List of One Foot in the Grave episodes

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This is a list of episodes of the British sitcom One Foot in the Grave, written by David Renwick. The show ran for six series of six episodes each. There were also nine specials including two shorts for Comic Relief, first screened from 4 January 1990 to 20 November 2000 on BBC 1 and subsequently repeated both on the BBC and thereafter on satellite channels such as Gold.[1] Some of the early episodes were made in 1989.

The series features the exploits of Victor Meldrew, played by Richard Wilson, and his wife, Margaret Meldrew, played by Annette Crosbie, in their battle against the trials of modern life.[2] Most episodes were 30 minutes long, though some were several minutes longer. Christmas editions and other specials were generally longer. Richard Wilson appears in all episodes, and Annette Crosbie in all except "The Trial". The character Jean Warboys, played by Doreen Mantle, appeared in 18 out of 42 episodes, with Nick Swainey, played by Owen Brenman, appearing in 15 episodes, and Patrick and Pippa Trench played by Angus Deayton and Janine Duvitski in 14. Ronnie (Gordon Peters) and Mildred (Barbara Ashcroft) appear in three episodes, though their first appearance is extremely brief.

There were also two short specials (under ten minutes in length) for Comic Relief, one of which featured Richard Wilson (Victor Meldrew) alone, though it included at one point the voice of Paul Merton.The Comic Relief special in 2001 was set after Victor's death. Though Richard Wilson appeared, Margaret did not interact with Victor's ghost, being unaware of his presence, although she briefly complains about "cold air" beside her.

Series overview[edit]

All six series and specials were initially available on BBC Worldwide VHS video tapes. The Comic Relief Shorts from 1993 and 2001 have not been released on DVD. One Foot in the Grave Best-of was also released in Region 4, 8 July 2004.

DVD Title Discs Year Ep. No, DVD releases Notes
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Complete Series 1 1 1990 6 27 March 2007 2 August 2004 7 July 2005 Includes Britain's Best Sitcom feature.
Complete Series 2 2 1990 7 27 March 2007 9 May 2005 4 May 2006 Includes the 1990 Christmas special
Complete Series 3 2 1992 7 11 March 2008 8 August 2005 17 August 2006 Includes the 1991 Christmas special
Complete Series 4 2 1993 7 11 March 2008 24 April 2006 7 March 2007 Includes the 1993 Christmas special
Complete Series 5 2 1994/1995 7 10 February 2009 21 August 2006 1 August 2007 Includes the 1994 & 1995 Christmas special
Complete Series 6 2 2000 6 10 February 2009 16 October 2006 3 October 2007 Includes the 2000 documentary "I Don't Believe It: The Story of One Foot in the Grave"
Complete Series 1-6 12 1990-2000 42 8 September 2009 16 October 2006/slim version 4 October 2010 6 March 2008 A 12-disc box set that includes the Christmas specials
Christmas Specials 1 1996/1997 2 8 September 2009 13 November 2006 6 November 2008 The 1996 and 1997 Christmas specials

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (1990)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
1
Alive and Buried
4 January 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
9.28 million.
At the age of 60, Victor Meldrew is retired from his job as a security guard to be replaced by a box and a recorded message. As he contemplates his future, he gets a visit from Nick Swainey's charity for the elderly and decides to go for a job interview.

NOTE: First appearances of Victor Meldrew, Margaret Meldrew, Mrs Warboys and Nick Swainey.

2
The Big Sleep
11 January 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
7.25 million.
Victor's cousin Geoffrey, who had also just taken early retirement at the age of 60, dies. The Meldrews attend his atheist funeral and receive a visit from what Victor calls "the Jehovah's Witness police". Victor looks after a small bird that regularly perches in his garden. As fog descends on suburbia, Victor wakes up thinking he's dead.
3
The Valley of Fear
18 January 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
9.2 million.
While photographing a sunset, Victor is mugged and graffiti is sprayed on the Meldrews' house, so he decides to head a Neighbourhood Watch meeting. Meanwhile: there's a strange smell by the sideboard, a problem with the central heating, an old woman in the loft, and a cat in the freezer.
4
I'll Retire to Bedlam
25 January 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
8.92 million.
Victor is trapped in his shed for 3 hours thanks to a swarm of belligerent bees, stuck in the optician's for a day with his eyes shut, then stuck babysitting some unpleasant children.
5
The Eternal Quadrangle
1 February 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
9.5 million.
Margaret is pleased when Victor takes up painting—until she discovers that he has been painting a nude model, Doreen, and driving her home afterwards.
6
The Return of the Speckled Band
8 February 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
8.98 million.
Before the Meldrews can leave for their holiday in Athens, they must cope with Victor's fear of flying, Mrs Warboys' food poisoning, having their electricity meter read, and an escaped snake (which they are completely unaware is in their house).

