List of Goodnight Sweetheart characters

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This is a list of characters from Goodnight Sweetheart, a BBC sitcom that ran for six series from 1993 and 1999. It starred Nicholas Lyndhurst as the accidental time traveller Gary Sparrow, who leads a double life after discovering a time portal allowing him to travel from the 1990s to a war-torn London. The show was created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, also creators of other hits such as Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman. The creators wrote the first series, episodes after which were written by a team of writers, including Marks and Gran.

Gary Sparrow[edit]

During a service call out to a part of the East End he is not familiar with, Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst), a TV repairman living an ordinary life in 1990s Cricklewood, unknowingly walks through a time portal to 1940s London. He does not realise what has happened at first and simply thinks he is lost. He wanders into a local public house (The Royal Oak) which, he decides must be a World War II theme pub; however, after an air raid, he realises the truth.

Upon discovering he can return to the future, Gary uses his time travelling ability to flit between the past and the present. He starts a cross-time romance with Royal Oak landlady, Phoebe Bamford, while still living his regular life in the 1990s with wife Yvonne. Neither Yvonne nor Phoebe know that Gary is a time traveller (or an adulterer). Gary's only confidant is his modern day best friend and printer, Ron Wheatcroft. Ron is able to replicate items that Gary needs to get by in the past (such as period money and ration cards) and to help him present 'cover stories' to Yvonne, though he performs the latter rather unwillingly.

Gary exploits his obvious advantage as a person from the future by claiming to be a 'secret agent' with 'classified' information pertaining to the war. He also plays well-known songs on the piano that post-date his 1940s audience (for example; Beatles songs) and then claims he wrote them.

Eventually, both Phoebe and Yvonne are pregnant at the same time (from Gary's point of view), making Gary's juggling of past and present lives even more complex. While Yvonne's pregnancy ends in miscarriage, Phoebe goes on to have a son they name Michael. During the pregnancy, Gary and Phoebe get married.

In his conversations with Ron, Gary rationalises that he is not a bigamist, even though he is married to two different women: since Yvonne was not born yet during World War II (when Gary is married to Phoebe), and since Phoebe appears to have died at some point before the present (when Gary is married to Yvonne), Gary considers himself faithful to both wives. He argues that 'my wives exist in different temporal aspects of a four-dimensional space-time continuum' although Ron considers this to be a 'typical bigamist’s excuse'.

As the series progresses, Gary finds himself in increasingly complex time travel scenarios, for example; in one episode, he uses the time portal for what he assumes will be a routine trip back to the 40s, however, is surprised to find that he has actually gone back to the Victorian era. While there, a policeman tries to frame him for the murders committed by Jack the Ripper. After being chased down the street by rampaging locals, he manages to escape back into modern times.

Later episodes in the series found both of Gary's wives gaining notable success. In the present, Yvonne became a millionaire through the beauty-aids business she founded. In the past, Gary and Phoebe moved to a "posh" part of town and Phoebe became a night-club singer, as she and Gary became acquainted with Noël Coward. However, despite the glamorous turn of events, the subject of marital disintegration was still a prominent theme of the show, culminating in Gary being made to face the question of which wife he ultimately loved the most.

At the end of the final series, Gary prevents an assassination attempt on future Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, which leads to the time portal closing, giving him no choice but to remain in the 1940s. He paints a final message to Ron and Yvonne on the same Mayfair flat wall that Ron will one day strip old wallpaper from, and discover.

Yvonne Sparrow[edit]

Yvonne (Michelle Holmes series one to three, Emma Amos four to six) is the long-suffering wife of Gary Sparrow: a time traveller and cross-time adulterer (later bigamist). It is not until the final episode of the series that Yvonne is made aware that Gary is a time traveller to war-torn 1940s London, and that he has a wife and child back in the past.

Throughout the series, Yvonne is led to believe that Gary is travelling about the country searching out antiques for his memorabilia shop, however in reality, he is making numerous trips back to the 1940s via a time portal he accidentally stumbled across one day while out on a TV repair job.

