Never the Twain

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This article is about the TV sitcom. For the original poem containing this phrase, see The Ballad of East and West. For the 1925 film, see Never the Twain Shall Meet.
Never the Twain
Never the Twain title card.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by Johnnie Mortimer
Directed by Peter Frazer-Jones
(series 1-3)

Robert Reed (series 4-7)
Douglas Argent (series 8)
Nick Hurran (series 9-10)
Anthony Parker (series 11)
Starring Maria Charles
Windsor Davies
Derek Deadman
Donald Sinden
Teddy Turner
Theme music composer Jack Trombey
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 11
No. of episodes 67
Production
Producer(s) Peter Frazer-Jones
(1981 - 1988)

Anthony Parker (1988 - 1991)
Location(s) Hersham, Surrey
Running time 30 minutes
(including commercials)
Production company(s) Thames Television
Distributor Fremantle Media
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3
Original run 7 September 1981 (1981-09-07) – 9 October 1991 (1991-10-09)

Never the Twain is a British sitcom that ran for eleven series from 7 September 1981 to 9 October 1991. It was created by Johnnie Mortimer, and was the only sitcom he ever created without his usual writing partner, Brian Cooke. Mortimer wrote the entirety of the first two series, one episode of the seventh, and five out of six episodes of the eighth, with the rest being mainly written by John Kane and Vince Powell (who wrote the whole of the last three series).

It starred Windsor Davies and Donald Sinden as rival antique dealers, and also starred Robin Kermode (later replaced by Christopher Morris), Julia Watson (later replaced by Tacy Kneale), Honor Blackman, Teddy Turner, Derek Deadman, Maria Charles and Zara Nutley.

It was made by Thames Television for the ITV network. Since it finished, it has been repeated a few times on satellite television: first on UK Gold and later on ITV3.

The title is taken from the Rudyard Kipling poem; The Ballad of East and West. The show's theme tune was composed by Jack Trombey and the track was entitled Domino.

Plot[edit]

Oliver Smallbridge, played by Windsor Davies, and Simon Peel, played by Donald Sinden, are antiques dealers who are also bitter enemies (after a falling-out having been business partners) and next-door neighbours, both in their homes and shops. They are engaged in a continuous game of one-upmanship, so both of them are shocked when they find out that their respective children (Smallbridge's daughter Lyn - played by Watson and later Kneale - and Peel's son David - played by Kermode and later Morris) are in love and want to marry as soon as possible. The fathers are forced to reluctantly accept the relationship and marriage, which takes place at the end of the first series.

It is the impending marriage of Lyn and David and the early days of their marriage, alongside Oliver and Simon battling over the affection of middle-class widow Veronica Barton (played by Blackman), that provides the basis for the first two series (both written entirely by Mortimer). The third series features a failed attempt by Simon and Oliver to try to renew their business partnership.

After the third series, Lyn and David move to Vancouver in Canada, leaving the daily goings on at Simon and Oliver's shops and in their private lives as the main themes of the show. Other notable characters in the series are be Simon's butler Banks (played by Turner), a replacement for a foreign au pair that Simon had requested; Ringo (played by Deadman), Oliver's idiotic assistant in his shop; and Mrs. Sadler (played by Charles), Oliver's clumsy cleaner, who has an annoying tendency to accidentally break things. Banks and Mrs. Sadler's amorous relationship provides humorous material in these series, with both of them marrying and leaving the show at the end of the seventh series. The fourth to seventh series were written by a group of writers, Powell and Me and My Girl co-creator Kane being the most prominent.

In the eighth series (mostly written again by Mortimer), Lyn and David return from Canada with their son (and Oliver's and Simon's grandson) Martin, who provides a new platform on which Simon and Oliver can develop their long-standing rivalry, fighting over who is the better grandfather. However, at the end of that series, Lyn, David and Martin move to a new flat in Friern Barnet.

Simon and Oliver's daily personal and business lives are the primary focus of the final three series (all written in their entirety by Powell). In these series, another character (who had already made two appearances in series 4 and 7) begins to appear regularly: Simon's Aunt Eleanor (played by Nutley, who had also appeared in Vince Powell's earlier sitcom Mind Your Language), moves near Oliver and Simon.

Also, appearing in some episodes of the series were Donald Sinden's sons Marc and Jeremy, while his wife Diana appeared in the last ever episode.[1]

Episodes[edit]

Donald Sinden (left) with Susie Silvey and Windsor Davies during filming of Never the Twain.

