George and Mildred
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|George and Mildred|
George and Mildred title screen
|Created by||Brian Cooke
|Theme music composer||Series 1: Johnny Hawksworth
Series 2–5: Roger Webb
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||38|
|Running time||30 minutes
|Production company(s)||Thames Television|
|Original release||6 September 1976– 25 December 1979|
|Preceded by||Man About the House|
|Related shows||Robin's Nest
George and Mildred is a British sitcom that was produced by Thames Television that aired from 1976 to 1979. It was a spin-off from Man About the House and starred Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce as constantly sparring married couple, George and Mildred Roper. The premise of the series had George and Mildred leaving their flat as depicted in Man About the House and moving to a modern, upmarket housing estate. Their arrival horrifies their snobbish neighbour Jeffrey Fourmile, a middle-class estate agent who fears that the Ropers' presence will devalue his home.
It was written by Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer. Like many British sitcoms of the time, George and Mildred was also made into a film, which was dedicated to actress Yootha Joyce who died suddenly in August 1980, just as the cast were about to record a sixth series.
- Yootha Joyce - Mildred Roper
- Brian Murphy - George Roper
- Norman Eshley - Jeffrey Fourmile
- Sheila Fearn - Ann Fourmile
- Nicholas Bond-Owen - Tristram Fourmile
Recurring guest cast
- Avril Elgar - Ethel Pumphrey
- Reginald Marsh - Humphrey Pumphrey
- Gretchen Franklin - Mildred's Mother
- Roy Kinnear - Jerry
- Simon Lloyd - Tarquin Fourmile (from series 3)
George and Mildred Roper have left their old house after receiving a compulsory purchase order from the Council, and move to 46 Peacock Crescent in upmarket Hampton Wick. While Mildred enjoys the chance to better herself in her new surroundings, she is always being thwarted - usually by the lazy, inept and generally unemployed George, who has no interest in climbing the social ladder, and also continues to show a lack of interest in sexual relations with Mildred.
George and Mildred's next-door neighbours are Jeffrey Fourmile, a snobbish estate agent and his wife Ann. Ann and Mildred become good friends, but Jeffrey is frequently irritated by George, with their spats providing much of the show's humour. The Fourmiles have a young son, Tristram, who gets on well with George, much to the chagrin of Jeffrey (particularly because Jeffrey supports the Conservative Party, while George puts socialist ideas into Tristram's head). In series three Ann gives birth to a second child, Tarquin.
Mildred's snobbish sister Ethel and her rich husband Humphrey occasionally visit, as does Mildred's elderly mother. Having married wealth, Ethel enjoys trying to make Mildred feel inferior by showing off her latest car or fur coat, at which point Mildred often makes subtle digs at Ethel's age, or social status and pretensions. George however, is far less subtle. George's nefarious friend Jerry, a jack-of-all-trades and common swindler, also visits occasionally, much to Mildred's annoyance. Jerry is fond of referring to Mildred as "Mildew". Jerry is the only other character from Man About the House to reappear in this series.
In the first series, George buys Mildred a Yorkshire Terrier called Truffles after the Ropers are unable to adopt a child (Mildred later registers her with the kennel club as "Truffles duBorbon Fitzwilliam III).
Main article: List of George and Mildred Episodes
George Roper's 1933 Brough motorcycle combination shown to regular comic effect in the opening titles of series 2, 3 and 5 is now exhibited at the London Motorcycle Museum. It was also featured in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army.
During 1977, Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce, joined at one point by Reginald Marsh, toured in a successful stage version of the programme. In 1976 & 1977, Murphy and Joyce appeared as the ugly sisters, Georgina and Mildred, in the London Palladium pantomime, Cinderella.
Following the fifth series, a feature film version of the series was produced in 1980. The film was not written by Cooke and Mortimer but by Dick Sharples. The Fourmiles only played a small role in the film, which focused on George and Mildred celebrating their wedding anniversary, at Mildred's insistence, at an upmarket London hotel. It featured several guest stars including Stratford Johns, Kenneth Cope and Vicki Michelle. The film was neither a critical nor box office success. It was shown on ITV on Christmas Day 1980.
The final caption of the George and Mildred film read "The End - or is it the beginning?" It was to prove to be the former as Yootha Joyce died from portal cirrhosis of the liver due to chronic alcoholism on 24 August 1980, before the film was released. Friends and colleagues were unaware that Joyce had been habitually consuming half a bottle of brandy every day for over 10 years.
In 2004, on an audio commentary on the Australian Umbrella DVD release of George and Mildred: the Complete Series 2, Brian Murphy revealed that there had been plans for a sixth series of eight episodes of the show. These were to have been recorded in late 1980. Murphy also revealed that this was due to have been the final series of George and Mildred, as he and Yootha Joyce were afraid of being typecast after playing the characters since 1973 on television and in two films. However, despite scripts being written, Joyce's hospitalisation and subsequent death brought a premature end to the show. Her funeral took place on the day the cast were due to begin rehearsals for the new series. Speaking of their relationship in a 2001 ITV programme, The Unforgettable Yootha Joyce, Murphy said that when they had first met at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop he had, "always regarded Yootha as very stylish and very confident. I was rather over-awed by her at first, full of admiration for her. "At her death, "People said, 'You've lost a working partner' and I said, 'No, I've lost a chum'... and then I realised I've lost my working partnership as well...".
Thames Television did consider producing a spin-off for the character of George, looking at him cope with life as a widower. However, this project did not materialise, though Brian Murphy did reunite with George and Mildred co-star Roy Kinnear and writers Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke for The Incredible Mr. Tanner, a comedy produced by Thames Television in 1981.
"Man About the House - George and Mildred: The Definitive Companion" by Tex Fisher was published on 1 July 2010. The book includes contributions from many of the original cast, including Brian Murphy, Paula Wilcox, Sally Thomsett and Nicholas Bond-Owen. It explains the background and history of both programmes, together with an episode and film guide, full cast biographies, details of the stage play, full catalogue of support cast, and a 1970s Phrase Dictionary. ISBN 978-0-9565634-0-8. The book is published by Deck Chair Publishing.
The first DVD of George and Mildred was released by Clear Vision in the UK in 2001, featuring six episodes of series one (four episodes of the first series were omitted). The DVD was criticised for poor image quality and changes to the original captions.
The George and Mildred movie was released on DVD in 2003.
The entire first series was released by Network DVD in Region 2 (UK) in 2005 with superior image quality and unedited captions. The second, third and fourth series were released in 2006. The fifth and final series was released in 2007.
In 2009, Fremantle Media re-released DVDs of each of the five series. In 2011, Fremantle once again re-released all five series, and a complete box set is available.
In Australia, the first series was released by Umbrella in May 2003. Unlike the Clear Vision release of Series 1, all ten episodes were included, as were the original advertising captions, the Thames TV idents at the start and original end boards. A DVD of Series 2 was released in March 2004. A DVD of the movie was released in the same year. Unlike the UK Network release of Series 2, the Australian version contained some audio commentaries with series star Brian Murphy. Series 3, 4 and 5 were released in Australia on DVD in 2008.
- Julian Upton, "Carry on Sitcom: The British Sitcom Spin-off Film 1968-1980", Bright Lights Film Journal, no. 35, January 2002.