Yvonne is the stereotypical 1990s "power woman": corporate minded yet socially and environmentally aware. She eventually starts her own enormously successful natural beauty-aids business, although this does little to lessen her sense of insecurity about her husband Gary, who always seems to be absent and uncommitted to her needs. Yvonne's birthday is suggested to be in March or April as she said "my birthday isn't for five months" and the month was November as Ron thought Gary was organising a surprise Guy Fawkes party as mentioned in the series 1 episode "The more I see you."

Phoebe Bamford[edit]

Phoebe Sparrow (née Elward; previously Bamford) (Dervla Kirwan series one to three, Elizabeth Carling four to six) is a 1940s barmaid who becomes the girlfriend and eventually the wife of 1990s time traveller, Gary Sparrow. Throughout the series, Phoebe is unaware that Gary is both a time traveller and an adulterer (later a bigamist).

Phoebe works at the Royal Oak: an East End public house owned by her father, Eric. She is married to a serving British soldier (Donald Bamford, who appears in two episodes) although early in the series she reveals to Gary that it is a mutually loveless marriage made for convenience only. Eric takes a quick disliking to Gary; not only is he suspicious of his motives, but as Phoebe is married to a serving British soldier, Gary looks like a slacker by comparison. When Donald returns (briefly) in series 3 it is implied that he had a lover called Steve who was killed in action.

Gary is able to supply Phoebe with items considered luxurious by World War II ration standards (such as chocolate, wine and stockings) and often uses these items as consolation gifts for his constant absences (which he claims are due to "secret war work" but are really when he returns to the 90s and to his wife, Yvonne). Though she eventually tires of his excuses and will not accept the gifts as readily, initially, Phoebe is impressed by what she perceives as Gary's glamorous lifestyle. Gary takes her to a VIP cocktail party and to dinner at the Savoy Hotel, however, Phoebe's father is quick to remind her that she is a "married woman"" whenever Gary visits.

At the end of the first series, Gary decides not to return to the 1940s. However, when the second series begins, Gary's modern day best friend (and confidant) Ron Wheatcroft persuades him to go back in time to invest some money so that they will be rich in the 1990s. This scheme fails, but while there, he accidentally meets Phoebe and rekindles their relationship. Phoebe's father has died in an air raid, and her husband has been imprisoned in a POW camp; Gary's emotional and business support to her advances his prospects with her.

Eventually Gary and Phoebe marry and have a son they call Michael. She and Gary move to a "posh" part of town and Phoebe becomes a night-club singer, as she and Gary became acquainted with Noël Coward. Yvonne, too, is notably successful, starting her own million pound beauty aids business. However, despite the glamorous turn of events, both wives remain unaware of Gary's time-travelling or bigamy, and both continue to demand explanations as to why he is away all the time.

At the end of the final series, Gary prevents an assassination attempt on future Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, which leads to the time portal closing, giving him no choice but to remain in the 1940s. He paints a final message to Ron and Yvonne on the same Mayfair flat wall that Ron will one day strip old wallpaper from and discover, and thus, as far as we know, Yvonne is the only wife who ever learns of both Gary's time-travelling, and his bigamy.

Ron Wheatcroft[edit]

Ron (Victor McGuire) is the best friend and confidante of main character and adulturer (later bigamist) Gary Sparrow. As a Master Printer with his own business Ron is able to provide Gary with appropriate war time currency and documentation.

Ron's fortunes dwindle as the show progresses. In the earlier series he is married to Stella Nimmy March[1] (a character who made few on-screen appearances) but the marriage ends in series 4. In addition he is forced to sell his business (although he remains at the company as an employee, working for Mrs. Flanagan (Pippa Haywood[2]) who has a cameo appearance.). In addition due to his "playboy lifestyle" his flat and possessions are repossessed after the bank declines to extend his overdraft. His fortunes improve however when he moves into the West End flat which Gary has purchased for himself in the past. He even starts having a relationship with the wealthy socialite Flic (Sonya Walger[3]) (the relationship however only lasts a few months).

