Goodnight Sweetheart (TV series)
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Series title card
|Created by||Laurence Marks
|Developed by||Alomo Productions|
|Directed by||Terry Kinane
|Theme music composer||David Harsent
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||58 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Claire Hinson
|Running time||30–45 mins|
|Original channel||BBC 1|
|Original run||18 November 1993– 28 June 1999|
Goodnight Sweetheart is a British sitcom that ran for six series on BBC1 from 1993 to 1999. It stars Nicholas Lyndhurst as Gary Sparrow, an accidental time traveller who leads a double life after discovering a time portal allowing him to travel between the London of the 1990s and the same area during the Second World War.
The show was created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, also creators of Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman. The creators wrote the first series, while subsequent episodes were by a team of writers (including Marks and Gran).
Gary Sparrow is a somewhat disillusioned TV repairman, in a drab marriage with his ambitious wife Yvonne, and best friends with Ron, a printer whose marriage is on the brink of breakdown. While on a TV repair call-out in East London, Gary accidentally discovers a time portal which leads to war time London. There he meets Phoebe, a pretty barmaid who works in the Royal Oak pub, and Reg Deadman, a dim-witted but friendly policeman.
Gary strikes up a friendship with Phoebe, and makes repeated trips through the time portal, gradually establishing a second life for himself in the 1940s. In this life, he claims to be both a secret agent (aided by his knowledge of future wartime events) and a singer-songwriter, in fact passing off modern day pop songs as his own, particularly songs by The Beatles. He impresses Phoebe by bringing her goods which are widely available in the present day, but were rationed in wartime Britain, such as chocolate, bacon, and nylons and they begin a romance.
Throughout the series, Gary flits between both time periods, struggling to balance his two lives and keep Yvonne and Phoebe happy, getting tangled in webs of lies and deceit as he invents cover stories to explain away his constant absences to both. Most episodes centre on a dilemma for Gary caused by his dual life, often having to choose between letting Yvonne or Phoebe down. Ron is the only other character who knows of his double life - he helps Gary by printing 1940s five pound notes and ID documents for him - and it is to him who Gary usually turns when in a predicament, even if helping him is to Ron's detriment.
As the series progresses, the characters are developed further. Gary and Phoebe eventually marry and they have a son, Michael. Yvonne also becomes pregnant, but suffers a miscarriage. Gary opens a shop in the present day, named "Blitz and Pieces", selling goods he acquires in the 1940s as rare memorabilia. Ron and his wife Stella separate and divorce. Gary and Phoebe move to a luxury flat in Mayfair, where they befriend Noël Coward. Yvonne becomes a millionairess with a successful organic beauty products company, and a personal friend of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie. In the final episode, set on VE Day, Gary finds that the time portal has closed, trapping him in the past for good, leaving Ron to explain the truth to Yvonne.
A total of 58 episodes were made, including a Christmas special. Marks and Gran, the creators, wrote the first series; episodes thereafter were written by other writers as well as the creators themselves.
As in Marks and Gran's sitcom Get Back, most episodes of Goodnight Sweetheart — and the programme itself — were named after popular song titles. The show is named after the song Goodnight, Sweetheart, a popular song of the 1930s and 1940s, performed by Al Bowlly on the series signature tune (it had previously appeared in "The City on the Edge of Forever", a time-travel-themed episode of Star Trek). Bowlly's death, during World War II, is referred to by Gary and Phoebe during an episode. Due to a script-editing error, two different episodes (series one, episode six and series four, episode two) were both titled "In the Mood". There is no special connection between these two episodes.
|Nicholas Lyndhurst||Gary Sparrow||58||1-6||1993–99|
|Victor McGuire||Ron Wheatcroft|
|Christopher Ettridge||P.C. Reg Deadman||55||1-6 (Not in 1x02, 1x04, 2x04)|
|Elizabeth Carling||Phoebe Bamford/Sparrow||31||4-6||1997–99|
|Emma Amos||Yvonne Sparrow||30||4-6 (Not in 4x04)||1997–99|
|David Benson||Noël Coward||6||5-6||1998–99|
All six series and the 1995 Christmas Special have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2), the Christmas special was released on the third series DVD. The first five series have been released in Australia (Region 4).
|DVD Title||No. of discs||Year||No. of episodes||DVD release||DVD Interview|
|Region 2||Region 4|
|Complete Series 1||1||1993||6||4 February 2005||3 June 2009||Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran (Creators)|
|Complete Series 2||2||1995||10||26 September 2005||3 June 2009||Christopher Ettridge (Reg Deadman)|
|Complete Series 3||2||1995 & 1996||11||23 January 2006||17 September 2009||Dervla Kirwan (old Phoebe)|
|Complete Series 4||2||1997||11||22 May 2006||2 June 2011||Emma Amos (new Yvonne)|
|Complete Series 5||2||1998||10||24 July 2006||2 August 2011||David Benson (Noël Coward)|
|Complete Series 6||2||1999||10||18 September 2006||—||Elizabeth Carling (new Phoebe)|
|Complete Series 1–6||11||1993–99||58||23 October 2006||—||All of the above|
Although the main characters are fictional, some real people have been portrayed in the wartime sequences. These include "Ludo" (possibly a young Robert Maxwell), King George VI, Wilfred Pickles, Winston Churchill, Ed Murrow, Guy Burgess, George Formby, Noël Coward (played by David Benson), Celia Johnson, the Kray twins, Trevor Howard, Alfred Lennon, David Lean, Clement Attlee, Adolf Hitler and Cecil Beaton. Rolf Harris also appears as himself in a daytime dream sequence. Jack the Ripper features in one episode. Vera Lynn is also mentioned in the episode "When Two Worlds Collide" when Phoebe hears modern music, while John Lennon is mentioned as a local boy who can write better songs than Gary's modern compositions when he and Phoebe visit Liverpool in the episode "The Leaving of Liverpool". Also, The Beatles are mentioned numerous times throughout the show as Gary is a fan and during the wartime sequences, Gary plays many of their songs on the pub piano, whilst claiming to have written them.
There is talk of Goodnight Sweetheart being brought back and/or being made into a musical in 2014. The shows writers and producers have stated they have received thousands of emails and letters regarding the show wishing for its return to the small screen. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have both stated that while there are no plans to bring the series back it might possibly come back if the planned musical is a made and is a success.
- Masters, Tim. "BBC News - Goodnight Sweetheart: Musical future for time travel show?". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- "BBC - Comedy Guide - Goodnight Sweetheart". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2004-12-05. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- "Winners - The National Television Awards". Nationaltvawards.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- Masters, Tim (2013-11-17). "BBC News - Goodnight Sweetheart: Musical future for time travel show?". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-03-12.
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