Series 1 (1981)[edit]

  • 1.1. Families at War (7 September 1981)
  • 1.2. Of Meissen Men (14 September 1981)
  • 1.3. A Night at the Opera (21 September 1981)
  • 1.4. A Matched Pair! (28 September 1981)
  • 1.5. Nothing but the Truth (5 October 1981)
  • 1.6. Father of the Groom (19 October 1981)

Series 2 (1982)[edit]

  • 2.1. Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (7 September 1982)
  • 2.2. As Young as You Feel (14 September 1982)
  • 2.3. A Woman's Place ... (21 September 1982)
  • 2.4. Blood Brothers (28 September 1982)
  • 2.5. lf You Knew Susan (5 October 1982)
  • 2.6. The More We are Together (12 October 1982)

Series 3 (1983)[edit]

  • 3.1. Taking Stock (10 October 1983)
  • 3.2. Partners (17 October 1983)
  • 3.3. A Nose for Quality (24 October 1983)
  • 3.4. The End of the Line (31 October 1983)
  • 3.5. The Welsh Connection (7 November 1983)
  • 3.6. Not on the Same Wavelength (14 November 1983)

Series 4 (1984)[edit]

  • 4.1. A Home of Your Own (8 November 1984)
  • 4.2. The Royal Connection (15 November 1984)
  • 4.3. Words and Music (22 November 1984)
  • 4.4. No Flame Like an Old Flame (29 November 1984)
  • 4.5. Love's Neighbours Lost (6 December 1984)
  • 4.6. Come Fly with Me! (13 December 1984)

Series 5 (1986)[edit]

  • 5.1. In Whom, We Tryst (8 January 1986)
  • 5.2. Going, Going, Gone! (15 January 1986)
  • 5.3. Thicker Than Water (22 January 1986)
  • 5.4. Kung Who? (29 January 1986)
  • 5.5. Reading Between The Lines (5 February 1986)
  • 5.6. Definitely Not Cricket (12 February 1986)

Series 6 (1987)[edit]

  • 6.1. Feed a Cold (15 January 1987)
  • 6.2. Going to Pot (22 January 1987)
  • 6.3. Love is a Many Splendoured Thing (29 January 1987)
  • 6.4. A Night to Remember (5 February 1987)
  • 6.5. The Battle of Deveraux Dale (12 February 1987)
  • 6.6. Affairs of the Heart (19 February 1987)

Series 7 (1988)[edit]

  • 7.1. Settled Out of Court (27 January 1988)
  • 7.2. The Wagers of Sin (3 February 1988)
  • 7.3. Betrothed, Bothered and Bewildered (10 February 1988)
  • 7.4. The Second Time Around (17 February 1988)
  • 7.5. Born to Blush Unseen (24 February 1988)
  • 7.6. Fasten Your Seat Belts! (2 March 1988)

Series 8 (1988)[edit]

  • 8.1. Grandfathers-in-Law (24 October 1988)
  • 8.2. Nursery Times (31 October 1988)
  • 8.3. Whose Baby? (7 November 1988)
  • 8.4. Never Say Die (14 November 1988)
  • 8.5. Moving on (21 November 1988)
  • 8.6. It's a Long Way to Friern Barnet (28 November 1988)

Series 9 (1989)[edit]

  • 9.1. Just the Ticket (6 September 1989)
  • 9.2. A Point of Honour (13 September 1989)
  • 9.3. A New Lease of Life (20 September 1989)
  • 9.4. Aspects of Love (27 September 1989)
  • 9.5. Neighbours (4 October 1989)
  • 9.6. Bonjour Paris (11 October 1989)

Christmas Special (1989)[edit]

  • A Winter's Tale (28 December 1989)

Series 10 (1990)[edit]

  • 10.1. X Marks the Spot (5 September 1990)
  • 10.2. S.W.A.L.K. (12 September 1990)
  • 10.3. Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (19 September 1990)
  • 10.4. Happy Holiday (26 September 1990)
  • 10.5. There But for the Grace of God (3 October 1990)
  • 10.6. A Car by Any Other Name (10 October 1990)

Series 11 (1991)[edit]

  • 11.1. Viva Espana (4 September 1991)
  • 11.2. The Best Laid Plans (11 September 1991)
  • 11.3. Born Again (18 September 1991)
  • 11.4. There Goes the Bride (25 September 1991)
  • 11.5. Two Fools and Their Money (2 October 1991)
  • 11.6. The First of the Queue (9 October 1991)

DVD releases[edit]

The complete first series was released on DVD in June 2001, by Clear Vision and no other series were released. It was announced that a different company will release a DVD featuring the first two series, it was released in September 2010.

DVD title Discs Year Episodes DVD release
Region 2
Complete Series 1 and 2 2 19811982 12 6 September 2010

Locations[edit]

The outside locations for the two antique shops were filmed in Hersham, Surrey on the site of a restaurant.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0802052/