Gary and Ron has a co-dependent friendship; without Ron, Gary has no-one to aid him with his time-travelling problems, or to confide in and Ron does not appear to have any friends other than Gary.

Although a Liverpudlian, Ron is shown wearing Manchester United kit during series 5.episode 1.

Reg Deadman[edit]

Born in 1901, Reg Deadman (Christopher Ettridge) is a lovably daft East End policeman and close friend to Phoebe and her father, Eric. Reg was a regular patron of the Royal Oak and was eventually employed by Phoebe to help her run the pub when her father died. Reg's apparent lack of intelligence was used as a running joke throughout the series, ensuring he remained a comic foil for Gary and Phoebe; one notable example is their frequent incredulous one-liners in response to Reg's lack of knowledge of sex, made all the more comedic by his many unwittingly graphic references to the exploits of his adulterous wife, Minnie. Despite this apparent sexual naivete though, Gary is eventually able to introduce Reg to a small son he never knew he had, Frankie, whom it turns out is the progeny of Reg's affair with a bus conductress named Margie.

Reg pretty much takes Gary Sparrow at his word when he says he is a World War II "secret agent" and Hollywood songwriter. Reg and Gary eventually become good friends, with Reg never seeming to catch on that there was something genuinely odd about his new pal.

Like Ron and Yvonne, Reg has relatives who interact with Gary in his travels through time, and in fact, he is the only regular 1940s character to have a descendant of his shown in the 1990s (Ron's Grandfather Albert Wheatcroft is seen in one episode). It was actually Reg's 1990s policeman grandson that was responsible for Gary discovering the time portal; it was he who directed Gary down Duckett's Passage in the first episode. This character interacts with Gary and Yvonne occasionally.

Gary also interacts with one of Reg's relatives during the one instance he travelled back to the 1880s. This relative is shown to be much smarter than Reg (perhaps even smarter than Gary), adorned with mutton chops, and aggressively yet cynically on the trail of Jack the Ripper.

In one episode it is revealed that Reg is still alive in the 1990s, but living in a care home, where he suffers from dementia.

He has 11 middle names, due to his father naming him after the entire Tottenham Hotspur F.C. team who had just won the 1901 F.A. Cup before he was born, however, at one point in Series Two, he gives his name as 'Reginald Horatio Deadman', revealing a minor continuity discrepancy or that Reg had been joking about his middle names.

Eric Elward[edit]

Eric (played by David Ryall) is Phoebe's father and a staunch supporter of his king and country. He has fought in World War I and went "over the top" in the notorious Battle of the Somme. At first, Eric is certain Gary is a German spy, but withdraws the accusation when he is knocked out by his till tray and Gary revives him with the kiss of life. For a while, Gary and Eric are on good terms, but Eric never appears to lose his underlying suspicion of Gary and is quick to remind Phoebe that she is still married to a serving British soldier whenever Gary visits. When Eric is eventually killed in a bombing, Gary is able to pursue his courtship of Phoebe with far less impediment than previously.

Michael Sparrow (Phoebe and Gary's son)[edit]

Michael is the son of Phoebe and Gary who is born at the end of Series 4. When first learning of Phoebe's pregnancy, Gary complains to Ron that there is "no bright side" as his child will actually be twenty years older than he is. Michael is in his fifties when in one episode, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", we see him in the present day. He unwittingly visited Gary's Blitz and Pieces shop and appears to be poverty stricken. Eventually, Gary remedies the situation by setting up a trust-fund for Michael in the 1940s.

(Gary's son as an adult was played by Ian Lavender,[4] most famous as Pike in another Second World War-set sitcom, Dad's Army)

Ellie[edit]

Ellie is the delinquent teenage daughter of Gary and Yvonne. She appears in the 2016 Special played by Esme Coy, the real-life daughter of Emma Amos. Gary and Ellie are unaware of each other's existence, as Yvonne only found out she was pregnant after Gary had become trapped in the past. She has never revealed Gary's identity to her and insists Gary keeps the secret. Despite this, Ellie feels a connection to Gary and is interested in meeting him again.

References[edit]