Waiting for God (TV series)

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Waiting for God
Front view of large English manor home with large lawn, with text "Waiting for God" superimposed
Series title card
Created by Michael Aitkens
Starring Stephanie Cole
Graham Crowden
Daniel Hill
Janine Duvitski
Country of origin UK
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 47
Production
Running time 46x30 minutes
1x45 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Original run 28 June 1990 (1990-06-28)  – 27 October 1994 (1994-10-27)

Waiting for God is a British sitcom that ran on BBC1 from 1990 to 1994 starring Graham Crowden as Tom and Stephanie Cole as Diana, two spirited residents of a retirement home who spend their time running rings around the home's oppressive management and their own families. It was written by Michael Aitkens.

The show became very successful, running for five series.[1] The programme is still repeated in the UK on various channels. Series one to five have run (and in some cases continue to run) on PBS in the United States, and in New Zealand the show has aired various times since 2002.

Cast[edit]

Diana Trent (Stephanie Cole) - a curmudgeonly old woman who constantly complains about the state of the world and the way the elderly are treated. If someone tries to insult her, she sees it as a compliment because she sees it as being the only way to stay alive. A constant thorn in Bayview manager Harvey's side, Diana often irritates those around her with her bleak outlook, and admits it is the only thing that keeps her going; however, it is borne out a genuine sense of right and wrong, and she can be ferocious when protecting those she cares about (particularly Tom and her niece Sarah). Diana is a retired photojournalist, having specialised in combat zones, with the things she has seen contributing to her pessimistic world view. She also takes great pleasure in making other people's lives miserable, with stunts such as "stealing" her niece's red Porsche. Although Diana is a pensioner, Cole was just 48 when she took the role.[2]

Tom Ballard (Graham Crowden) - an optimistic, jolly old man; in many ways the polar opposite of Diana. However, he shares her sense of justice (and her enjoyment of troublemaking) and the two become good friends (but often with an uneasy relationship). Tom suffers from mild dementia and frequently takes imaginary trips to other places (mentally checking out of the retirement home), telling tall tales of his exploits, often involving celebrities. His dull son Geoffrey and Geoffrey's annoying, offensive wife Marion (who have a financial stake in Bayview) often visit him, despite Marion's reluctance.

Jane Edwards (Janine Duvitski) - Harvey's prudish, homely and devout assistant who always looks on the bright side of life, despite Diana's constant attempts to bring her down to earth. She often thinks up new ideas for the home, often backed up by Tom, and whilst Diana is irritated by Jane much of the time, she recognises the good in her and more than once protects her from Harvey's attempts to get rid of her. Jane has an unrequited passion for Harvey, whom she often touches on the shoulder, to which Harvey replies disgustedly, 'Jane... you're touching me'. She is often shocked by what Diana says, with 'Oh Diana!!' becoming something of a catchphrase. A sensitive person, she often ends up running away in tears if anyone mentions anything about Harvey having a relationship with someone other than her or her never getting married.

Harvey Bains (Daniel Hill) - The greedy, vain manager of Bayview who constantly tries to cut costs, with the money saved usually going into his own pocket. He complains that the "oldies" aren't "efficient units" and would happily get rid of them all - especially Diana, who constantly thwarts his budget-slashing schemes. Although constantly pursued by Jane, Harvey is largely oblivious to this (or else ignores it), preferring the idea of a more glamorous female companion. His father, whom he never knew, was an American gangster.

Geoffrey Ballard (Andrew Tourell) - Tom's good-hearted but incredibly dull son, whose chief interests in life are DIY and real ale. He is a successful businessman, but his personal life is a disaster - he feels trapped in his marriage to the often vicious Marion, and will sometimes use his father as a sounding board. Geoffrey is frequently insulted by Diana, but is usually too meek to stand up to her, and largely tolerates her behaviour because of her affection for Tom.

Marion Ballard (Sandra Payne) - Geoffrey's pill-popping, gin-swilling wife; a generally unpleasant woman who sees Tom purely as a financial burden. She is unfaithful to Geoffrey more than once, and uses alcohol and tranquilisers to escape from her financially secure but unexciting life. If she sees an opportunity to kiss another man, even if Geoffrey is around, she will do it. Marion later leaves Geoffrey for New Age philosophies but doesn't last very long.

Minor characters[edit]

Basil Makepeace (Michael Bilton) - An elderly but very randy man who spends most of his time trying to seduce the female residents. He also boasts about his sexual conquests and isn't shy about attempting to kiss women 60 years younger than himself, even though he isn't very successful in this area. He has a girlfriend who he doesn't marry, even though she wants to marry him. He also doesn't want to give up his crown as the resident sex symbol of Bayview.