NOTE: Victor's famous catchphrase "I don't believe it!" is introduced in this episode.

Series 2 (1990)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
7
In Luton Airport, No One Can Hear You Scream
4 October 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
8.86 million.
The Meldrews return from their holiday to find that their baggage has been sent to the other side of the world. Their house has also been demolished following a terrible fire but somebody has still managed to aim free-sample packets of HP Spicy Sauce through the letterbox. 6 months later they move into a new house and try to hold a housewarming party.

NOTE: Nick Swainey (and his unseen mother) become the Meldrews' next door neighbours with this episode.

8
We Have Put Her Living in the Tomb
11 October 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
8.1 million.
While beginning to organise their new house, the Meldrews are entrusted to look after Margaret's goddaughter's tortoise, who might be in danger when Victor decides to burn some garden rubbish. Meanwhile, someone has been using TCP in the Meldrews' new house, so their wallpaper has to be stripped.
9
Dramatic Fever
18 October 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
10.2 million.
Victor writes a script for a new situation comedy, but nobody else finds it very funny. Margaret also catches dramatic fever: she joins an amateur dramatic society and gets invited to local thespian Desiree Gibson's Bergerac party. Meanwhile, Victor feuds with a litterbug.
10
Who Will Buy?
25 October 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
10.66 million.
Victor and Margaret get worried when a couple named Patrick and Pippa seemingly come to stay as they have no idea who they are. Also: Victor has problems with a toy dinosaur salesman; and Margaret befriends Albert, a lonely elderly blind man (Jimmy Jewel); however, an act of kindness has terrible consequences. A charity concert gives Victor the chance to share his ventriloquist skills, only to realise his act is part of a rock and death metal variety concert.

NOTE: First appearances of Patrick and Pippa

11
Love and Death
8 November 1990
Susan Belbin and Sydney Lotterby
30 minutes.
10.24 million.
The Meldrews are on holiday, staying with old friends Vince (Stephen Lewis) and April (Georgina Hale) in their boarding house on the south coast. During the weekend a set of unfortunate coincidences leave each member of the couple thinking the other is being unfaithful, and Victor ends up with a glass of beer super-glued to his head.
12
Timeless Time
15 November 1990
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
10.7 million.
Victor is unable to sleep, so Margaret cannot either. Victor gets desperate enough to open last year's Christmas present from Ronnie and Mildred. This episode is set entirely in the Meldrews' bedroom.

NOTE: During the course of this episode, Victor and Margaret make the show's only reference to 'Stuart', during which the episode takes on a more sombre tone. Although it is never established who Stuart is, he is implied to be the Meldrews son who died as a child.
This is the first episode to take place entirely in real time, with each following series containing an episode that does the same.

Christmas Special (1990)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
13
Who's Listening?
27 December 1990
Susan Belbin
60 minutes.
10 million.
Victor's wrong-number entry in a catalogue's order column results in the accidental delivery of 263 3-foot-tall garden gnomes. The Meldrews become acquainted with a vicar who thinks he has lost his faith, and Victor learns more about a video-store worker with whom he had a conflict.

Christmas Special (1991)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
14
The Man in the Long Black Coat
30 December 1991
Susan Belbin
55 minutes.
10.84 million.
As Victor's feud with Patrick—now an expectant father—continues, they communicate via post-it notes. Victor learns that the horse manure he bought for his allotment is radioactive. Pregnant Pippa attends an office party. Guest appearance by Eric Idle.

