pete and Dud mould - Smith was the idiot who knew everything, Jones the idiot who knew nothing.

The series was one of the first to be commissioned by the BBC from an independent company, Talkback Productions, of which Smith and Jones were also directors. The format of the Head to Head with similar characters was used by Smith and Jones in a series of commercials.

The show also had a brief run in the United States on A&E and PBS.

In late 2006, Smith and Jones returned with The Smith and Jones Sketchbook, recorded a year earlier in front of a live audience, which acted as a look back at their earlier shows. [3]

In 2007 Alas Smith and Jones was showcased on Comedy Connections, which explained the back stories behind the production of the series.


Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones originally produced a 5 minute sketch for the 1982 special The Funny Side of Christmas[4] on BBC1, which led them to get their own show initially on BBC2. The show would go on to run for ten series across 14 years, each comprising of six 30 minute episodes.[1]:

Alas Smith and Jones (BBC2)[edit]

  • Series 1: 31 January 1984 – 6 March 1984
  • Series 2: 31 October 1985 – 5 December 1985
  • Series 3: 18 September 1986 – 23 October 1986
  • Series 4: 15 October 1987 – 26 November 1987
  • The Homemade Xmas Video: Christmas Special 1987 (23 December) [5]
  • Alas Sage and Onion: Christmas Special 1988 (21 December) [6]

Smith and Jones (BBC1)[edit]

The show moved from BBC2 to BBC1 starting from the fifth series in 1989, and at the same time 'Alas' was dropped from the title.

  • Series 5: 16 November 1989 – 28 December 1989
  • Series 6: 22 November 1990 – 3 January 1991
  • Series 7: 22 October 1992 – 3 December 1992
  • Series 8: 6 September 1995 – 18 October 1995
  • Series 9: 19 June 1997 – 24 July 1997
  • Series 10: 9 September 1998 – 14 October 1998

The World According To Smith & Jones[edit]

In 1987 (between Series 3 & 4), the duo went on to London Weekend Television for The World According To Smith & Jones. The BBC was not happy about the move to a rival and came close to not renewing their relationship. Reviews for this series were mixed; critics did not know what to make of it and Smith and Rhys Jones soon appeared back with the BBC for a fourth series later that year. Despite the criticism, The World According to Smith & Jones returned for a second series in 1988, and then, disappeared from the schedules without a repeat (unlike Series 1, which was repeated in battle against the BBC in late 1987).

  • Series One: 11 January - 15 February 1987, 6 episodes
  • Series Two: 16 January - 20 February 1988, 6 episodes

Commercial releases[edit]

DVD sleeve, At Last!, Smith & Jones!

In 1991, a compilation of footage from Series 5 and 6 was compiled for a VHS release - simply titled "Smith & Jones". The second video released in 1993 featured footage from Series 1–4 of the series, particularly from the second series. A compilation DVD release The Best Of Smith And Jones was scheduled for 8 August 2005 by the BBC, but has been delayed many times and is unlikely to be released.

However, in October 2009, Fremantle Media released a two disc set titled "At Last Smith & Jones: Volume 1". This contained compilations of the first four series, as well as the two Christmas specials, "The Home Made Xmas Video" and "Alas Sage & Onion". The first of these has a scene cut, presumably for music clearance reasons, but the latter has an additional scene removed from the initial broadcast. The scene involves a plane crash, and the special was first broadcast on the same evening as the Lockerbie bombing. The set also includes the complete 1989 series "Smith & Jones In Small Doses". Volume 2 was prepared at the same time as the first release, featuring newly edited highlights episodes from the later Smith & Jones era plus the unbroadcast sitcom pilot Three Flights Up, but has yet to see release.

Tie-in books included The Smith and Jones World Atlas (a humorous gazetteer of the world's countries), Janet Lives With Mel and Griff, and The Lavishly Tooled Smith and Jones Instant Coffee Table Book (co-written with Clive Anderson), which was designed to look as if it could be made into a coffee table.

External links[edit]