George and Mildred

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George and Mildred
Georgeandmildred1977al.jpg
George and Mildred title screen
Format Sitcom
Created by Brian Cooke
Johnnie Mortimer
Starring Yootha Joyce
Brian Murphy
Norman Eshley
Sheila Fearn
Nicholas Bond-Owen
Roy Kinnear
Avril Elgar
Gretchen Franklin
Simon Lloyd
Reginald Marsh
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 38
Production
Running time 30 minutes
(including adverts)
Distributor Fremantle Media
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3
Original run 6 September 1976 (1976-09-06) – 25 December 1979 (1979-12-25)
Chronology
Preceded by Man About the House
Related shows Robin's Nest
The Ropers

George and Mildred was a British sitcom produced by Thames Television that aired from 1976 to 1979. It was a spin-off from Man About the House and starred Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce as an ill-matched married couple, George and Mildred Roper. The premise of the series had George and Mildred leaving their flat as depicted in Man About the House and moving to a modern, upmarket housing estate. Their arrival horrifies their snobbish neighbour Jeffrey Fourmile, an estate agent who despairs that the Ropers' presence will devalue his home.

It was written by Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer. Like many sitcoms of the day, George and Mildred was also turned into a film, which was dedicated to actress Yootha Joyce who died suddenly in 1980, just as the cast had been looking forward to recording a sixth series.

Cast[edit]

Plot[edit]

George and Mildred Roper have left their old house after receiving a compulsory purchase order from the Council and move to 46 Peacock Crescent in Hampton Wick. While Mildred enjoys the chance to better herself in her new surroundings, she is always being thwarted - usually by the lazy, and generally unemployed George, who has no interest in climbing the social ladder, and also continues to show a lack of interest in sexual relations with Mildred.

George and Mildred's next-door neighbours are Jeffrey Fourmile, a snobbish estate agent, and his wife Ann. Ann and Mildred become good friends, but Jeffrey is frequently irritated by George, with their spats providing much of the show's humour. The Fourmiles have a young son, Tristram, who gets on well with George, much to the chagrin of Jeffrey (particularly because Jeffrey supports the Conservative Party, while George puts socialist ideas into Tristram's head). In series three Ann gives birth to a second child, Tarquin.

Mildred's snobbish sister Ethel and her wealthy husband Humphrey occasionally visit, as does Mildred's mother. Mildred often makes subtle and unsubtle digs at Ethel's age, or social status and pretensions, when Ethel visits. George's friend Jerry, a jack-of-all-trades, also visits, much to Mildred's annoyance. Jerry is fond of referring to Mildred as "Mildew".

In the first series, George buys Mildred a Yorkshire Terrier called Truffles (played by dog actor Pussy Galore) after the Ropers are unable to adopt a child.

Episodes[edit]

Series One (1976, 10 episodes)[edit]