Series 3 (1992)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
15
Monday Morning Will Be Fine
2 February 1992
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
14.75 million.
Victor and Margaret return from a shopping trip to discover that the house has been burgled—and the neighbours helped. Victor decides not to replace the television to give them more opportunity to get out of the house. However, an evening trip to the pub results in a disconcerting experience with an old friend.
16
Dreamland
9 February 1992
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
14.5 million.
In a coffee shop, Mrs. Warboys tells the story of how Margaret went missing following a series of haunting dreams in which she murders someone who looks exactly like Victor. Mr. Swainey evades Victor's attempts to nail the fence closed and invites the Meldrews round to see his pigeons.
17
The Broken Reflection
16 February 1992
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
14.5 million.
Patrick and Pippa fear the worst when they ask Victor and Margaret to look after their house while they're on holiday. They're right to worry, because Victor's absent-minded brother Alfred is visiting, so Victor's nerves are on edge more than usual.
18
The Beast in the Cage
23 February 1992
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
15.6 million.
A day out turns into a nightmare for the Meldrews and Mrs. Warboys when the Bank Holiday traffic comes to a standstill on the motorway and they spend 4 hours trapped in their car staring at a horse's backside. Attempting to lighten the mood with some music, Victor makes an unpleasant discovery about his car mechanics. This summer-set episode was actually filmed in winter near Luton—when, ironically, real cars were driving past the Meldrews' when filming.[3] This episode is real time and is entirely set in the Meldrews' car on the motorway.
19
Beware the Trickster on the Roof
1 March 1992
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
16.16 million.
Mr. Swainey returns from holiday with an evil gift in the form of a paperweight. The thieves who burgled the Meldrews' house ring up asking for help in programming their video recorder. Patrick and Pippa attempt to sell their house, but prospective buyers are put off when they encounter Victor.
20
The Worst Horror of All
8 March 1992
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
16.2 million.
Victor is delighted when he finally gets a decent job as the doorman at an expensive hotel—until he is insulted by a rich snob in an obvious toupee and can't resist firing back. Meanwhile, Mrs. Warboys organises a trip to the BBC, and the Meldrews try to fend off a visit from Ronnie and Mildred.

NOTE: First appearances of Cousin Wilfred and Ronnie and Mildred.

Series 4 (1993)[edit]

# Title Original airdate Director Duration Viewers
21
The Pit and the Pendulum
31 January 1993
Susan Belbin
30 minutes
17.3 million
Victor decides that Patrick's cherry tree is the cause of his garden being dry and enlists a Neanderthal gardener to cultivate the stray roots. An argument with the gardener then alerts him to an alternate use for the pit. Meanwhile: Patrick adopts a dachshund puppy, and Margaret is stunned by tragic news.
22
Descent into the Maelstrom
7 February 1993
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
16.67 million.
Margaret collapses from nervous exhaustion, which has been building up for the past 35 years. After a few days under Victor's "care," she decides that going to work would be more restful. Mrs. Warboys visits, bringing Andrea Temple (Helen Lederer), whom Margaret knew as a girl, and Andrea's baby, who has a mysterious fondness for garden gnomes. Victor uncovers the disturbing truth about her, but decides not to tell Margaret.
23
Hearts of Darkness
14 February 1993
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
17.48 million.
The Meldrews, Mrs. Warboys, and Mr. Swainey take a trip into the countryside, where they end up stranded in a river and play Trivial Pursuit, Mrs. Warboys ends up concreted to Victor. While going for help, Victor stumbles upon an old people's home where the staff are abusing the residents; he hatches a plot to liberate them.

NOTE: This episode was edited after broadcast due to complaints over the elderly abuse scene. The song "Out of Town" by Max Bygraves is featured.

24
Warm Champagne
21 February 1993
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
17 million.
The Meldrews have returned from another "holiday." Victor already has sunburnt feet, and at home he finds a lamppost light through their bedroom window. Margaret's annoyance at his incessant grumbling lures her into considering an affair with Ben, a holiday acquaintance. She meets him for drinks...and returns home to find another woman in her bed, to her surprise as much as Victor's.
25
The Trial
28 February 1993
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
18.39 million.
While on call for jury service, Victor spends a whole day home alone. He receives a letter from a disgruntled Jehovah's Witness, tackles a difficult crossword, struggles to save himself from an account of Mrs Warboys' holiday in Cork, and contemplates his various ailments.

NOTE: Richard Wilson is the only actor to appear in this episode. As a result, this marks Annette Crosbie's only non-appearance in the series.

26
Secret of the Seven Sorcerers
7 March 1993
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
17.99 million.
The Meldrews invite Patrick and Pippa round for a friendly meal, but Patrick is distinctly worried about what horrors might befall them. Meanwhile, Victor has a new job as a lollipop man, and hoax calls from the fire brigade slow down his preparations for hosting the next meeting of his magicians' club.

Comic Relief Special (1993)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Duration
Victor in the Bath
12 March 1993
8 minutes.
Victor muses about life while in the bath.

Christmas Special (1993)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
27
One Foot in the Algarve
26 December 1993
Susan Belbin
90 minutes.
20.01 million.
The Meldrews and Mrs. Warboys embark upon a hellish holiday to Portugal. After an entanglement with the police, they finally arrive at their unpleasant villa. Mrs Warboys finds love with her Portuguese penpal Afonso (Edward de Souza), Victor gets followed around by donkeys, a paparazzo (Peter Cook) pursues the group in an attempt to get back some lucrative snaps and a boxer (Eamonn Walker) tries to find his inner anger... something which becomes much easier thanks to Victor's misadventures.