Jenny (Dawn Hope) - A care worker at the home who, unlike Jane, sees through Harvey's dodgy ways, and often agrees with Diana's protests against the Bayview regime.

Antonio (Chico Andrade) - A Portuguese gardener, often berated by Diana for his lack of skill. Diana normally speaks to him in pidgin French due to her inability to speak Portuguese (despite the fact that Antonio shows no sign of understanding French).

Sarah (Lucy Aston) - Diana's niece. Diana usually feigns indifference to Sarah, but it is obvious that deep down she cares very much for her. When Sarah has a child, the child is the apple of Diana's eye. Sarah calls Diana "Aunty." Diana hates the term and says, "Don't call me Aunty."

Plot[edit]

Set at the fictional Bayview Retirement Home near Bournemouth, the show was based around Diana Trent and her relationship with Tom Ballard, a former accountant with semi-feigned dementia. He has been exiled there for the convenience of his family.

Diana is a cynical, retired photojournalist who has found herself consigned to the retirement home after a career documenting some of the 20th century's most dangerous events has left her single and with no one in her life outside of her niece, and later, her great-niece. Her frustration at the prospect of years of being alternately patronised and ignored at Bayview is soon channelled into attempts to subvert the régime of the retirement home and taunting the staff regarding their flaws and corrupt nature. Though retired, Diana remains connected with several powerful journalists, which she uses to blackmail the board of directors at Bayview (and Bayview manager Harvey Baines) to stay in Bayview despite her anti-social behaviour. Her only known living relatives are her niece Sarah and later, Sarah's daughter Diana. Sarah runs a modelling agency and loves Diana, though Diana is emotionally distant from her niece, going so far as to tell people that her niece runs a prostitution ring and constantly attempts to kill her with poison. As the series progresses, the two become closer after Sarah undergoes a whirlwind courtship and marriage that results in pregnancy; the marriage fails but produces "the Diana of the Future," as the new Great-Aunt Diana blesses the newborn. Just before Baby Diana arrives, the great-aunt-to-be reveals that much of her hostility towards the world stems from the fact that she's infertile; this incapability is one of her very few regrets in life.

Ballard is a kindly but deluded old duffer who frequently lives in a fantasy world following his retirement as an accountant. A widower for at least a decade, his increasingly eccentric behaviour leads his alcoholic and adulterous daughter-in-law Marion and henpecked son Geoffrey to move him into Bayview where he finds himself living next door to Diana. The two form an unlikely partnership and discover that they are able to wreak havoc amongst the younger staff and management in the home in order to create a more tolerable living environment for themselves and their fellow residents. Tom's optimistic, cheery demeanour and unencumbered Anglican Christianity contrast Diana's dark cynicism and avowed atheism, as both attempt to influence the other's world view.

The manager of Bayview is Harvey Baines who runs the establishment with his assistant, the homely, spinsterish and pious Jane Edwards. Baines is a penny-pinching weasel whose management style involves trying to run the retirement home profitably while keeping the residents (whom he variously dubs "oldies", "inmates", or "units") passive in order to make himself look good before the eyes of the board of directors.

Both Tom and Diana refer to Baines as "the idiot Baines", a reference to Harvey's general lack of common sense regarding his various schemes to promote himself and Bayview to the outside world.

Jane, Harvey's put-upon assistant, is a naïve and religious woman who is madly in love with Harvey, in spite of Harvey's utter disdain for her. Jane serves as a foil for Diana; although Diana loathes Jane's religious piety and optimistic outlook on life, she seems to genuinely care about Jane's wellbeing, as evidenced by her and Tom's attempts to help Jane when it comes to the matter of dealing with Harvey's manipulation of Jane's love for him.

During the third series, Tom and Diana get together as a couple after a one-night stand, though Diana is far more casual about the new state of their relationship, much to the chagrin of Tom, who wants a committed relationship. In season four, Diana's financial situation collapses and Tom discovers that his room is infested with mould. Tom forces Harvey to upgrade him to a new apartment in Bayview and allow Diana to live with him as his lady friend. By series five, the two become engaged along with Harvey and Jane, who first get together as part of a cynical scheme to get Harvey accepted into an exclusive country club. When the plan fails, and Jane responds by quitting her job to begin the process of becoming a nun, Harvey realises that he has come to enjoy Jane being in his life and the two go through with their vows. But Diana gets cold feet regarding her impending marriage to Tom (much to her niece Sarah's shock). Tom discovers this before the wedding and saves Diana from having to either go through with the wedding or have her niece sever all ties with her aunt, by calling off the wedding just as the two were about to say "I Do".