# Title Airdate
1 "Moving on" 6 September 1976
Having to move, George and Mildred view a property in Hampton Wick on "a small rather exclusive development". They are shown around by the snobbish estate agent Jeffrey Fourmile, who could also be their new neighbour, if Mildred has her way. (Fourmile himself denies he is a snob - "I am not a snob.", he tells his wife Ann. "You ask anyone. Well, anyone who matters.".) When George and Mildred go to see the house a second time, they discover it has been sold. But has it? (The series opens with Mildred singing "Underneath the Arches", a Music hall hit for Flanagan and Allen. The song refers the hearer back to a different era in British life. George enunciates this strain of looking backwards clearly in this first episode, describing World War II as a time when "you had the Duke and the dustman standing side by side.". That was the war that was supposed to end class prejudice, and have our lot take over.".)
2 "The Bad Penny" 13 September 1976
George and Mildred move into their new home. They're invited for a welcoming drink by the Fourmiles, but not wanted still to be around by the time, the Fourmiles' dinner guests arrive - the local Conservative M.P (played by Diana King), and her husband.
3 "And Women Must Weep" 20 September 1976
George applies for a position as a filing clerk in an estate agency - Jeffrey Fourmile's estate agency. And Fourmile was thinking of a woman for the post.
4 "Baby Talk" 27 September 1976
Mildred is asked to babysit Tristram. The middle class Fourmiles are going out to see Tom Stoppard's Jumpers. "I hope you like them.", says Mildred considerately. Mildred enjoys babysitting - she wonders if she and George might try and adopt a child themselves. Anthony Sharp appears in this episode, and Truffles, the Ropers' Yorkshire terrier, for the first time.
5 "Your Money or Your Life?" 4 October 1976
Mildred wants George to get life insurance, and wants to know, for example, how much an average, run-of-the-mill funeral will cost. "Is it for a loved one?" "No, it's for my husband.", Mildred tells the funeral director. But George is not too happy when he realizes he's worth more dead than alive. Michael Ripper, Stella Moray, and Arthur Howard appear in this episode.
6 "Where My Caravan Has Rested" 11 October 1976
George trades in his broken down car, a Reliant Regal, for a broken down caravan - and the Residents Association are keen to get rid of the eyesore. Mildred's sister Ethel and her husband Humphrey visit from Oxshott. They've had electronic gates fitted for their drive that open to the sound of Ethel's voice. "Haven't seen 'em shut yet.", Humphrey says. (Mildred shows off her Lava lamp in this episode - a very popular item of home decoration in mid to late '70s Britain.) Fourmile meanwhile, runs out of patience and sends the caravan to the scrapyard to be crushed, not knowing that George is still sleeping in it having been thrown out the house by Mildred the night before.
7 "The Little Dog Laughed" 18 October 1976
George is not too happy about Truffles seeming to get better treatment than he does from Mildred. And then, having taken Truffles to the pub with him, and left her outside, she wanders off. Meanwhile, Tristram wants a dog too, - not a toy one. Paul Angelis appears in this episode.
8 "Best Foot Forward" 25 October 1976
George and Mildred visit the posh local pub The Genevieve. "I want to create a good impression George, so stay in the background.", Mildred tells him. When the Ropers' television goes wrong, George takes Fourmile's ladder to climb up to the aerial to fix it. Fourmile takes the ladder away, George falls off the roof, sprains his wrist and breaks his leg. In hospital, a fellow patient (played by Kenneth Watson), tells George he can sue Fourmile. (In a wheelchair after his accident, George is called Ironside by Mildred, a reference to the wheelchair bound detective played by Raymond Burr in the American TV series.).
9 "My Husband Next Door" 1 November 1976
Inspired by her reading of Ideal Home magazine, - "the dentist left it in his waiting room for me.", she tells George. And a posh Knightsbridge flat done over by David Nightingale Hicks, Mildred wants George to decorate the lounge. But George just wants to watch Wacky Races and World of Sport. Meanwhile, the Fourmiles are going to Scotland on holiday for the week and ask Mildred to water their plants while they are away. So, when the Ropers TV goes on the blink George is relieved to think he can still watch the Fourmiles colour TV but then, there's a mix up involving the decorators (John Lyons and Raymond Farrell), that Mildred has had to call in, because George could not be bothered.
10 "Family Planning" 8 November 1976
Ethel arrives in her "new bottle green automatic Jaguar XJ6", to have a chat with Mildred about their mother. She's getting on - too old to be left on her own. George does not see the problem; "She's got her own home in Dagenham; if it's good enough for the Girl Pipers it's good enough for her.". And Ethel and Humphrey want their spare room for, "a billiard room and sauna bath.". A family conference is called to decide the issue of who should look after her. And Tristram gets a black eye from a girl at school - so Jeffrey teaches him boxing.

Series Two (1977, 7 ep.)[edit]

The title sequence for series two features Mildred worriedly getting into a motorcycle sidecar. George puts on his goggles and pulls away, but the sidecar, with Mildred sitting in it, is left at the kerb. The motorcycle, a 1933 Brough Superior was also in Dad's Army. (Chased by a runaway wheel packed with explosives, Captain Mainwaring, Pike, and Hodges commandeer the bike from a man trimming a hedge.). The motorcycle is now at the London Motorcycle Museum.

