Game On (UK TV series)
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|Created by||Andrew Davies and Bernadette Davis|
|Starring||Ben Chaplin (series 1)
Neil Stuke (series 2 & 3)
|Opening theme||"Where I Find My Heaven" by Gigolo Aunts|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||18|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hat Trick Productions|
|Original run||27 February 1995– 6 February 1998|
Game On was a British television sitcom series about the lives of three 20-somethings from Herne Bay sharing a flat in Battersea in south-west London. The title, originally derived from a stock screen term used by 1980s early computer video games to initiate a competitive encounter, was taken from English urban slang speech of the 1990s lad culture which the principal character Matthew Malone was an exemplar of. It was directed by John Stroud, produced by Sioned William and the BBC Television Head of Comedy Geoffrey Perkins, and executive produced by Denise O'Donohue on behalf of Hat Trick Productions for the BBC.
After a successful first series, the option suffered somewhat from the loss its lead player Ben Chaplin, who quit the cast unexpectedly after receiving an offer of a film role in Hollywood on the back of his performance in Game On.
- Matthew Malone (Ben Chaplin for the first series, subsequently Neil Stuke) – acutely agoraphobic and slightly insane. It is implied that shortly before the start of the series, Matthew's parents died in a car accident, meaning that he fears the outside world and has inherited his flat and enough money to need never work. Even passing his front door causes a panic attack but he always thought of himself as a cool guy; he had a surfboard despite his condition. Loves to use the word "tosser" and the phrase "double hard bastard" and in an ongoing gag throughout the entire series would mock his flatmate Martin for being ginger. Despite describing himself as a "double hard bastard," he secretly enjoys things that could be characterised as "effeminate," such as 1940s "love story" movies and Emmerdale Farm.
- Martin Henson (Matthew Cottle) – a tangerine haired banker without attitude, Matthew's slave and source of entertainment. His sister is Claudia, and by extension, is a few years younger than Mandy, and has known Mandy since they were kids.
- Mandy Wilkins (Samantha Janus) – ambitious career girl who finds herself going nowhere except to bed with an endless stream of men (northern by preference). Many of the men she sleeps with, she is not particularly attracted to, and there are hints throughout the series that she is simply addicted to sex (she tries during the second series to abstain from sex entirely). In early episodes there were running gags involving Mandy's history of childhood bedwetting (which did not cease until she was 13). Despite earning a degree at university, she is stuck in temporary secretarial jobs, and envies her best friend Claudia, who did the same things Mandy did but is going places.
- Clare Monahan (Tracy Keating) – Martin's Irish girlfriend in the second series and then his ex. She meets Martin and initially makes a deal with him to lose her virginity, not knowing that he was also a virgin. They start dating and eventually break up due to Martin's inability to trust her around other men, and irreconcilable life paths (Clare wanted to travel the world while Martin did not). She appears in five episodes of series two, and four episodes of series three. Actress Tracy Keating also makes a further appearance in the final episode as a different character, a woman who Martin pursues because she looks like Clare. Keating plays this part with an English accent.
- Archie Glenister (Crispin Bonham-Carter) – Mandy's boss, lover and groom to be in the third series. Dies unexpectedly on his wedding day to Mandy.
- Jason (Mark Powley) – Mandy's friend from college (the one she never had sex with). A psychotherapist who poses as Mandy's cousin to try and help Matt overcome his agrophobia. Appears in three consecutive episodes of series two.
- Marco – Mandy's Italian tutor who she struggles to resist in her short-lived dabble with celibacy. Appears in two consecutive episodes of series two.
- Stoat (Eddie Marsan) – Mandy's ex-boyfriend from school. Only appears in one episode, but is later revealed to have fathered the daughter she gave away as a teenager.
- Claudia Henson (Rebecca Lacey) – Martin's older sister, and Mandy's best friend. Although frequently referred to throughout all three series, she actually only appears in one episode of the first series when she and Mandy go clubbing, and never shares any scenes with Martin.
Series 1 (1995)
|1||"Working Girls"||27 February 1995|
|It's Martin's birthday and Matt sets up a special birthday surprise. Meanwhile Mandy meets an author who wants her to do research – into the contents of his underpants.|
|2||"Matthew, A Suitable Case for Treatment"||6 March 1995|
|Spend a day with Matthew and find out what he gets up to stuck in the flat all day, every day.|
|3||"Bad Timing"||13 March 1995|
|Mandy has a fling after she feels trapped in her new week-long relationship and Matthew starts looking for a new tenant after Martin decides to leave to become a teacher.|
|4||"'The Great Escape"||20 March 1995|
|While Mandy considers leaving, Matthew thinks of some interesting ways for her to pay him the back rent.|
|5||"Big Wednesday"||27 March 1995|
|Martin meets a hot American girl and finds out you should go prepared on a date. Meanwhile Matthew must cope with the damage Mandy has inflicted to his surfboard.|
|6||"Fame"||3 April 1995|
|Matthew becomes the lead singer of Proactive, the band upstairs and gets dragged by them out to their first gig.|
The boxing-themed Big Wednesday was originally scheduled as the first episode on 27 February 1995, but two days beforehand the real-life the boxing match between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan ended with the latter in a coma. In response, the BBC brought forward Working Girls, which had originally been scheduled as the second episode on 6 March. Subsequent episodes were screened as show, and were presumably the intended order, except that Big Wednesday was eventually shown fifth, after McClellan had emerged from the coma (he eventually made a partial recovery).
