Men Behaving Badly

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For the American version, see Men Behaving Badly (U.S. TV series).
Men Behaving Badly
Men Behaving Badly title card.jpg
Series logo, which appears before the closing credits rolled. Gary and Tony dance badly in the background.
Created by Simon Nye
Written by Simon Nye
Directed by Martin Dennis
Starring Martin Clunes
Neil Morrissey (series 2–6)
Harry Enfield (series 1)
Leslie Ash
Caroline Quentin
Ian Lindsay
Valerie Minifie
Dave Atkins (series 1–4)
John Thomson (series 5–6)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 6
No. of episodes 42 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Hartswood Films
Distributor FremantleMedia
Broadcast
Original channel ITV (1992-1994)
BBC1 (1994-1998)
Picture format 4:3 (1992–1997)
16:9 (1998)
Original run 18 February 1992 (1992-02-18) – 28 December 1998 (1998-12-28)
Chronology
Related shows Men Behaving Badly (US remake)

Men Behaving Badly is a British sitcom that was created and written by Simon Nye. It follows the lives of Gary Strang (Martin Clunes) and his flatmates, Dermot Povey (Harry Enfield) (season 1 only) and Tony Smart (Neil Morrissey) (season 2 onwards). It was first broadcast on ITV in 1992. A total of six series were made along with a Christmas special and three final episodes that make up the feature-length "last orders".

The series was filmed in and around Ealing in west London and the final scene of series six was filmed at the Cerne Abbas giant. The setting however is implied to be South London and many references are made to Surrey.

It was produced by Hartswood Films, and Thames Television co-produced the first two series for ITV. They also assisted with production of the third series onwards that aired on the BBC.

After being moved to a post-watershed slot on BBC1, Men Behaving Badly became highly successful. It was voted the best sitcom in the BBC's history at BBC Television's 60th anniversary celebrations in 1996. It has also won the Comedy Awards' best ITV comedy, and the first National Television Award for Situation Comedy.[1]

In a BBC article, it is suggested Gary and Tony were "a reaction against the onset of the caring, sharing 'new man'. It appeared to revel in a politically incorrect world of booze, burps and boobs". Nevertheless, critics Jon Lewis and Penny Stempel have stated the show "allowed male viewers to indulge in vicarious laddism, whilst allowing female viewers to ridicule the bad but lovable Tony and Gary". They also commented that "it was also a genuine sitcom in that the humour came from the characters and their context". Simon Nye remarked: "I don't do mad, plot-driven farragoes. You have to allow your characters time to talk."[2]

The show has been repeated on BBC One, Dave and G.O.L.D., and all six series are available on DVD.

Plot summary[edit]

Gary and Tony are two beer-guzzling flatmates, revelling in a second childhood, hours of TV and mindless talks about women, the kind of behaviour that puts their relationships with Dorothy (Gary's girlfriend) and Deborah (an attractive blonde in the flat above) in jeopardy.

Gary manages an office selling burglar alarms for a dead-end company. His staff are two ageing employees: the hen-pecked George and eternal spinster Anthea, who regularly drive him to exasperation with their old-fashioned ways. Tony stumbles through a range of jobs including modelling, bar work and miming, after his record stall collapsed (somewhat literally).

Dorothy is a quick-witted, sensible nurse. She and Gary frequently split up and are occasionally unfaithful (including one fateful night when Dorothy sleeps with Tony and thinks she might be pregnant), but always end up back together. Tony has many girlfriends but his true feelings are for Deborah, whom he initially just wants to have sex with, but quickly falls in love with. Deborah is often exasperated by Tony's immature behaviour, but can also see the good in him. The two finally end up in a relationship in series 6.

Cast[edit]

  • Gary Strang (Martin Clunes) – Gary operates a security sales office with two old-fashioned middle-aged subordinates. He also owns the flat that he shares with Dermot, and later Tony. Gary is a man in his thirties, and enjoys talk of girls and indulges in lager and a perpetual childhood with best friend Tony. Gary on occasions makes a fool of himself; foolishness that is quickly exploited by girlfriend Dorothy. Despite his stereotypical masculinity, at heart, Gary is a gentle soul and loves Dorothy. In earlier episodes he can be somewhat snobbish, but his behaviour becomes more obviously 'laddish' after the introduction of Tony.
  • Dermot Povey (Harry Enfield, series one only) – Dermot is Gary's original flat mate featured only in series one. Like Tony, Dermot is forever failing to pay his way at Gary's flat and is desperately in love with Deborah. Dermot both lies and cheats in an attempt to garner success with Deborah. However, like Tony, he fails miserably.
  • Tony Smart (Neil Morrissey, series two onwards) – Tony is Gary's good-looking semi-stud flatmate, who is forever in love and always obsessed with the 'blonde babe' upstairs, Deborah. Tony is softer than Gary and at times even more childish than he. Tony drifts from job to job and fails to pay his rent to Gary. Like his flat mate, Tony enjoys girls, lager, and an eternal childhood. Despite Gary's initial reservations, Tony soon replaces Dermot in the role of Gary's best friend.