# Title Airdate
1 "Jumble Pie" 14 November 1977
George feels bereaved because, Oscar, his budgerigar, dies. And there's a jumble sale at the church so Revd. Stopes (Trevor Baxter), calls to collect items for sale. Amongst other things, Mildred donates George's old gardening magazines - he never does any gardening! - but George is worried. "They weren't all gardening magazines.", he tells Mildred. "Just the top layer. The other hundred or so were....sort of art books."
2 "All Around the Clock" 21 November 1977
Mildred brings George his tea and Sunday paper, the News of the World, in bed. It's their 24th wedding anniversary and Mildred gives George a pipe and tobacco. George has got her a carriage clock. "And it was a bargain! - only ten pounds.", he tells her. Meanwhile Jeffrey, Anne and Tristram get back from a golfing holiday to find they have been burgled. Robert Gillespie and Richard Coleman also appear in this episode.
3 "The Travelling Man" 28 November 1977
George thinks he and Mildred could improve their finances by taking in lodgers. Mildred is opposed to the idea but changes her mind when Mr. Rogers (Derek Waring), a charming sales rep, knocks at their door looking for a room. Meanwhile, Tristram wants a skateboard; - because it's the latest 'fad', his father says dismissively. Harry Littlewood appears in this episode.
4 "The Unkindest Cut of All" 5 December 1977
Mildred's sister Ethel and her husband are coming to dinner, so Mildred wants to cook something special - poulet rôti. ("That looks finger lickin' 'orrible.", says George unkindly, a subversion of the famous KFC slogan.). But then, since George has not been paying the electricity bills when they fell due, the Ropers power supply is to be cut off, which will make Mildred's preparations for the evening very difficult. Norman Mitchell appears in this episode.
5 "The Right Way to Travel" 12 December 1977
Mildred wants to go to Majorca on holiday for "a bit of glamour and excitement, the sun caressing me on the beach". George wants to go back to Blackpool. Anyway, "we don't speak a word of Majorcan.", he points out to Mildred. And what's worse for George, - Mildred wants them to travel with the Conservative Association to get a 40% discount. George, a supporter of the Labour Party isn't happy with that idea either.
6 "The Dorothy Letters" 19 December 1977
Mildred is having a spring clean and wants to throw out George's old teddy boy outfit for a start. Looking through the contents of an old case they find his old gas mask, an old Dick Barton Annual, and some of George's old records which include discs by Gene Krupa ("I used to like her.", says George.), and by The Stargazers. And then, Mildred finds some letters addressed to Dorothy - but who is Dorothy?, wonders Mildred. She takes George off for some relationship counseling. Meanwhile, since the world is over-populated, Jeffrey Fourmile considers having a vasectomy. (James Cosmo appears in this episode.)
7 "No Business Like Show Business" 26 December 1977
Jeffrey Fourmile is producing, and directing, the Hampton Wick Players Christmas pantomime, Cinderella. A problem arises however, which leaves the production short of a second ugly sister. Mildred, who has been eager to take part, is offered the role, and accepts. Ethel and Humphrey arrive for the evening of the performance, but by then, Mildred has fallen ill and lost her voice. "You've really let them down you have - still, try not to think about it.", counsels George. (Roy Barraclough, playing an ugly sister, Sue Bond, and Derek Deadman also appear in this episode.)

Series Three (1978, 6 ep.)[edit]

# Title Airdate
1 "Opportunity Knocks" 31 August 1978
After Jerry tells him about his latest scheme, George thinks it would be a good idea to sell the house to raise the capital to back it; Anne Fourmile meanwhile is heavily pregnant. (Patricia Kneale and Robert Raglan appear in this episode.)
2 "And so to Bed" 7 September 1978
After George breaks their old bed Mildred is determined they should buy a new one, but George is on a Hire purchase blacklist. Can his horse race predictions save the day, and his accumulator provide the necessary cash? (Jimmy Thompson, John Lyons and Harry Littlewood appear in this episode.)
3 "I Believe in Yesterday" 14 September 1978
An old American GI boyfriend of Mildred wants to stage a reunion. (Lionel Murton, George Malpas and Claire Davenport appear in this episode.)
4 "The Four Letter Word" 21 September 1978
Mildred's brother-in-law offers the notoriously work shy George a job, but after learning that Humphrey is planning a weekend away with his secretary Maggie (Jennifer Guy), George manages to wangle a way out of it.
5 "The Delivery Man" 28 September 1978
Anne goes into labour whilst Jeffrey is away at work in Birmingham so, it is up to George to get her to the hospital in time (in his motorbike and sidecar of course). (Gail Lidstone, Cass Allen, Michael Redfern and Paul Meier appear in this episode.)
6 "Life with Father" 5 October 1978
George's father turns up on the doorstep after getting thrown out of his old folks' home. (Reg Lye, Beatrix Mackey, Tim Barrett and Tom Hardy appear in this episode.)

