Nightingales (UK TV series)

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Created byPaul Makin
StarringJames Ellis
Robert Lindsay
David Threlfall
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series2
No. of episodes13
Production location(s)Paradise Circus, Birmingham,
West Midlands
, England
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)Alomo Productions
Original networkChannel 4
Picture format4:3
Original release27 February 1990 (1990-02-27) – 10 February 1993 (1993-02-10)

Nightingales is a British situation comedy set around the antics of three security guards working the night shift. It was written by Paul Makin and produced by Alomo Productions for Channel 4 in 1990.


Nightingales revolved around the jobs of three bored nightwatchmen working in a deserted office block, the location of which is never revealed, although exterior shots are of a building located on Paradise Circus in Birmingham City Centre.

A typical episode involved both very naturalistic dialogue — and the kind of claustrophobic studio-setting that prevailed in shows such as Steptoe and Son — combined with the surreal.

Nightingales ran for two series totalling 13 episodes from 27 February 1990 to 10 February 1993. The long delay was prompted by Channel 4 executive Seamus Cassidy who was not happy with the proposed scripts for the second series and it was nearly three years before it was given the go-ahead. The theme tune was a version of the song "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" sung by Lindsay. Writer Paul Makin went on to write the more conventional comedies like Goodnight Sweetheart. A US remake (titled "In Security") was piloted but never commissioned.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Robert Lindsay as Carter, a pseudo-intellectual whose aspirations were invariably frustrated.
  • David Threlfall as "Ding Dong" Bell, a moronic thug who is somewhat in awe of Carter.
  • James Ellis as Sarge, an impossibly optimistic veteran watchman (who is occasionally used to parody the naive optimism of Dixon of Dock Green).
  • Smith, a fourth character who was dead throughout the first series, the other characters kept his body in the building so that they could claim his salary.

Guest characters included Piper (Edward Burnham), the elderly cleaning man; Eric the werewolf (Ian Sears); an additional security guard who was a gorilla; and Mary the Christmas Allegory (Lia Williams), who gave birth to consumer products.


Series one[edit]

No. Title Original airdate Synopsis
"Moonlight Becomes You!"
27 February 1990
The new lad gets a touch of lycanthropy. Problems with the inspector.
6 March 1990
Carter and Bell take the guise of Shakespearian villains to do away with Piper.
"Kiss and Make Up"
13 March 1990
Carter wins a date with a glamorous model.
"Opening night"
20 March 1990
Sarge needs surgery. Swan may be a werewolf, but he's also a medical student.
"Scrutiny of the Bounty"
27 March 1990
They're under suspicion and under surveillance.
"Terence in the Midst"
3 April 1990
Security is so easy even a monkey can do it.

Series two[edit]

No. Title Original airdate Synopsis
"Silent Night"
30 December 1992
Christmas episode. A pregnant woman called Mary arrives on Christmas Eve. She assures them she's not an allegory.
"Trouble in Mind"
6 January 1993
A psychiatrist delves into the murky waters of Bell's mind after an incident with a horse.
"Crime and Punishment"
13 January 1993
A burglar, Jake Wood, is apprehended, who produces incontrovertible evidence that he is the illegitimate son of one of the three men.
"All at Sea"
20 January 1993
Peter Vaughan guests as the new inspector who rules with an iron fist. Mutiny is in the air.
"Reach for the Sky"
27 January 1993
Carter and Bell compete for a job at Heathrow Airport by sitting a three-part exam.
"King Lear II"
3 February 1993
Eric the werewolf returns and a Shakespearean plot is brewed to sabotage the Sarge's prodigal "son".
"Someone to Watch Over Me?!"
10 February 1993
The employers install a new CCTV system and give them a cake. Three familiar-looking replacements arrive.

External links[edit]