Tony and Dermot are similar in character, although Dermot is slightly more stressed and neurotic. He is only mentioned twice after his departure, the first to explain that he simply is not coming home, having gone travelling with a croupier called Letitia, and the second in the first episode of series five, when Dorothy recalls him to which Gary replies, "Did I tell you he got a job at Euro-Disney testing the rides?"

  • Deborah Burton (Leslie Ash) – Deborah is an attractive blonde woman who lives in the flat above Gary and Tony. Deborah works in a restaurant, and although partially attracted to Tony, his selfishness, immaturity and other aspects of his character push her away just as they begin to get close. Deborah is frequently changing her mind about Tony, a character she both loves and loathes simultaneously. The two finally begin a relationship in the first episode of series six.
  • Dorothy Martin/Bishop (Caroline Quentin) – Dorothy is Gary's sharp-tongued girlfriend who is a nurse. She lives with her parents, due to the fact her mother threatens to "kill herself if she moves out". Dorothy loves Gary. However, his immaturity and other aspects of his character cause the pair to occasionally drift apart. Dorothy is not always treated satisfactorily by Gary; being lied to and occasionally cheated on, she doesn't hesitate to get her revenge by humiliating Gary and cheating on him herself. In early episodes Dorothy does not particularly like Deborah (referring to her disparagingly as 'Miss Wet-dream' in a series two episode); however, over the years the pair bond over their mutual exasperation at Gary and Tony's behaviour, and eventually decide to share a flat. Though Dorothy's surname is not mentioned in dialogue, in early episodes of the series Dorothy's namebadge shows it to be 'Martin'. This is changed to 'Bishop' in later series.

Other characters[edit]

  • George (Ian Lindsay) – a meek, middle-aged, cardigan-wearing office worker. Both he and Anthea are tolerant ears for Gary to moan out his problems, and Gary treats them with thinly-veiled contempt. George leads a very unambitious life. His wife Marjorie (who is never seen) is involved in amateur dramatics, in productions of Dr Zhivago and so on. George is also a fan of the 1960s folk group The Seekers.
  • Anthea (Valerie Minifie) – an introverted spinster secretary, who, like George, is very old fashioned. She admits that her job is the closest thing she has to having a family, and her life away from work is very miserable. Gary is known to take out his frustration on Anthea, one of his more common punishments being to lock her in the office cupboard.
  • Les (Dave Atkins) – The 'dribbly' landlord of The Crown, the pub that the main characters frequent. Les is known for his disgusting manner and his service of offering locals a goodbye gherkin. He admits his name is actually "Des", and "Les" is his older brother, but as a child he wanted everything that was his brother's, including his name.
  • Ken (John Thomson) – Replaces Les as the landlord of The Crown from series 5 onwards. Ken has never managed a pub before, and so is clueless with regards to pub terminology and common practice. He got the position because his brother is 'sleeping with' the brewery's personnel manager, Mrs Swift.

Other characters include Clive – a friend of Gary's who never appears on screen. Writer Simon Nye played the minor role of Clive in series 6, wearing a bright green suit. Also, Neville appears in series 2 with Tony, running the stall adjacent to his.

The show's origins[edit]

The show is based on Simon Nye's 1989 book of the same title. TV producer Beryl Vertue came across the novel and tracked down Nye, believing it was suited for television adaptation. Harry Enfield was then cast first, and persuaded Martin Clunes that he should join the show.

The first series features Martin Clunes as Gary Strang, and Harry Enfield as his flatmate, Dermot Povey, but Enfield felt out of place in the sitcom and decided to quit. It has also been reported that Enfield has claimed he felt uncomfortable in the programme, and left stating that a "proper actor" would do the job far better. Simon Nye has stated that ITV picked up the series partly because Enfield had agreed to star in it, and his departure influenced ITV's decision to cancel the show after just two series, when audience figures were poor. It has been claimed that this was owing to ITV giving it a poor slot in the schedules, forcing the 'bad behaviour' to be toned down.

In 1994, the show went to the BBC, who aired a further four series. The shift to a new station and a later time-slot meant, as the BBC have stated, the show could indulge in "more colourful language and behaviour" although all f-words were bleeped as was common practice on the BBC at the time. The show became highly successful on BBC1, winning numerous awards for the show, its writer, and its stars.[3]

The first series featuring Enfield has never been repeated on the BBC, although the second ITV series has been shown.[3]

Episodes[edit]

The show aired for six series and forty two episodes, including a Christmas special titled 'Jingle Balls', which was broadcast over Christmas 1997. A final short run of three 45-minute episodes was made in 1998 to conclude the series. These were broadcast over Christmas, like the (then cited as final) three episodes of Only Fools and Horses two years earlier.