Series Four (1978, 7 ep.)[edit]

# Title Airdate
1 "Just the Job" 9 November 1978
George is called to a job interview - the position vacant is that of traffic warden. George has no love for the "little Hitlers" as he sees them, but perhaps, he will find his niche in life? Meanwhile, George (reluctantly) and Mildred (happily) agree to attend Tristram's School Prize Giving.
2 "Days of Beer and Rosie" 16 November 1978
Has George got a son, conceived on Victory in Europe night? This episode looks back to the year 1945, and refers back, via George's reminiscences, and impressions, to Tommy Handley, ITMA and William Joyce ('Lord Haw Haw'). (The actor Tony Melody appears in this episode.)
3 "You Must Have Showers!" 23 November 1978
Mildred wants a smart new shower, but George insists they cannot afford the prices being asked, so calls in Jerry, (Roy Kinnear), to install a jerry-built one.
4 "All Work and No Pay" 30 November 1978
George resigns from his job as a traffic warden. But finds it very hard to tell Mildred. He passes time chatting with Jerry; "You keepin' busy?", he asks Jerry. '"You know how it is... my reputation's spreading." "Oh, you're not then?!", says George. (In one of the conversations that George has with Jerry in this episode, Jerry says, he "got a months jankers for that.", a piece of British Armed Services slang. It illustrates the fact that George and Jerry are part of a generation that knew National Service, the system of peacetime conscription in Britain, 1948-1960.) (Blake Butler appears in this episode.)
5 "Nappy Days" 7 December 1978
Ann and Jeffrey Fourmile have to attend a funeral and ask George and Mildred to look after baby Tarquin for the day. This is fine until George is left alone in sole charge of the baby, the Fourmiles are late getting back from the funeral, and George wants to go to a darts match at the British Legion. (Norman Mitchell appears in this episode.)
6 "The Mating Game" 14 December 1978
Mildred wants Truffles, George and Mildred's Yorkshire terrier, to have puppies. George is happy with that, since he thinks there might be money in it. They decide to try and pair Truffles with Mildreds sister Ethel's Yorkie, Pomeroy. But Ethel, (Avril Elgar), isn't sure; "I don't think Pomeroy has ever seen a bitch. I keep him with me all the time.".
7 "On the Second Day of Christmas" 21 December 1978
George and Mildred reflect on their uneventful Christmas - even Mildred's mother, (Gretchen Franklin), has a more exciting time. Ann invites them over for a post-Christmas drink and George loses a stack of money to Jeffrey playing a video game. And then Ethel and Humphrey arrive.

Series Five (1979, 8 ep.)[edit]

