Goodnight Sweetheart (TV series)
|Created by||Laurence Marks|
|Developed by||Alomo Productions|
|Directed by||Terry Kinane|
|Theme music composer||Ray Noble|
|Opening theme||"Goodnight Sweetheart"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||59 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Claire Hinson|
|Production location(s)||London, England|
|Running time||30–45 mins|
|Original network||BBC 1|
|Picture format||576i (4:3 SDTV)|
1080i (16:9 HDTV)
|Original release||Original Series:|
18 November 1993 –
28 June 1999
2 September 2016
Goodnight Sweetheart is a British science fiction time travel sitcom, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst, created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, and produced by the BBC. The sitcom focuses on the life of Gary Sparrow, an accidental time traveller who leads a double life through the use of a time portal, which allows him to travel between the London of the 1990s and the London of the 1940s during the Second World War. The sitcom's creators, who also created Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman, wrote most of the plots for the episodes.
The sitcom premiered on BBC One in 18 November 1993, and ran for six series until its conclusion on 28 June 1999, with subsequent repeats after this date being aired on ITV3, Gold, Drama, Yesterday and Forces TV on Sky Digital. Lyndhurst's involvement in the sitcom allowed him to win the Most Popular Comedy Performer at the National Television Awards twice in 1998 and 1999. On 2 September 2016, the sitcom received a one-off special entitled Many Happy Returns, focused on events after the final episode. The sitcom itself later received a musical in 2017, while plans for a future sequel by Marks and Gran remain active as of 2019.
Goodnight Sweetheart focuses on the life of Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst). In 1993, Gary works as a TV repairman, who struggles with his life and the marriage to his ambitious wife Yvonne, while being best friends with Ron Wheatcroft, a printer whose marriage is on the brink of breakdown. On attending a TV repair call-out in London's East End, Gary accidentally discovers a time portal at Duckett's Passage, which leads to war time London. The incident leads him to encountering Phoebe Bamford, a pretty barmaid who works in the "Royal Oak" pub, her father Eric who runs the pub, and Reg Deadman, a dim-witted but friendly policeman. The meeting with Phoebe leads Gary to strike up a relationship with her, and upon finding he can use the time portal to travel between this time period and the present, uses it to continue seeing Phoebe. To ensure his visits don't interfere with history, Gary brings in assistance from Ron as a confidant, not only to aid him with problems, but also to supply him with 1940s five-pound notes and ID documents.
Gary finds himself soon leading a double life as a result of using the time portal. When visiting Phoebe, he explains his absences through working as a secret agent, using his knowledge of future wartime events to his advantage in the deception, while also claiming to be a singer-songwriter, passing off modern-day pop songs as his own, and supplying many items from the present that were rationed in wartime Britain. When with Yvonne, Gary initially claims his absences to be major call-outs for his work, but after quitting his job in 1995 to buy and run a shop called "Blitz and Pieces" – selling goods he acquires in the 1940s as rare memorabilia, to maintain access to the time portal in the present – he uses it to lie that he has to be absent to conduct buying trips for stock.
Over the next five years, life for Gary is further complicated by his relationship to the two women. Phoebe eventually takes over the running of the Royal Oak, later marrying Gary, despite him knowingly committing bigamy. The pair's marriage results in them having a son, before moving into a luxury flat in Mayfair, with Reg becoming a doorman in their building after retiring from the police. Although Yvonne becomes pregnant, only to suffer a miscarriage in the process, she later manages to become a success with her organic beauty products, opening a company and transforming into a millionaire, allowing her and Gary to own a luxury apartment. In addition, Ron later faces a divorce, losing both his home and control of his printing company, adding to Gary's problems, who eventually allows him to have the lease for his Mayfair flat in the present. During his time in the past, Gary has encounters with several historical figures of the period, including Winston Churchill, George Formby, and Noël Coward, while also dealing with some of the peculiar effects of time travel during various trips.
Goodnight Sweetheart eventually comes to its conclusion when the war in Europe comes to its conclusion on VE Day. By this time, Yvonne becomes suspicious of Gary's reasons for being absent and discovers him using the time portal. However, Gary becomes trapped in the past when the portal closes, following his actions in protecting Clement Attlee from an assassination attempt. Deciding to stay with Phoebe and their son, he leaves a message on the wall of his Mayfair flat, knowing Ron will find it, advising him to tell Yvonne the truth.
Many Happy Returns
In the one-off 2016 special, Gary is still married to Phoebe as they live through the 1960s with their son Michael, who is now a teenager. Gary, missing the modern world, decides to visit the hospital where his younger self is being born, but inadvertently encounters his father who faints, leaving him to hold his younger self. The incident causes Gary to be thrown into the future in the 2010s, arriving in the men's toilets of a trendy burger joint in East London, where his former shop resided. During his visit, Gary meets with Yvonne, now a multimillionaire investor, with Ron as her tenant in the basement. To his shock, Gary learns that Yvonne got pregnant before the closure of the time portal in 1999, and that he now has a 16-year-old daughter named Ellie. After meeting her, Gary contemplates living a double life again, upon finding a new time portal has opened, hoping to get to know his daughter, whilst still maintaining his life in the 1960s.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||18 November 1993||23 December 1993|
|2||10||20 February 1995||1 May 1995|
|Special||26 December 1995|
|3||10||1 January 1996||4 March 1996|
|4||11||3 March 1997||20 May 1997|
|5||10||23 February 1998||27 April 1998|
|6||10||18 April 1999||28 June 1999|
|Special||2 September 2016|
A total of 59 episodes were made, including a Christmas special in 1995 and a special in 2016. Marks and Gran, the creators, wrote the first series; many later episodes were written by other writers.
