Next of Kin (TV series)

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Next of Kin
Genre Sitcom
Created by Gavin Petrie
Starring Penelope Keith
William Gaunt
Ann Gosling
Matthew Clarke
Jamie Lucraft
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 22
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Original run 15 May 1995 – 20 February 1997

Next of Kin is a British sitcom that aired on BBC1 from 1995 to 1997. It starred Penelope Keith in her last regular sitcom role. The plot follows well-to-do couple Maggie and Andrew Prentice who are forced to abandon their dreams of early retirement after they reluctantly become guardians of their orphaned grandchildren, after the death of their estranged son. It was written by Gavin Petrie and Jan Etherington.

It was announced in The Mirror newspaper in April 1997 that Next of Kin had been axed by the BBC and that Penelope Keith was furious.[1]

Plot[edit]

Self-absorbed middle-class couple Maggie and Andrew Prentice have just taken early retirement and intend to spend their final years luxuriating in their new vineyard in France. However, when their estranged son Graham and his wife (they only refer to her as 'Bootface') die in a car crash, Maggie and Andrew are forced to become legal guardians of Graham's three children, thirteen-year-old Georgia, eleven-year-old Philip and seven-year-old Jake, meaning that they will never be able to go to France. In the first series, Maggie and Andrew officially adopted the children. Maggie especially hates this as she doesn't like children, and the children blatantly resent her and Andrew for the way they treated their parents. To make matters worse the children are argumentative and fussy. Georgia is a vegetarian environmentalist, Philip only eats spam and Jake won't eat anything round.

During the series, the family struggle to get along together, with Andrew and Maggie missing their former privileged life, and the children unwilling to give their grandparents a chance. Maggie and Andrew also feel considerable remorse for the appalling way they treated their late son, Graham, and they gradually grow to love and care deeply for their grandchildren.

The Prentice's also employ a cleaner, Liz, who lives her life based on horoscopes and daytime talk shows such as Oprah. Over the course of the series, Liz develops a relationship with Tom, a builder, who arrives to install a damp course in the kitchen and then is employed to do further jobs, including converting the garage into another bedroom for Georgia. Tom is a serial womanizer with various one night stands turning up throughout series 2 much to Liz's frustration. Both Liz and Tom only appear in series 1 and 2. It is revealed in series 3 that they left together after Liz became pregnant.

Also making regular appearances are Rosie and Hugh Buckingham, Maggie and Andrew's best friends. Snobbish and child-free, they regularly turn their noses up at things such as pets, camping, and vacuuming whilst regaling Maggie and Andrew with their tales of their latest holiday, trip to the gym, or game of golf, depressing them with tales of the life they used to enjoy but never will again.

During series 2 and 3 Philip acquires a new friend/girlfriend in Roxanne. Loud, scruffy, and outspoken, she owns a very large dog named Die Hard.

Characters[edit]

Maggie Prentice (Penelope Keith) Maggie was dreaming of moving to France, drinking fine wines and eating good food. She declares that moving to France will be an opportunity to end all ties with Graham. She readily admits that she did not particularly like her son Graham, nor his wife, but upon hearing news of his death, she hates herself for not being a better mother to him. She dislikes children and doesn't want to have to take in her grandchildren. Throughout the series she is shown to be more compassionate and grows to enjoy having the children around.

Andrew Prentice (William Gaunt) Andrew shares Maggie's idea that moving to France will be a chance to cut Graham from their lives, but when Graham dies, Andrew is more relaxed about having the children come to live with them, as it gives him a chance to be the good father he never was to Graham. He too was looking forward to early retirement in France, but he realises rather quickly that he has no choice but to look after his grandchildren. He does however show reluctance to make certain sacrifices such as selling his vintage car, his wine cellar and his weekly game of golf.

Georgia Prentice (Ann Gosling) Georgia is a sullen and self-righteous 13-year-old vegetarian environmentalist. She resents having to live with her grandparents and is determined to make things as difficult for them as possible, especially Maggie. She repeatedly feels isolated in being the only girl and believes she is not as likeable as her brothers. During the series she deals with an eating disorder which brings her slightly closer to Maggie.

Philip Prentice (Matthew Clarke) Philip is 11. He struggles to cope with the death of his parents and becomes increasingly difficult, although not as much as Georgia. He will not eat anything other than spam. During the course of the series he develops an interest in the drums as well as girls. He is seen to be bullied in the last episode during which in the final scene he gives Maggie a Mothers Day card, giving the impression that he has accepted Maggie and Andrew as his adoptive parents.

Jake Prentice (Jamie Lucraft) Jake is seven years old. He has a keen interest in all animals from goldfish, stick insects, hamsters and rabbits. He seems less affected by his parents deaths than Georgia and Philip.

Liz (Tracie Bennett) Liz is the Prentice's cleaner. She has an unpleasant daughter, Laura, and lives her every day through horoscopes, advice pages and daytime television. During the series she becomes involved with Tom, who has a string of ex lovers calling and bumping into him. Liz, unhappy and fearful that he will not be faithful becomes reluctant to stay involved with him. In series 2 when her violent ex-husband Jack gives her two black eyes, Tom goes to 'sort him out' only to end up in hospital himself. Liz then sees him as a hero and someone who can protect her. Liz does not appear in series 3.

