Cradle to Grave

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Cradle to Grave
Based onGoing to Sea in a Sieve
by Danny Baker
Written byJeff Pope
Danny Baker
Directed bySandy Johnson
StarringLaurie Kynaston
Peter Kay
Lucy Speed
Frankie Wilson
Alice Sykes
Theme music composerCradle to the Grave by Squeeze
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series1
No. of episodes8
Executive producerDanny Baker
ProducerKate Crowther
Running time30 mins
Production companyITV Studios
Original networkBBC Two
Picture format16:9
Original release3 September (2015-09-03) –
15 October 2015 (2015-10-15)

Cradle to Grave is a British sitcom set around the life of Danny Baker. It began airing on 3 September 2015.[1] The sitcom stars Laurie Kynaston as Danny Baker, Peter Kay, and actress Lucy Speed as Danny Baker's parents.


It is 1973 and 15-year-old Danny is our guide through the ups and downs of life with the Baker family. Dad Fred, nicknamed 'Spud', is a proud South London docker with a penchant for schemes. Wife Bet loves him but longs for the family to go 'straight' and do daft things like pay taxes and put money in the electricity meter instead of always trying to scam it. With eldest daughter Sharon's wedding looming, the docks facing closure, and a switch to the dreaded 'containerisation', which will put thousands of dockers out of work, times are challenging. So, too, are Danny's attempts to get closer to the opposite sex.

With an accompanying soundtrack combining songs from the era with material from Squeeze's Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, Cradle to Grave is based on actual events and characters.


  • Laurie Kynaston as Danny Baker – Spud and Bet's youngest child and son and Michael and Sharon's younger brother. In the fifth episode, Danny leaves school so he can have a relationship with the school's photography teacher Miss Blondel.
  • Peter Kay as Fred "Spud" Baker – Bet's husband and Danny, Michael and Sharon's father. He works as a docker but also sells the things he stocks to earn money. He has been described as "a real life Del Boy". In the fifth episode of the series, his middle name is revealed to be Joseph.
  • Lucy Speed as Bet Baker – Spud's wife and Danny, Michael and Sharon's mother.
  • Frankie Wilson as Michael Baker – Spud and Bet's oldest son and middle child, Danny (with whom he shares a bedroom) and Sharon's brother.
  • Alice Sykes as Sharon Baker – Spud and Bet's eldest child and only daughter and Danny and Michael's sister. In the third episode of the series, she becomes engaged to her boyfriend Roger.
  • Julie Dray as Miss Blondel – Danny's French photography teacher.
  • Alexa Davies as Yvonne – Danny's girlfriend


The series is based on Danny Baker's autobiography Going to Sea in a Sieve, covering Baker's life in south London during the 1970s.[2] A second series was commissioned, but delayed after Peter Kay's cancellation of work plans for family reasons,[3] and seemingly subsequently not written.


Sean O'Grady of The Independent criticised the accents as "a load of old pony".[4] Jasper Rees of The Daily Telegraph was more positive, describing it as "niftily scripted" and a "savvy, up-to-the-minute comedy" despite its 1970s setting, and "a lot closer to the knuckle – and far funnier – than anything in, say, The Liver Birds or The Likely Lads".[5] Chortle's Steve Bennett was positive about the cast and soundtrack, and described the first episode as "frequently funny, with an episodic structure that delivers wry character-led laughs with the regularity of a sketch show", but noted that it lacked "a consistent tone or strong narrative"[6] whilst Euan Ferguson of The Guardian described it as "enjoyable, but little more".[7]

Episode list[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewers
11"Episode 1"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope3 September 2015 (2015-09-03)3.33
Spud's money making schemes end up giving him a nasty shock, whilst a trip to the theatre has an equally surprising outcome for Danny.
12"Episode 2"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope10 September 2015 (2015-09-10)2.83
Bet's yearning to broaden her horizons takes her and Spud to unusual places, whilst Danny tries some exploration of his own after an enlightening sex education lesson.
13"Episode 3"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope17 September 2015 (2015-09-17)2.46
Whilst doors are closing for Spud and the dockers, with old scams like Fat Man and Cat in a Box no longer working, Danny witnesses the dawn of a new era with the advent of home-taping and VCRs.
14"Episode 4"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope24 September 2015 (2015-09-24)2.38
Whilst Spud wonders how to make his daughter's wedding dreams come true, Danny's loyalty to the school football team is tested.
15"Episode 5"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope1 October 2015 (2015-10-01)2.26
Danny finally gets to enter the dark room with Miss Blondel but there is no passion, leading to extreme measures (such as leaving school without telling his parents) to date her. His father takes voluntary redundancy from the docks to become a rag and bone man but for once his efforts to earn a little money on the side do not succeed.
16"Episode 6"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope8 October 2015 (2015-10-08)2.11
Fred persuades Shaky Young, an escaped convict who has been hiding in his sister's loft for fourteen months (despite having only three left to serve) to attend his brother's funeral as Fred sees a financial opportunity for himself in it. Bet befriends a lonely co-worker whose wife has left him whilst Danny's night of passion with Miss Blondel is thwarted when brother Michael brings home a live hand grenade.
17"Episode 7"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope15 October 2015 (2015-10-15)2.15
Rejected by Miss Blondel, Danny hopes to make ex-girlfriend Yvonne jealous by posing as singer David Essex's brother, but still keeps his secret from his parents whilst Fred lands a job as a commissionaire at an office block but quits after a day and, high on LSD brother, Michael nearly puts his eye out and ends up in hospital. With all this to contend with no wonder Bet decides to walk out and go fishing with work colleague Keith.
18"Episode 8"Sandy JohnsonDanny Baker & Jeff Pope15 October 2015 (2015-10-15)1.98
Bet is back home but refusing to talk to Fred and gets a call from Keith, suggesting she runs away with him. At Sharon's wedding reception, Bet recalls her courtship and early married life with Fred and her growing awareness of his dodgy deals, which land him in jail. However, after paying for a lavish honeymoon for Sharon, Fred knows just how to win Bet back whilst Danny discovers that he only needs to be himself to impress Yvonne.


  1. ^ Reported by the Daily Mirror newspaper.
  2. ^ "Watch Peter Kay play Danny Baker's dad in the trailer for Cradle to Grave". The Guardian. 19 August 2015.
  3. ^ Anderton, Joe. "BBC Two's Cradle to Grave "is in limbo" due to Peter Kay's family commitment". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Cradle to Grave, TV review: The cockney accents are a load of pony in this south London caper". Independent. 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ Rees, Jasper (3 September 2015). "Cradle to Grave, BBC Two, review: 'savvy comedy'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  6. ^ Bennett, Steve (3 September 2015). "Cradle To Grave". Chortle. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  7. ^ Ferguson, Euan (6 September 2015). "The week in TV: Danny and the Human Zoo, The Trials of Jimmy Rose, Cradle to Grave, An Evening with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.

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