Big Wednesday being shown so late introduces a continuity error, in that it is during the episode that Mandy accidentally uses Matthew's surfboard as an ironing board, leaving it with the prominent burn visible "earlier" in Matthew, A Suitable Case for Treatment. However, the damage is not visible when the surfboard is seen in The Great Escape and Bad Timing, suggesting that those episodes should actually appear before both Big Wednesday and Matthew...
When first repeated on BBCs in early 1996, the episodes were shown in the following order:
In addition, on the VHS and DVD releases, the following order was used:
Series 2 (1996)
|7||"Roundheads & Cavaliers"||16 September 1996|
|Martin meets an Irish nurse called Claire who is a virgin and believes Martin is the man for the job. Mandy becomes celibate. And Matt thinks he's a vampire.|
|8||"Slime Surfers & Jissom Monkeys"||23 September 1996|
|Matthew admits his agoraphobia to Mandy who sets him up with psychologist Jason under the pretence he's Mandy's cousin. Meanwhile, Mandy tries to enforce her celibacy against her Italian teacher Marco who believes she is a virgin.|
|9||"Double Hard Bastards & Girly Shirt-lifting Tosspieces"||30 September 1996|
|Martin lets paranoia over Claire get to him making a real fool of himself. Matthew dispels Marco's belief that Mandy is a virgin by showing him a home made video. Jason finally gets Matt out of the flat to the park and a male gym before he finally heads to the local shop on his own...|
|10||"Heavy Bondage & Custard Creams"||7 October 1996|
|Mandy's ex-boyfriend and wanted criminal Stoat (an early appearance by Eddie Marsan) turns up at the flat and soon ties everybody up. Mandy has sex with him before tying him up and turning him over to the police. Claire dumps Martin and Jason admits to Matt he is gay and in love with him.|
|11||"Tangerine Candyfloss & Herne Bay Rock"||14 October 1996|
|Matt starts a dramatic journal that Martin and Mandy just must uncover. Martin is depressed about his breakup with Claire and Mandy starts to fall for her old teacher.|
|12||"Bruce Willis & Robert De Niro Holding A Fish"||21 October 1996|
|Martin takes up a job on a phone helpline for people suffering from depression and gives out his home number to a caller. She calls and tells Matt she is on the verge of suicide and he is forced to leave the flat to see if she is okay. He collapses once he gets there and gets rushed to hospital where Martin claims he has taken an overdose and Mandy's comedian boyfriend has been beaten up.|
Despite the official titles appearing onscreen at the start of each episode, advance artwork for the VHS releases showed alternative titles on the cover. Notably, the provisional artwork also showed the actual video release names the wrong way round, with the last three episodes titled "Second Match - Round 1" and the first three as "Second Match - Round 2".
In the first episode of series two, the substitution of Neil Stuke for Ben Chaplin was acknowledged. The trio are watching Roseanne which had previously referenced the change in actresses playing Becky by having the cast watch TV and comment on actors changing and no one noticing, then looking at Becky. In Game On, Martin asks "I wonder who's playing Becky this week?!" to which Mandy remarks: "Don't you just hate that, when they keep the same character and change the actor?" Both Mandy and Martin then look subtly yet strangely accusingly at Matt, sitting between them on the sofa, who looks worried.
Series 3 (1998)
|13||"Palms, Pigs And Bad Debts"||2 January 1998|
|Matt learns palm-reading in order to 'shag girls', although the only one he'll meet is the debt collector that's looking for Mandy. She catches Mandy at work and her new boss Archie lends her the £9,000 to pay them off.|
|14||"Martin's Baby"||9 January 1998|
|Martin finds out Claire has a baby called Rosie and that he is the father, but she doesn't want him involved until she needs a babysitter. Mandy starts to date her boss Archie, although she might just be interested in his multi-million pound inheritance.|
|15||"Marines And Vacuum Cleaner"||16 January 1998|
|Matt decides he wants to join the Marines and decks the flat out. Archie brings round his old Marine pals to chat to Matt about it but Matt has had an accident with a vacuum cleaner that Claire is still trying to remove.|
|16||"Crabs"||23 January 1998|
|Claire decides Martin would make a terrible father and Mandy passes out while trying to cook for Archie's family. Martin and Matt put on their best behaviour and knock up a meal. However, Archie's sister mistakenly believes Rosie is Mandy's and that they are just after Archie's money.|
|17||"Laura"||30 January 1998|
|Matt starts shagging the attractive woman from upstairs called Laura but he has cried wolf so many times Mandy and Martin just don't believe him. Even sharing her intimate sex secrets and producing her underwear fails to convince them. Martin has problems of his own as Claire decides to move to Australia with her new boyfriend taking Martin's daughter Rosie with them.|
|18||"Wedding Day"||6 February 1998|
|It is Mandy's wedding day to Archie who persuades Matt to come to the wedding while Martin gets a postcard from Claire saying she has married her boyfriend Shane. Martin meets a new girl, Rachel, at Mandy's hen night who is very similar to Claire (because she is also played by Tracy Keating) and immediately proceeds to buy her a nurse's outfit and wig and asks her to speak with an Irish accent. Archie dies whilst trying to fulfil his obligatory challenges set by his old Marine unit. The episode features the song The View From Here by Dubstar as Mandy walks down the stairs in her bride's dress.|
All three series of the show are available on DVD.
|DVD Title||Disc #||Year||Episode #||DVD release dates|
|Complete Series 1||1||1995||6||17 September 2001|
|Complete Series 2||1||1996||6||23 August 2004|
|Complete Series 3||1||1998||6||23 August 2004|
|Complete Series 1–3||3||1995–1998||18||23 August 2004|