Series 5 (1994 - 1995)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
28
The Man Who Blew Away
25 December 1994
Susan Belbin
40 minutes.
15.14 million.
The Meldrews get a surprise visit from Mr. Foskett (Brian Murphy), whom they know only because they stayed in the same guesthouse 17 years ago. Meanwhile, someone has been tampering with Victor's Christmas crackers, and the Meldrews are annoyed when their unreliable stolen car is returned.

NOTE: This episode is considered to be the 1994 Christmas special.

29
Only a Story
1 January 1995
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
16.34 million.
Mrs. Warboys stays with the Meldrews while her flat dries out after a flood. Victor tries reflexology and has a run-in with a chimney sweep.
30
The Affair of the Hollow Lady
8 January 1995
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
11.17 million.
Mrs. Warboys has a wax model of herself made as the prize from a competition. Meanwhile, local greengrocer Millicent (Barbara Windsor) takes a fancy to Victor and attempts to lure him to her house when he misses a football match.
31
Rearranging the Dust
15 January 1995
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
10.91 million.
In their solicitor's waiting room, Victor and Margaret muse about life and observe the other visitors' bizarre habits.
32
Hole in the Sky
22 January 1995
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
10.87 million.
Victor and Patrick share an unpleasant experience in an Armenian restaurant, to which their wives had sent them so they could attempt to bury the hatchet. Victor experiments with seafood cookery and restores a Dutch marionette, which Margaret finds threatening. Meanwhile, the Meldrews have their loft converted by identical twin builders (Christopher Ryan)
33
The Exterminating Angel
29 January 1995
Susan Belbin
30 minutes.
10.39 million.
Mr. Swainey takes a fancy to his mother's nurse, Tania, and Margaret encourages him to ask her out. Victor takes a job as a chauffeur—only to rapidly destroy his employer's (John Bird) beloved fleet of expensive cars.

NOTE: Final appearance of Mildred. The song "No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry is featured.

Christmas Specials (1995 - 1997)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
34
The Wisdom of the Witch
25 December 1995
Susan Belbin
60 minutes.
17.77 million.
When Cousin Ursula dies, Victor and Margaret have to clear out her country house. Before they go, a witch predicts an untimely end for Victor. Meanwhile, Patrick and Pippa prepare to move far away from the Meldrews, but then Patrick gets stuck with Victor while trying to escape his secretary's jealous boyfriend (Phil Daniels). When the boyfriend finally catches up with them, Victor manages to rescue Patrick by charging at the man, knocking both of them out of the window.
# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
35
Starbound
26 December 1996
Susan Belbin (and Gareth Gwenlan)
60 minutes.
17.47 million.
The Meldrews find a man (Ray Winstone) living in their shed; he turns out to be a drug-dealer. Victor takes a gardening job, working for Patrick's new boss, Fenella Fortune (Rula Lenska) and dealing with very effective herbicide. Mr. Swainey's mother claims that she is being abducted by aliens every night. Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds is used in the closing credits.

NOTE: Last episode directed by Susan Belbin, who had to step down during filming due to ill health, and subsequently left the BBC. Gareth Gwenlan directed the remainder of the episode without credit, and Christine Gernon took over as the series' director the following year.

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
36
Endgame
25 December 1997
Christine Gernon
70 minutes.
15.76 million.
The Meldrews make an effort to get on with their pleasant new neighbours, Derek (Tim Brooke-Taylor) and Betty McVitie; the 2 couples go on holiday together. Victor buys a haunted caravan and then accidentally kidnaps the Indian mother of a millionaire.

NOTE: Only appearances of Derek and Betty McVitie. Features the song "River Runs Deep" performed by JJ Cale.

Series 6 (2000)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Director Duration Viewers
37
The Executioner's Song
16 October 2000
Christine Gernon
32 minutes 51 seconds
11.41 million.
Victor has a new job as a window-cleaner. Meanwhile, Patrick's plans for a quiet birthday are ruined after an unfortunate misunderstanding involving a modern art painting; and Pippa finds herself in an adulterous affair.

