The Upper Hand

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For the film, see The Upper Hand (film).
The Upper Hand
Genre Sitcom
Starring Joe McGann
Diana Weston
Honor Blackman
Kellie Bright
William Puttock
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 7
No. of episodes 94 (list of episodes)
Production
Camera setup Videotape; multicamera
Running time 30 minutes
Release
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3 (576i)
Original release 1 May 1990 (1990-05-01) – 14 October 1996 (1996-10-14)
Chronology
Related shows Who's the Boss?

The Upper Hand is a British television sitcom, produced by Central Independent Television and Columbia Pictures Television (then as Columbia TriStar Central Productions) and broadcast by ITV from 1990 to 1996. The programme was adapted from the American sitcom Who's the Boss?.

As in the former series, an affluent single woman Caroline Weatley, raising her son with the help of her mother Laura West, hires a housekeeper only to have a man called Charlie Burrows apply for the job.[1]

Setting[edit]

Down on his luck former footballer Charlie Burrows (Joe McGann) moves from a deprived area of London to leafy Henley-on-Thames to make a better life for his daughter, Joanna (Kellie Bright), taking a job as housekeeper for well-off advertising executive Caroline Wheatley (Diana Weston). Although Caroline is unsure about employing him, her man-eating mother Laura West (Honor Blackman) talks her into it. Soon the two become friends, with Caroline's son Tom (William Puttock) coming to see Charlie as a father figure, and Joanna enjoying having a female influence in her life.

Both Caroline and Charlie repeatedly attempt to find love elsewhere, denying their blossoming feelings for one another. For years they lead the viewer on a will-they-won't-they chase, lasting until the end of the sixth series, when the pair marry. After initial plans to end the series there, ITV commissioned a seventh series featuring Charlie and Caroline as husband and wife, which went beyond the premise of the original American version.

Characters[edit]

  • Charlie Burrows (Joe McGann) - A former footballer whose career was curtailed by injury, Charlie is also a single dad to daughter Joanna since his wife Debbie's death. Down on his luck and living in a deprived area of London, Charlie takes a housekeeper's job in Henley-on-Thames in the hope of giving Joanna a better life. Confident, charming and something of a joker, he is a contrast to the more serious Caroline, and helps to loosen her up over time. A running joke is that while Charlie sees himself very much as a traditional man, he enthusiastically embraces a stereotypically female job and its tasks.
  • Caroline Wheatley (Diana Weston) - A successful advertising executive who, while confident in the business world, struggles in her personal life. Separated from her unreliable husband, Caroline shares her life with her son Tom (whom she over-indulges somewhat) and her young-at-heart mother Laura, who constantly tries to find her daughter a man. She is somewhat buttoned up, but begins to take a more relaxed approach to life under Charlie's influence.
  • Laura West (Honor Blackman) - Caroline's glamorous, young-at-heart mother (she is a man-eater) who lives in an annex of her daughter's house. Something of a man-eater, she dates a string of different men throughout the course of the series. It is Laura who initially hires Charlie, mainly because of his looks, but when she spots the chemistry between him and Caroline she does everything she can to encourage a relationship between them. Although Laura frequently makes cracks at Caroline's expense, she genuinely loves her daughter and can be very protective of her.
  • Joanna Burrows (Kellie Bright) - Charlie's daughter; an outgoing, confident girl who is something of a tomboy in early episodes, but becomes more typically "girly" as she reaches her teens. She initially resents Caroline, finding her stuck-up, but comes to appreciate having a woman around as she goes through puberty. Just as Caroline is influenced by Charlie, Jo's confidence rubs off on Tom somewhat.
  • Tom Wheatley (William Puttock) - Caroline's son, whom she over-indulges somewhat to compensate for the lack of his father's presence. Although academically intelligent beyond his years, Tom is socially naive and struggles to make friends. He comes to see Charlie, who encourages him in more typically "boyish" pursuits such as football, as a father figure, as well as becoming close to Jo (although she oftens treats him as an annoyance as she gets older).

Minor and recurring characters[edit]

  • Michael Wheatley (Nicky Henson) - Caroline's unreliable estranged (later ex) husband; a documentary maker who spends most of his time in the jungle. The two briefly attempt a reconciliation, but this fails when Michael struggles to settle down. He later remarries and plans to fight for custody of Tom, until his much younger wife, Tiffany, decides she is not ready for motherhood.
  • Nick Murray (Anthony Newley) - Joanna's maternal grandfather, who has a difficult relationship with Charlie, having never believed him good enough for his late daughter Debbie. A somewhat shady character, Nick spends time in prison for fraud; the revelation which of upsets Jo, who had been told by Charlie that her grandfather had moved to Spain.
  • Auntie Pat (Lynda Baron) - Charlie's godmother; a lively, kind-hearted woman with a habit of pinching people's cheeks in greeting (to the point that other characters instinctively protect their faces on seeing her).
  • Al (Charlie Creed-Miles) - Auntie Pat's uncle (although several years younger than her). A former young offender, he attempts to turn his life around by training as a hairdresser. Charlie takes him under his wing, but is less keen on having him around when he spots an attraction between Al and Jo.
  • Katie (Joanna Forest)
  • Tom (Jack Bernhardt) An easily confused handyman who has a brief affair with Laura.

Theme tune[edit]

The theme music was written by Debbie Wiseman. A piano version of the theme titled Joe & Diana was released in 2011 on her album Piano Stories.

Episodes[edit]

Series Episodes Original broadcast
Series premiere Series finale
1 13 1 May 1990 27 December 1990
2 12 18 February 1991 20 May 1991
3 13 5 November 1991 11 February 1992
4 19 20 October 1992 22 February 1993
5 16 9 September 1993 23 December 1993
6 14 6 January 1995 8 April 1995
7 7 2 September 1996 14 October 1996

DVD release[edit]

The seven series of The Upper Hand have been released in 2010 and 2011 by Network DVD.

DVD Year(s) Release date
The Complete Series 1 1990 18 January 2010
The Complete Series 2 1991 10 May 2010
The Complete Series 3 1991-
1992
19 July 2010
The Complete Series 4 1992-
1993
27 September 2010
The Complete Series 5 1993 25 October 2010
The Complete Series 6 1995 24 January 2011
The Complete Series 7 1996 20 June 2011
The Complete Series 1 to 7 1990-
1996
8 December 2014

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - The Upper Hand". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2015-04-18. 

External links[edit]