Arkwright (Open All Hours)

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Albert Arkwright
Open all hours arkwright.jpg
Open All Hours character
Portrayed by Ronnie Barker
Duration 1973–85
First appearance Pilot: Open All Hours
Last appearance "The Mystical Boudoir of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel"
Profile
Occupation Shopkeeper
Home Yorkshire

Albert E. Arkwright, usually referred to simply as Arkwright or occasionally as 'Uncle' by his nephew, Granville is a fictional character in the British sitcom, Open All Hours played by Ronnie Barker. Arkwright is the proprietor of an old fashioned Yorkshire corner shop, which in the era of the programme (1970s and 1980s) was a product of a bygone age. Arkwright is well known for his stammer, which Granville never misses an opportunity to mock.

Character[edit]

Arkwright is a pragmatic, miserly man with old fashioned values, whose world seems to stop at his shop door, except for his uncontrollable lust for Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron), which may prompt him on occasion to wander across the road, usually with a ladder, to gain access to her bedroom window. Arkwright is a devious, and mildly dishonest character, who has many crafty tricks to try to persuade a customer to leave his store having bought at least one thing, and will avoid spending his own money at all cost. He is also very conservative about his savings, keeping some in his pocket wrapped in a fine gold chain, and some in an old, battered Oxo tin that he hides under the kitchen sink. This includes, or so he claims, coins from before 1922, when they were 'solid silver'. He loves money so much that the last time he spent a whole night away from the shop was in 1957, when he went to have his appendix out. The till itself is old fashioned, and possesses a tight spring-clip that regularly puts Granville and his fingers in danger. Arkwright refuses to replace it because of the price of a replacement, and because it prevents people from taking his precious money. Although an avid political commentator, he has few political convictions and never sides with either the left or right wing, instead implying they are all useless. Arkwright does however seem fervently opposed to nationalisation, once commenting "My top lip went all stiff and dead, as if it had been nationalised." His political comments usually show no allegiances, instead making remarks like When Wales get home rule, do you think they'll nationalise Clive Jenkins?

Arkwright appears to be a believer in a supreme being, although he is certainly not portrayed to be a religious man. Most episodes end with him on the pavement outside the shop, contemplating the day with God. His thoughts often start with an expression like Soon they'll only be me and thee that aren't either nationalised or a limited company.

Arkwright, like most characters in the series, is a rational, practical man, who shows no signs of any sentimentality, unlike Granville, who seems to dream away most of his days.

Arkwright suffers with a stutter, which sometimes makes it hard for him to say words, like when he says Granville, how do you spell P-p-p-pepper? Is it 6 P's or 7?, Granville likes to mock this stammer. Arkwright also appears to stammer even when thinking to himself.

By the time of Still Open All Hours, Arkwright has long since passed away, but almost all of his personality traits have passed onto Granville. Granville keeps a framed photograph of Arkwright in the shop's kitchen.

Relationship to Granville[edit]

Arkwright's sister, whose name is never known, died shortly after giving birth to Granville. Less as an act of love and more as a source of free labour, Arkwright brought up the child. Arkwright paints a picture of his sister being a floozy and possibly a part-time prostitute. He sees no harm in this, seeing this as an enterprising choice of career. This is often implied by phrases such as "Just take the man's money and smile Granville, that's what your mother would have done", "You're j-just like your mother, happiness is h-horizontal", or, "Now, d-don't misunderstand me, s-some people loved dearly! Others used to get it on discount". Granville is often made to pay for anything he takes from the shop's shelves, even if Arkwright was the one who gave it to him.

Relationship with Gladys Emmanuel[edit]

Gladys is the district nurse, who Arkwright is informally engaged to. Their engagement doesn't seem to be serious, however they do seem to be fond of each other. Most of the characters who use the shop are old fashioned, domesticated characters, and while Gladys is very straight forward and Arkwright is somewhat eccentric, she does seem to find company in him, as he is probably more enlightened than most in the area. Gladys always says she won't marry Arkwright until her mother (who is in her eighties) dies, a day that Arkwright seems to look forward to. However, Gladys has also claimed on several occasions that she refrains from marrying him because of his old-fashioned shop equipment, his miserly personality or his overworking of Granville. Nurse Gladys Emmanuel is Arkwright's sexual conquest, although he never manages it in the series, he does come close, with the two of them attempting to make love in the back of a Mini van, but with the van being too small for them, they give up.

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