Tom (Mark Powley) Tom is a builder. He arrives at the house to install a damp course. Both Georgia and Liz immediately have a crush on him. He is then employed to convert the garage into a fourth bedroom and from then on becomes more involved with Liz. By the second series the relationship develops further with Tom hitting Liz's ex-husband after he beats her up. Tom does not appear in series 3.

During episode one of series 3 when Roxanne mistakes Rosie for the new cleaner, she mentions that 'the last one got pregnant and ran off with the builder'.

Rosie and Hugh Buckingham (Wanda Ventham) & (Timothy Carlton) Hugh and his idle, pampered wife Rosie are Maggie and Andrews oldest and best friends. They are a wealthy, childless couple who regularly went to the gym, played golf and went on holiday with Maggie and Andrew, but after the children arrive, Maggie and Andrew can no longer do this. Rosie and Hugh depress Maggie and Andrew with their stories of luxurious holidays, massages, parties and rounds of golf, making them long for their old life back.

Roxanne (Diana Magness) Roxanne is an outspoken, slightly scruffy school friend and then girlfriend of Philip's. The Prentice's are slightly intimidated by her and her dog Die Hard.

Ant (Jeremy Swift) Ant is a social worker. He first appears in the first series when Philip is taken to hospital with a head injury after pretending to be a human cannonball. The hospital think he has been mistreated and Ant is appointed to take on the case. He makes semi regular appearances, coming back to oversee the adoption process and even directing Jake's school's nativity play. It is revealed in series 2 that his wife has left him for a woman named Ruby. He does not appear in series 3 and is not mentioned.

Jelly is a dog, bought by the children as a birthday present for Maggie in series 2. She only appears in this episode as she is re-homed when it emerges that Philip suffers from an allergy when Jelly is near him. Although Maggie did not like or want Jelly at first, she bonds with the puppy when she becomes ill, and is saddened to let her go.

Graham Prentice (Unseen character) Graham is Maggie and Andrew's estranged son. Maggie and Andrew never wanted to be parents, and thus their relationship with Graham was not a loving one. Maggie admits that Graham especially resented her. He and his unnamed wife vehemently badmouthed Maggie and Andrew to Georgia, Philip and Jake, and the children often recall the horrible things Graham endured at his parents' hands, such as being abandoned at boarding school whilst Andrew and Maggie enjoyed themselves abroad. Despite not bonding with Graham, upon hearing new of his death, Maggie was furious at herself for not trying to be a better mother to him.

Cast[edit]

Location[edit]

The series was mostly filmed on location in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The Prentice household was on Tivoli Road while the school was St James' Primary School in Cheltenham.[2]

Theme Tune[edit]

The theme tune was a reworked version of the song Tea for Two. It was sung by the cast.

  • Penelope Keith "Tea For Two and Two For Tea"
  • William Gaunt "Me For You and You For Me"
  • Both Together "Can't You See How Happy We Would Be?"
  • Children Together "You Could Raise a Family"
  • Matthew Clarke & Jamie Lucraft "A Boy Like Us"
  • Ann Gosling "A Girl Like Me"
  • Whole Cast "Can't You See How Happy We Could Be?"

Episodes[edit]

Series One (1995)[edit]

  • "Accidental Death" (15 May 1995)

Maggie and Andrew's hopes for retirement
in France are dashed when their
grandchildren come to live with them
after their parents are killed in a car crash.

  • "Harry" (22 May 1995)
  • "Enjoyment" (29 May 1995)

'Andrew takes the kids out to entertain them,
only to get himself arrested.

  • "Expansion" (5 June 1995)

It's decided to build an extension to give
the children their own bedrooms, prompting
Andrew to make a tearful goodbye to his
garage wine collection.

  • "The New Term" (12 June 1995)

Maggie's looking forward to some time to
herself now the children are going back to
school, but chicken-poxes intervenes.

  • "Adoption" (19 June 1995)

Maggie & Andrew are to become the
children's legal guardians.

Christmas Special (1995)[edit]

  • "The Nativity Play" (21 December 1995)

It's the school Christmas play but Andrew
is getting seduced by a young mother and
Maggie gets stopped by the police.

Series Two (1996)[edit]

  • "Georgia's Party" (2 January 1996)

After reading Georgia's diary, Maggie
believes she has forgot her birthday,
prompting her to hold a belated one.

  • "Pollution" (9 January 1996)

Maggie becomes concerned about
a new teacher at the kids' school.

  • "The Puppy" (16 January 1996)

Maggie is horrified to receive a
puppy on her birthday.

  • "The Sports Day" (23 January 1996)
  • "Camping" (30 January 1996)
  • "The Anniversary" (6 February 1996)
  • "The Theme Park" (13 February 1996)

Series Three (1997)[edit]

  1. "The Flu" (2 January 1997)
  2. "Embarrassment" (9 January 1997)
  3. "She's Leaving Home" (16 January 1997)
  4. "The Cub Mistress" (23 January 1997)
  5. "The Narrowboat" (30 January 1997)
  6. "The Fast" (6 February 1997)
  7. "Neighbours" (13 February 1997)
  8. "The Bully" (20 February 1997)

DVD releases[edit]

Whilst no episodes are available on DVD in the UK, the first series was released in Australia in 2009.[3]

References[edit]

  • Mark Lewisohn, "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy", BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003

External links[edit]