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Watching logo.jpg
Created byJim Hitchmough
StarringPaul Bown
Emma Wray
Liza Tarbuck
Patsy Byrne
Perry Fenwick
No. of series7
No. of episodes56
Producer(s)Granada Television
Running time30mins x 54
60mins x 2
Original networkITV
Original release5 July 1987 (1987-07-05) –
4 April 1993 (1993-04-04)
External links

Watching is a British television sitcom, produced by Granada Television for the ITV network and broadcast for seven series and four Christmas specials between 1987 and 1993.[1]

The series was written by Jim Hitchmough and starred Paul Bown and Emma Wray as mismatched couple Malcolm Stoneway and Brenda Wilson.


Watching was set in Merseyside, with Brenda from Liverpool and Malcolm from Meols on the Wirral, the "posh" part of Merseyside on the other side of the River Mersey. The title refers to Brenda and her sister Pamela's hobby of "people watching", and to Malcolm's hobby of birdwatching, which initially Brenda endures rather than enjoys, but later comes to appreciate.

Quiet biker Malcolm, who lived with his domineering mother (played by Patsy Byrne), was accompanied on his birdwatching trips by loud scouser Brenda, who was forced to ride in the sidecar of his Norton motorbike and had a habit of rubbing his mother up the wrong way. Other key characters in the series were Brenda's sister Pamela (Liza Tarbuck), her husband David (John Bowler – Series 2 onwards) and Brenda and Pam's mother Joyce (played by Noreen Kershaw) in the last few series. The series followed Malcolm and Brenda's on/off relationship, during which Malcolm married another woman called Lucinda (played by Elizabeth Morton). However, Brenda and Malcolm finally married each other in the final episode, "Knotting", which was broadcast on 4 April 1993.

Episode List[edit]

Series One[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
1 "Meeting" 5 July 1987
2 "Wrestling" 12 July 1987
3 "Outing" 19 July 1987
4 "Confusing" 26 July 1987
5 "Leaving" 2 August 1987
6 "Repenting" 9 August 1987
7 "Hiding" 16 August 1987
8 Special Episode
27 December 1987

Series Two[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
9 "Falling" 19 February 1988
10 "Dancing" 26 February 1988
11 "Visiting" 4 March 1988
12 "Visiting II" 11 March 1988
13 "Missing" 18 March 1988
14 "Dining" 25 March 1988
15 "Moving" 1 April 1988
16 Special Episode
60-minute episode
24 December 1988

Series Three[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
17 "Losing" 3 March 1989
18 "Deceiving" 10 March 1989
19 "Requiting" 17 March 1989
20 "Breeding" 24 March 1989
21 "Wrenching" 31 March 1989
22 "Wedding" 7 April 1989

Series Four[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
23 "Joking" 1 December 1989
24 "Pairing" 8 December 1989
25 "Faltering" 15 December 1989
26 "Exploding" 22 December 1989
27 "Repairing" 5 January 1990
28 "Petting" 12 January 1990
29 "Floating" 19 January 1990
30 "Proposing" 26 January 1990
31 "Flitting" 2 February 1990

Series Five[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
32 "Listing" 14 December 1990
33 "Nesting" 21 December 1990
34 "Feeding" 4 January 1991
35 "Winning" 11 January 1991
36 "Fixing" 18 January 1991
37 "Straying" 25 January 1991
38 "Homing" 1 February 1991
39 "Suiting" 8 February 1991
40 "Bonding" 15 February 1991
41 "Presenting" 22 February 1991
42 Special Episode
60-minute episode
25 December 1991

Series Six[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
43 "Using" 3 January 1992
44 "Echoing" 10 January 1992
45 "Doctoring" 17 January 1992
46 "Christening" 24 January 1992
47 "Gulling" 31 January 1992
48 "Confessing" 7 February 1992
49 Special Episode
1 January 1993

Series Seven[edit]