Much of the humour is derived from flying in the face of conventional expectations about how the elderly ought to behave in their old age and how many of the residents don't want to settle down. One character, Basil Makepeace, is forever propositioning the female residents of the home, bragging about his innumerable conquests (on one occasion he muses about the indignities of growing old, commenting that now "three or four times...a night is all I can manage"). As an octogenarian, he does quite well. The other source of humour comes from the lengths that Harvey Baines will go to in his quest for success and how he and Marion scheme to separate Tom and Diana, the two blights on their mutual existences. The series is also unusual in that it is told largely from the vantage point of the (largely well adjusted) elderly characters, with most of the younger characters depicted as buffoons, who are either neurotic or inept.

Location[edit]

Most exterior scenes at the retirement home were filmed at and around the Oaken Holt Rest Home in Farmoor, Oxfordshire, England.[3] 51°45′31″N 1°20′00″W / 51.75861°N 1.33333°W / 51.75861; -1.33333

Although the script of the series makes great play of its Bournemouth setting, the location filming for the first three series was largely carried out in and around Brighton and Worthing. The first genuine appearance of Bournemouth town centre and the nearby suburb of Boscombe is in the 1992 Christmas special.

Music[edit]

Waiting for God's theme music is from the middle of the fifth movement of Schubert's Trout Quintet, when the first theme is recapitulated in E, performed by the Nash Ensemble. Other music heard in the show included the 3rd movement, also performed by the Nash Ensemble.

Derived work[edit]

It was announced in 2013 that series creator Michael Aitken would be staging a play, Heaven Forbid!, based on Waiting for God, at The Hawaii Theatre, starring Patty Duke and actor and TV newscaster Joe Moore.[4][5]

Episodes (with original air date and title)[edit]

Sequence number Original airdate Episode title
Series 1
1
28 June 1990
Welcome to Bayview
2
5 July 1990
A Trip to Brighton
3
12 July 1990
Cheering Up Tom
4
19 July 1990
The Christening
5
26 July 1990
Fraulein Mueller
6
2 August 1990
The Psychiatrist
7
9 August 1990
The Helicopter
Series 2
8
5 September 1991
Counselling for the Dying
9
12 September 1991
The Partition
10
19 September 1991
Daisy Takes Charge
11
26 September 1991
The Thief
12
3 October 1991
Tell the Truth
13
10 October 1991
The Hip Operation
14
17 October 1991
Glamorous Grannies
15
24 October 1991
Foreign Workers
16
31 October 1991
Young People
17
7 November 1991
The Boring Son
Series 3
18
10 September 1992
The Funeral
19
17 September 1992
Two Nasty Children
20
24 September 1992
Looking for Work
21
1 October 1992
Harvey's Fiancee
22
8 October 1992
The Estate Agent
23
15 October 1992
Scandal
24
22 October 1992
Sabotage
25
29 October 1992
Politics
26
5 November 1992
Sleeping Pills
27
12 November 1992
Great Aunt Diana
Special
28
23 December 1992
Christmas at Bayview
Series 4
29
9 September 1993
Financial Difficulties
30
16 September 1993
Living Together
31
23 September 1993
Living in Miserable Sin
32
30 September 1993
Shelves
33
7 October 1993
The Seance
34
14 October 1993
The Promotional Video
35
21 October 1993
Adult Education
36
28 October 1993
Sent to Coventry
37
4 November 1993
Waterworks
38
11 November 1993
The Conference
Special
39
22 December 1993
Another Christmas at Bayview
Series 5
40
8 September 1994
After the Operation
41
15 September 1994
The Bayview Conservation Society
42
22 September 1994
After A Royal Visit?
43
29 September 1994
Diana's Diet
44
6 October 1994
Trouble with Men
45
13 October 1994
Harvey the Priest
46
20 October 1994
Bungee Jumping
47
27 October 1994
A Double Wedding

References[edit]

  1. ^ Waiting for God. BBC Comedy website. "Very quietly, Waiting For God became a huge success..."
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0170789/?ref_=sr_2
  3. ^ Location Details TV Comedy Resources. Retrieved January 2009
  4. ^ "HECO Breaks Wind | Realistic Budgets | Wal*Mart Downtown? | Nominate a Small Business". Hawaii Reporter. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  5. ^ "Patty Duke and Joe Moore to Star in Heaven Forbid! to Support Historic Hawaii Theatre" (Press release). Hitting the Stage. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 

UKTV And Circle 2008 2012

External links[edit]