NOTE: Writer David Renwick makes a cameo appearance on Victor's TV, alongside presenter Lorraine Kelly, as a gentleman being interviewed for a feature on Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

38
Tales of Terror
23 October 2000
Christine Gernon
30 minutes
10.94 million.
Victor is angry at the poor job builders have made of his new crazy paving. Meanwhile, Victor has a health scare—perhaps due to his portrayal of an amateur-dramatic vampire—and the Meldrews try to get their new car's obscene number plates changed.

NOTE: Final appearances of Ronnie and Cousin Wilfred.

39
The Futility of the Fly
30 October 2000
Christine Gernon
30 minutes
10.58 million.
Victor hires an attractive cleaner (Katy Carmichael) to help around the house and inadvertently gets Mrs. Warboys tattooed. Meanwhile, a large plastic fly is delivered, and something's going on at the local takeaway.

NOTE: Final appearance of Mrs Warboys.

40
Threatening Weather
6 November 2000
Christine Gernon
30 minutes
8.94 million.
After a powercut on the hottest day of the year, the Meldrews play host to an incontinent visitor (Roy Hudd).
41
The Dawn of Man
13 November 2000
Christine Gernon
30 minutes
9.45 million.
A visit from Patrick's gay twin brother (Geoffrey Perkins) leaves Pippa mentally and physically exhausted, especially when Patrick sits on a cork. Meanwhile, Victor takes up fishing.

NOTE: Final appearances of Nick Swainey and Patrick and Pippa.

42
Things Aren't Simple Any More
20 November 2000
Christine Gernon
45 minutes
12.84 million.
After a disappointing reunion dinner, Victor is killed by a Dangerous Driver. Facing up to life without him, Margaret receives another shock when she discovers that Victor's killer is her new best friend Glynis (Hannah Gordon). How she handles this is left ambiguous.

NOTE: The song that's played over the ending of the episode is "End Of The Line" by the Traveling Wilburys. In the US release of the DVD the song is replaced by stock music. The reason for this is presumably the music clearance rights were not granted for US viewers.

Comic Relief Special (2001)[edit]

# Title Original Airdate Duration
Visiting Uncle Dick
16 March 2001
8 minutes.
Margaret is visiting a relative in hospital. Victor is his usual self, complaining about everything; and Margaret is her usual self, pretending not to hear him...or is she?

NOTE: Final appearances of Victor and Margaret Meldrew. Victor appears to be alive but Margaret does not acknowledge him. I believe he is a ghost and doesn't realize it.

Clip shows[edit]

Title Original Airdate Duration
One Foot In The Grave Selection Box
9 July 1997
35 minutes.
A clip show in which famous fans of the show choose their favourite moments. This was one of a series of similar clip shows covering various BBC sitcoms, and was subsequently released on VHS exclusively through Marks and Spencer. It is not available on DVD.
I Don't Believe It!: The One Foot in the Grave Story
20 November 2000
45 minutes.
A clip show presented by Angus Deayton featuring interviews with the people involved with the show, including: Richard Wilson, Annette Crosbie, David Renwick, Eric Idle, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Susie Blake, Owen Brenman, Janine Duvitski, Doreen Mantle, and Paul Merton. It was released as a standalone VHS and included on both the VHS and DVD issues of Series 6.
Britain's Best Sitcom: One Foot in the Grave
14 February 2004
60 minutes.
Rowland Rivron presents the case for One Foot in the Grave being voted Britain's Best Sitcom. Extracts of this programme are included on the Series 1 DVD.
Comedy Connections: One Foot in the Grave
12 January 2007
30 minutes.
Documentary including interviews with David Renwick, and cast and crew members.

Radio series (1995)[edit]

A series of remakes originally broadcast on BBC Radio 2, with Richard Wilson, Annette Crosbie, Owen Brenman and Doreen Mantle reprising their TV roles. Its original run coincided with the broadcast of TV series 5. All episodes are 30 minutes long and produced by Diane Messias. They were subsequently issued on audio cassette, CD and audio download.

#
Title Original Airdate Notes
1
Alive and Buried 21 January 1995 Remake of Series 1, Episode 1
2
Timeless Time 28 January 1995 Remake of Series 2, Episode 6
3
In Luton Airport, No One Can Hear You Scream 4 February 1995 Remake of Series 2, Episode 1
4
The Beast in the Cage 11 February 1995 Remake of Series 3, Episode 4

References[edit]

General
  • Richard Webber, "The Complete One Foot in the Grave", Orion Books, 2006
Specific
  1. ^ "One Foot in the Grave". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  2. ^ "One Foot in the Grave". BBC Guide to Comedy. Archived from the original on 2005-04-17. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  3. ^ One Foot in the Grave episode commentary, BBC DVD

External links[edit]