Not On Your Nellie
|Not On Your Nellie|
Series 1 DVD cover
|Created by||Roy Bottomley
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||17|
|Producer(s)||London Weekend Television|
|Running time||25 minutes per episode|
|Picture format||4:3 colour|
|Original release||3 March 1974 – 29 August 1975|
|Related shows||Nearest and Dearest|
Not On Your Nellie is a British sitcom that ran from 1974-75. It starred veteran actress Hylda Baker as Nellie Pickersgill, a Bolton woman who moves to London to help run her ailing father's Chelsea pub. 17 episodes of the series were produced by London Weekend Television for the ITV network.
When Jed Pickersgill (John Barrett) finds himself too ill to run his Chelsea pub, The Brown Cow, he calls upon his middle-aged daughter Nellie for help. Nellie, however, is teetotal and does not approve of alcohol (or, in fact, any vice) and attempts to maintain order in the pub by keeping a watchful eye on the regulars and her wayward father. Regular customers included Charlie (Leo Dolan), a window cleaner whose pastimes included booze and women, Ali (Azad Ali), an Asian London Underground worker who was forever being assaulted in the line of duty, George (David Raynor), an effeminate gay man who runs a nearby fashion boutique, and Gilbert (Roger Howlett), his flamboyantly dressed but always silent boyfriend. There was a new 'busty barmaid' in each series (whom Nellie never approved of either), including Beryl (Alexandra Dane), Doris (Wendy Richard), and "Big Brenda" (Sue Nicholls).
Not On Your Nellie premiered a year after Baker's previous series, Nearest and Dearest, ended. In a 1973 television interview with Baker (available on the Series 7 DVD of Nearest and Dearest), she stated that Not On Your Nellie was planned as a spin-off from Nearest and Dearest and would focus on the character Nellie Pledge after her brother Eli (Jimmy Jewel) deserts her following the end of their family business, Pledge's Purer Pickles. However, Baker's character in Not On Your Nellie was not Nellie Pledge, but Nellie Pickersgill - an identical character in all but name. Not On Your Nellie was created by Roy Bottomley and Tom Brennand and was based on a stage play that they had written for Baker in the frame of the Nellie Pledge character. Bottomley and Brennand were two of the regular writers for Nearest and Dearest, but were not the series creators ("Nearest" was created by Vince Powell and Harry Driver and was produced by Granada Television). As such, neither Bottomley or Brennand (or London Weekend Television) had any rights to the character of Nellie Pledge, and so this is likely what facilitated the name change to Pickersgill. However, as with Nearest and Dearest, much of the comedy stemmed from Baker's malapropisms and partially improvised Northern humour, and Not On Your Nellie was essentially a new version of Nearest and Dearest in a different location. This issue was not helped by the fact that Bottomley and Brennand recycled many of their old gags - and even entire scripts - from Nearest and Dearest (this can be seen most prominently in the 1975 episode "Feeling The Draught" which was a remake of their 1969 Nearest and Dearest episode "Two Pennies To Rub Together").
The series also allowed Baker, who was a veteran of theatre and music hall, to exhibit more of her stage abilities such as singing, clog dancing and piano playing, and she wrote and performed the series' occasional end title theme song.
Despite the similarities, Not On Your Nellie did not match the success of Nearest and Dearest. Major cast changes occurred before production of the third series commenced, with Barratt, Raynor, Ali, and Richard all leaving the show. Two new characters were brought in to accommodate the changes, including Jack Douglas as Nellie's cousin Stanley, and Sue Nicholls as new barmaid Brenda. However, during the taping of the third series in 1975, Baker slipped on set and injured herself. Although she appeared (in a wheelchair) for one episode after the accident, Baker then left the series and took legal action against LWT for her injury. One further episode was made without her (where it was explained her character was away in hospital) but the show was then abruptly axed only four episodes into its third series, also marking the end of Baker's television career.
All three series of the show have been released by Network DVD in the UK. The first series also includes the series finale of Nearest and Dearest as a bonus feature.