Time Gentlemen, Please!

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Time Gentlemen Please!
Directed byLewis Gilbert
Produced byHerbert Mason
Written byPeter Blackmore
StarringEddie Byrne
Music byAntony Hopkins
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byManuel del Campo
Distributed byAssociated British Film Distributors (UK)
Arthur Mayer-Edward Kingsley (US)
Release date
  • July 1952 (1952-07) (UK)
  • 2 September 1953 (1953-09-02) (US)
Running time
79 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom

Time Gentlemen, Please! is a 1952 British comedy film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Eddie Byrne.


The Prime Minister undertakes a tour of the cities and towns with the highest percentage figures of employment: Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, and at the top of the list at 99.9%, Little Hayhoe, a small town in Essex (filmed in Thaxted[citation needed]) with a population of 2,000. The 0.1% is Irishman Daniel "Dan" Dance, who is well-liked by most of the residents. The village council, however, are eager to put him out of the way before the Prime Minister arrives. Councillor Eric Hace orders the village's only policeman, Police Constable Tumball to arrest Dan for skipping out without paying his bill at Hace's pub. Sir Digby Montague, as the head of the council and the local magistrate, plans to sentence him to a week in the gaol.

When Sir Digby finds that his maid Sally, who happens to be Dan's granddaughter, has been giving Dan Sir Digby's leftovers for dinner regularly, he promptly sacks her.

Miss Mouncey, another council member, comes up with a notion: Dan should go live in the almshouse, which has been empty for 50 years. Vicar Reverend Simpson informs the Crouches, the custodians, that the regulations are to be strictly enforced, even though they are 400 years old. Among other things, the rules dictate that he be washed by the matron every night and wear an old-fashioned uniform. When he returns drunk the next night, he is put in stocks. Displeased by this, the villagers pelt Timothy Crouch with food.

Bill Jordan is sympathetic to Dan's plight (and attracted to Sally). He reminds the councillors that an election will be held before the Prime Minister's visit.

When Simpson dies, he is replaced by the Reverend Soater, a much more lenient man and an Irishman himself. Soater examines the rules (written in Latin) to see if he can do anything to help his countryman. He discovers that the rents for the extensive lands indicated on a map are supposed to first go to the upkeep of the almshouses, and the remainder distributed to the inmates daily. He estimates that the rents amount to almost £7,000 per annum. Dan, as the only inmate, is entitled to £20 a day! After consulting a lawyer the next day, Soater gives Dan £20, plus the arrears from when Soater arrived. The news spreads quickly. Dan treats everyone to drinks and gifts.

Sir Digby offers Dan a very easy job, though with a much smaller salary, to leave the almshouse. When that ploy fails, Hace schemes to make Dan late for the daily 9.00pm closing of the almshouse gates, which would disqualify him; he enlists Miss Mouncey to help distract Dan. Fortunately, Dan gets Miss Mouncey drunk, and she blurts out the plot. Dan rushes back to the almshouse just in time.

Meanwhile, Bill Jordan goes out on a date with Peggy Stebbins and, at her insistence, kisses her. Then he quickly drives over to Sally's lodgings and kisses her without a word of explanation. They both enjoy it, but Sally becomes annoyed when he admits Peggy put the idea into his head and slams the door on him.

With the council election coming up, Mr. Spink, who owns the local factory, suggests that Dan run for office. Dan is uninterested at first, but soon changes his mind. He is joined by Bill Jordan, Spink and Mary Wade, the shopkeeper who now employs Sally. Hace comes up with a scheme to make Dan look foolish by recruiting 11 tramps for the almshouse, but Souter cites a regulation that the new additions must be approved by the residents. Dan, of course, rejects them.

The new candidates are all elected. Sally is so overjoyed, she kisses Bill. Dan rushes back to the almshouse at 9.00, but instead of staying, he exacts revenge on the Crouches, then heads back to the festivities. He announces that now that he has disqualified himself, the money will go to more worthy causes and the almshouses will be converted to a day nursery for the workers. Spink offers Dan a job suitable to his talents: mattress tester. With that, Little Hayhoe reaches its goal of 100% employment and welcomes the Prime Minister ... in a typically English downpour.


Home media[edit]

In 2007, Time Gentlemen, Please! was given a DVD release as part of the Long Lost Comedy Classics collection.

Critical reception[edit]

The film historians Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane regard Time Gentlemen, Please! as one of "the most attractive British 'B' films, noting that "it has the advantage of an amusing screenplay ... a central character engaging enough in concept and execution to hold the narrative together, and one of those prodigally rich casts of British character actors ... which can make much worse films than this enjoyable".[1]


  1. ^ Steve Chibnall & Brian McFarlane, The British 'B' Film, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2009, pp. 202–3.

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