In 2002 it was revelaed that Simon Nye and the cast had agreed to revive the series for three further specials the following year, which came about as a result of producer Beryl Vertue looking at the idea of seeing how Gary and Dorothy were coping with parenthood.[4] However, the idea was shelved the following year after Caroline Quentin became pregnant.[5] In 2014, Clunes and Morrissey returned to the characters of Gary and Tony for the first time since 1998 in a sketch for Channel 4's Stand Up to Cancer telethon.[6]

Series one was the only series to feature Dermot, played by Harry Enfield, and the only series not to feature Neil Morrissey as Tony. The episodes of the first two series are about 24 minutes long because they were shown on ITV and time was needed for advertisements. When the show began on the BBC, the episodes were about four minutes longer.

DVD releases[edit]

All six series are available on region 2 DVD separately, and a complete collection featuring all six series is also available. The 1997 Christmas special and final trilogy are also available on DVD.

Owing to licensing difficulties, the music at the beginning of episode one 'Hair' and the rave in episode five 'Cardigan' had to be changed for the Series 5 DVD.

DVD Title Discs Year Episodes DVD release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Complete Series 1 1 1991 6 25 January 2005 8 May 2000 14 August 2000
Complete Series 2 1 1992 6 25 January 2005 5 June 2000 14 August 2000
Complete Series 3 1 1994 6 10 January 2006 5 June 2000 14 August 2000
Complete Series 4 1 1995 7 10 January 2006 3 July 2000 14 August 2000
Complete Series 5 1 1996 7 7 November 2006 3 July 2000 14 August 2000
Complete Series 6 1 1997 6 7 November 2006 20 November 2000 14 August 2000
Jingle Balls! 1 1997 1 On "Last Orders" DVD 1 January 2008 N/A
Last Orders 1 1998 3 7 November 2006 1 September 2003 14 August 2000
Complete Series 16 6 1991–1997 38 N/A 22 September 2003 N/A
Complete Series 1LO 7 1991–1998 42 7 November 2006 29 October 2012 8 August 2001

Other appearances and references[edit]

  • A brief sequence was included in Comic Relief 1997, titled 'Men Behaving Very Badly Indeed' and featured a guest appearance by Kylie Minogue. Although references to her were in the series, this sketch had her showing up at the flat, with both Gary and Tony failing to recognise her. It was released on DVD as part of the 2002 VCI release 'Seriously Funny!'
  • Another brief appearance was for Comic Relief 1999, which showed a 'Swinging Sixties' version of the show via recently discovered black-and-white footage, known as 'The Naughty Boys'.
  • Women Exercising Madly features the four main characters in a short scene at the start, while the main content is Debs and Dorothy taking part in a humorous exercise video, intercut with scenes from other series, before the girls get home and collapse with exhaustion.
  • Though completely unrelated to the show, Neil Morrissey lent his name to a cheap sell-through video, Neil Morrissey's Motorbike Mania. The video, which features low quality footage of motorbikes and occasional vignettes featuring Morrissey, was marketed as though it was related to the series, with phrases including "Wahay mates!" and 'behaving badly' used liberally throughout the inlay. It was later re-released as 'Bikes Behaving Badly'.
  • After his departure from the show, a regular sketch in Harry Enfield's Television Programme features the character of 1950s television presenter Mr Cholmondeley-Warner. In one episode, he looks at the future of television, and among the envisaged programmes was one called 'Men Behaving Splendidly'.
  • Clunes and Morrissey travelled to Australia to make and host/star in the series 'Men Down Under', which featured them as themselves, rather than as their characters, exploring Aussie 'bloke' culture.
  • Morrissey and Ash appeared together after the series ended, but using their real names, in a series of advertisements for the national DIY chain Homebase.
  • Morrissey also appeared in a 1997 advertisement for MasterCard.
  • Clunes and Morrissey also reprised their roles as Gary and Tony in a special sketch filmed for Channel 4's Stand Up To Cancer charity program in October 2014. It was the first time the show had returned in over 15 years and was written by the original writer, Simon Nye.[7]

U.S. version[edit]

The series was remade for US television, broadcast on NBC 1996–1997, starred Rob Schneider, Ken Marino, Ron Eldard and Justine Bateman, and took place in Indianapolis, Indiana.[8] As a result, the original series was eventually screened in the US on BBC America as British Men Behaving Badly. In Australia, where the British version was screened under its original title on the ABC, the US series was broadcast as It's a Man's World on the Seven Network.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Book) Cult TV: The Comedies, the ultimate critical guide-Jon E Lewis and Penny Stempel
  2. ^ (Book) Cult TV: The Comedies, the ultimate critical guide – Jon E Lewis and Penny Stempel
  3. ^ a b BBC – Comedy – Men Behaving Badly
  4. ^ "Men to Behave Badly again". BBC News. BBC. 5 May 2002. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Going Badly: Sitcom return shelved". Chortle. 23 February 2003. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Men Behaving Badly return for charity sketch". BBC News. BBC. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Men Behaving Badly (US) – TV.com

External links[edit]