# Title Airdate
1 "Finders Keepers?" 24 October 1979
George finds a credit card and Mildred suspects he has used it to buy her a fur coat from Oxfam as an anniversary present. Tristram meanwhile, has made friends with a boy from the local council estate which displeases his father. "Is it snobbish to think their sort should have a separate playground?" (Trevor Baxter, Roy Herrick, Ivor Roberts and Hal Dyer appear in this episode.)
2 "In Sickness and in Health" 30 October 1979
When Mildred goes into hospital for suspected appendicitis, George finds Jerry - accompanied by his 'niece' Gloria, (Sue Bond) - invites himself to stay for a few days. (Nina Baden-Semper, Aimée Delamain, and Royston Tickner appear in this episode.)
3 "The Last Straw" 6 November 1979
Mildred is disenchanted by her failure to be included in the social side of life on her middle class estate. She and George return to George's old neighbourhood, with an eye to moving back, and visit his old neighbours (Queenie Watts and Michael Robbins), but they find the terraced streets are gone, replaced by tower blocks. But back in Hampton Wick, Mildred's spirits rise when she gets invited to join a local committee.
4 "A Driving Ambition" 13 November 1979
When George discovers that Mildred has not been attending keep-fit classes as she told him she had, he begins to wonder what has she been doing? Is she perhaps, having an affair? (Robert Raglan and Harry Fowler appear in this episode.)
5 "A Military Pickle" 27 November 1979
George's brother Charlie (Peter Birrel), turns up, and brings a letter for G. Roper that arrived in 1949, just after George had left home. It turns out the letter contains call-up papers. It seems Mildred is married to an Army deserter. (David Neville, Michael Maynard, Richard Shaw, and Harry Littlewood appear in this episode.)
6 "Fishy Business" 4 December 1979
Mildred accidentally flushes George's pet goldfish, Moby, down the drain; - but maybe homing pigeons can fill the gap left in George's life. (Norman Mitchell and Ted Burnett appear in this episode.)
7 "I Gotta Horse!" 18 December 1979
Mildred's mother (Gretchen Franklin), reveals to Mildreds sister Ethel that Mildred may be in possession of a valuable antique, - (Ming Dynasty)! - horse. One just like it pictured in Country Life magazine is valued at £10,000. The news leaves Ethel desperate to get her hands on the antique. (John Carlin and Mimi De Braie appear in this episode.)
8 "The Twenty-Six Year Itch" 25 December 1979
Guest appearance of Patsy Rowlands as a barmaid who George takes a shine to while Mildred attends The Young Conservatives Christmas Dinner, and Dance with Mr Fourmile after Ann insists on visiting her mother.

Props[edit]

George Roper's Brough motorcycle combination shown to regular comic effect in the opening titles of series 2, 3 and 5 is now exhibited at the London Motorcycle Museum.

Stage show[edit]

During 1977, Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce, joined at one stage by Reginald Marsh, toured in a successful stage version of the programme. In 1976 & 1977, Murphy and Joyce appeared as the ugly sisters, Georgina and Mildred, in the London Palladium pantomime, Cinderella.

Film version[edit]

Following the fifth TV series a feature film version of the series was produced. The film was written not by Cooke and Mortimer but by Dick Sharples. The Fourmiles only played a small role in the film. The film focused on the original title characters celebrating their wedding anniversary, at Mildred's insistence, at a swanky London hotel, and featured several guest stars including Stratford Johns, Kenneth Cope and the up-and-coming Vicki Michelle. The film was neither a critical nor box office success.[1]

The Abrupt End[edit]

The final caption of the George and Mildred film read 'The End - or is it the beginning?' It was to prove the abrupt end: Yootha Joyce died from chronic alcoholism on 24 August 1980, before the film was even released. Her friends and colleagues were astonished to discover that she had been drinking a litre of brandy every day. People were unaware of this consumption as it never affected her performance or professionalism.

In 2004, on an audio commentary on the Australian Umbrella DVD release of George and Mildred: the Complete Series 2, Brian Murphy revealed that there had been plans for a sixth series of eight episodes of the show. These were to have been recorded in late 1980. Murphy also revealed that this was due to have been the final series of George and Mildred, as he and Yootha Joyce wished to focus on other work. However, despite scripts being written, Joyce's hospitalisation and death put an enforced end to the show. Her funeral took place on the very day the cast were due to begin rehearsals for the new series. Speaking of their relationship in a 2001 ITV programme, The Unforgettable Yootha Joyce, Murphy said that when they had first met at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop he had, "always regarded Yootha as very stylish and very confident. I was rather over-awed by her at first, full of admiration for her. "At her death, "People said, 'You've lost a working partner' and I said, 'No, I've lost a chum'... and then I realised I've lost my working partnership as well...".