As in Marks and Gran's sitcom Get Back, most episodes of Goodnight Sweetheart — and the programme itself – were named after popular song titles, others being derived from film titles. The show is named after the song "Goodnight, Sweetheart", a popular song of the 1930s and 1940s, popularised by Al Bowlly in 1931; it was later sung by Nick Curtis as the series signature tune. During one episode Gary and Phoebe refer to Bowlly's death during the Second World War.
Because of a script-editing error, two different episodes (series one, episode six and series four, episode two) were both titled "In the Mood". There is no special connection between these two episodes.
|Nicholas Lyndhurst||Gary Sparrow||59||1–6 and 1 special||1993–99, 2016|
|Victor McGuire||Ron Wheatcroft|
|Christopher Ettridge||P.C. Reg Deadman||56||1–6 and 1 special (Not in 1x02, 1x04, 2x04)|
|Elizabeth Carling||Phoebe Bamford||32||4–6 and 1 special||1997–99, 2016|
|Emma Amos||Yvonne Sparrow||31||4–6 and 1 special (Not in 4x04)||1997–99, 2016|
|David Benson||Noël Coward||6||5–6||1998–99|
|Ian Lavender||Michael Sparrow||1||5||1998|
|Tim Preston||Michael Sparrow||1||1 special||2016|
|Esme Coy||Ellie||1||1 special||2016|
The exteriors for the show were largely filmed around The Royal Oak, Bethnal Green, London. Ezra Street which runs alongside The Royal Oak, Bethnal Green was also used to film Duckett's Passage throughout the original six series.
All six series and the 1995 Christmas Special have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2) with edits made to certain episodes , the Christmas special was released on the third series DVD. The first five series have been released in Australia (Region 4).
|DVD Title||No. of discs||Year||No. of episodes||DVD release||DVD Interview|
|Region 2||Region 4|
|Complete Series 1||1||1993||6||4 February 2005||3 June 2009||Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran (Creators)|
|Complete Series 2||2||1995||10||26 September 2005||3 June 2009||Christopher Ettridge (Reg Deadman)|
|Complete Series 3||2||1995 & 1996||11||23 January 2006||17 September 2009||Dervla Kirwan (old Phoebe)|
|Complete Series 4||2||1997||11||22 May 2006||2 June 2011||Emma Amos (new Yvonne)|
|Complete Series 5||2||1998||10||24 July 2006||2 August 2011||David Benson (Noël Coward)|
|Complete Series 6||2||1999||10||18 September 2006||—||Elizabeth Carling (new Phoebe)|
|Complete Series 1–6||11||1993–99||58||23 October 2006||—||All of the above|
- Note although the 2016 special "Many Happy Returns" has not been released onto DVD it was released digitally September 2016 on BBC Store.
The show's writers and producers have stated they have received thousands of emails and letters regarding the show wishing for its return to the small screen. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have both stated that while there are no plans to bring the series back, it might possibly come back if the planned musical is made and is a success.
On 5 July 2016 it was announced that the show would be returning to BBC One for a one-off special episode, as part of the BBC's "landmark sitcom season". Unlike the original series, which was filmed in London, it was filmed and produced at dock10 studios, in Salford Quays. Original writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran wrote the script, and original star, Nicholas Lyndhurst, returned to the role of Gary Sparrow.
The special episode aired on 2 September 2016 on BBC One. It received overwhelming praise by fans of the show and was trending on Twitter for eight hours after it been broadcast. Writers Marks and Gran announced on Twitter on 6 October that the BBC had passed on making a new series.
In 2017, Marks and Gran said they are working as hard as they can to bring Goodnight Sweetheart back to TV screens as soon as they can with the possibilities of a new channel to broadcast future episodes.
Since 2014 there has been talk of Goodnight Sweetheart being turned into a musical and in December 2017, dates for the long anticipated stage musical were announced. This jukebox style musical would feature well-known songs from the 1940s and 1980s with the world premiere taking place at the Brookside Theatre, Romford in September 2018.
- Masters, Tim. "BBC News – Goodnight Sweetheart: Musical future for time travel show?". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "BBC – Comedy Guide – Goodnight Sweetheart". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 5 December 2004. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Winners – The National Television Awards". Nationaltvawards.com. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Goodnight Sweetheart (an Episode Guide)". epguides.com.
- "BBC Goodnight Sweetheart". James Harding. 11 August 2020. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
- "Goodnight Sweetheart". BBC Store. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- "Goodnight Sweetheart is coming back with Nicholas Lyndhurst returning to star". Retrieved 5 July 2016.
- Kitchener, Shaun. "BBC 'would be CRAZY' not to make full series of Goodnight Sweetheart after reboot special". Retrieved 2 September 2016.
- Masters, Tim (17 November 2013). "BBC News – Goodnight Sweetheart: Musical future for time travel show?". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- "Brookside Theatre". thelittleboxoffice.com. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
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