Thames Television did talk of producing a spin-off for the character of George, looking at him cope with life as a widower. However, this project did not materialise. But Brian Murphy did reunite with George and Mildred co-star Roy Kinnear and writers Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke for The Incredible Mr. Tanner, a comedy produced for Thames soon after Yootha Joyce's death. 21

Adaptations[edit]

George and Mildred was adapted in the United States as The Ropers, a spin-off of Three's Company, the US version of Man About the House. Yootha Joyce and Brian Murphy appeared, in character as George and Mildred, on the magic show The David Nixon Show.

Book[edit]

"Man About the House - George and Mildred: The Definitive Companion" by Tex Fisher was published on 1 July 2010. The book includes contributions from many of the original cast, including Brian Murphy, Paula Wilcox, Sally Thomsett and Nicholas Bond-Owen. It explains the background and history of both programmes, together with an episode and film guide, full cast biographies, details of the stage play, full catalogue of support cast, and a 1970s Phrase Dictionary. ISBN 978-0-9565634-0-8. The book is published by Deck Chair Publishing.[2]

DVD releases[edit]

The first DVD release of George and Mildred was from Clear Vision in the UK in 2001 (and simultaneously appeared on VHS). Although, the top of the sleeve says "Series One", the bottom says "episodes 1 to 6", so the remaining four episodes do not appear. Complaints about picture quality of this and the accompanying Man About the House release, and minor edits of the ad break captions, etc. probably went some way to explaining why no more Clear Vision releases materialised.

In Australia, the first series was released in May 2003. Unlike the Clear Vision release of series one, all 10 episodes were included, as were the original ad captions and the Thames TV idents (the music for this is called "Salute to Thames") at the start and original end boards. Many fans from the UK imported these versions instead, not only due to their superiority, but the favourable exchange rates made them no more expensive than the Clear Vision title. Series 2 followed in March 2004 and the movie that same November. Unlike the UK Network release of series 2, the Australian version contained some audio commentaries with series star Brian Murphy.

Contract and clearance re-negotiations for all worldwide regions put a halt to Umbrella's plans to proceed with the remaining episodes, and while the shows have been cleared for UK release (as evidenced by the Network releases), Fremantle Media still have not, as of 2007, worked out clearances for the Australian/New Zealand regions yet, so Umbrella's hands are still tied. On Wednesday, 16 July 2008, Series 3 was finally released in Australia, followed by Series 4 on 3 September 2008 and Series 5 on 3 December 2008, Soon after the release of Series 5, Series 3, 4 and 5 were discontinued, at this stage Series 1 and 2 were also out of production but remaining copies were continuing to be sold. In April 2009, Fremantle Media re-released the first three seasons with the same cover art as of the UK releases (Season 1 now being a 2 Disc set as the original version all 10 episodes were on one disc), Season 4 was re-released on 5 November 2009 and Season 5 re-release on 3 December 2009, although some delays occurred. Fremantle re-released Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 on 3 March 2011 and has new artwork. Fremantle Media have announced the re-release of Series 4 and Series 5 for 1 September 2011.[3][4][5][6][7]

The entire first series of George and Mildred was released by Network DVD in Region 2 (UK) in 2005 without the annoying edits or the over-compressed picture quality. The second, third and fourth series were released in 2006. The fifth and final series was released in 2007. The movie has been available in the UK for many years on both video and DVD, both individually and bundled as special double- and triple-bills with other "small screen to big screen" efforts. The complete box set with all 5 seasons has been released in the UK.

A book dedicated to the Situation Comedy, entitled The Man About the House and George & Mildred Companion is due to be published in 2010.

Recent broadcasts[edit]

The show is now shown regularly on Comedy Central Extra in the United Kingdom complete with Thames Television ident. In Spain, it is shown on Cuatro and in Canada, it is shown on Country Canada. In Australia, some episodes were shown on the Seven Network and occasionally on Pay-TV channel, UKTV. Currently, it is shown weeknights on 7Two. It has also been shown in Cuba. UK Gold also repeated the show from 1993-1998, it did return on the UK Gold Classics channel in October 1998, although the channel was only available on Sky Digital and closed after 6 months on air in March 1999.Granada Plus used to repeat the show until the close in 2004. From April 2010, it is also being shown weekdays on ITV3.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]