Episode Number Episode Title Original Airdate
50 "Migrating" 21 February 1993
51 "Uncoupling" 28 February 1993
52 "Helping" 7 March 1993
53 "Engaging" 14 March 1993
54 "Wandering One" 21 March 1993
55 "Wandering Too" 28 March 1993
56 "Knotting" 4 April 1993


  • Emma Wray as Brenda Wilson
  • Paul Bown as Malcolm Stoneway
  • Liza Tarbuck as Pamela Wilson
  • Patsy Byrne as Mrs Marjorie Stoneway, Malcolm's mother
  • Perry Fenwick as Terry Milton
  • Philip Fox as Sydney Clough (series 1 only)
  • John Bowler as David Lynch (series 2 on)
  • Elizabeth Spriggs as Aunt Peggy (from series 2 on)
  • Liz Crowther as Susan Roberts (series 2 and 3 only)
  • Ken Jones as Uncle Bernard (series 5)
  • Russell Boulter as Chris Cameron (series 4 only)
  • Noreen Kershaw as Joyce Wilson, Brenda's Mum (series 5 on)
  • Andrew Hilton as Gerald Wilson, Brenda's young brother (series 5 on)
  • Elizabeth Morton as Lucinda Davis/Stoneway
  • Richard Good as Jonathan MacMillan
  • Ally Vuli as Roz, the Nanny
  • Al T. Kossy as Harold, landlord of the Grapes
  • Dave Dutton as Oswald the cafe owner
  • Bill Moores as "Cedric", regular at the Grapes
  • Anita Petrof - "Mary", regular at the Grapes

Note: "Cedric" and "Mary" are the names given to the characters by Brenda during her people-watching days, Cedric's "real" name is unknown, but in series one episode "Repenting" Brenda reveals that she has talked to her and that "Mary"'s real name is Freda.

Production notes[edit]

Watching was originally conceived as a comedy sketch about a shy birdwatcher and a lively girl, written by Hitchmough during a drama workshop at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. He submitted the sketch for the BBC satirical series Not the Nine O'Clock News but it was rejected.

Undeterred by this, Hitchmough developed the sketch into a hit stage play and later won a commission from Granada Television to produce a seven-part series for broadcast on Sunday nights at 10pm - a timeslot which was usually reserved for satirical comedy such as Yorkshire Television's The New Statesman and Central's Spitting Image.

After a successful first series and subsequent Christmas special, Watching was recommissioned and moved to an earlier timeslot of 8pm on Friday nights. Up until the end of the final run (broadcast at 7pm on Sunday), the series would win audiences of over 13 million viewers.

Originally, the series was produced by David Liddiment (later to become Director of Programming at ITV) and directed by Les Chatfield, a senior director at Granada. Chatfield directed all 56 episodes and took over producing duties from series 3 onwards. Liddiment became the series' executive producer.

Emma Wray sang both the opening and closing versions of the theme song, What Does He See in Me?, which was written by Charles Hart. Incidental music was written and composed by Richie Close.

In 1998, after a revival of the series was turned down by ITV, who felt that the series had run its course, Hitchmough pitched a revived version of the series to the BBC, spurred on by the success of Men Behaving Badly's move to BBC One after it was dropped by ITV. Initial talks were held, but the BBC decided not to pursue the proposed series; they did offer Hitchmough the option to record a Radio 4 adaption of his original series, in keeping with a number of popular sit-coms that had also been adapted into radio versions, but Hitchmough turned the offer down, feeling that he 'wanted to tell new stories with the characters, not redo old ones'.

Book and video releases[edit]

A novel based on the first series of Watching and written by Jim Hitchmough was published in 1990 by Bantam Books.

A video featuring the first two episodes, "Meeting" and "Wrestling", was released by CastleVision in August 1993.

DVD releases[edit]

All seven series and four specials have been released on DVD. The complete first series, including the 1987 Christmas special ("Seasoning"), was released on DVD in February 2006; also released was Watching: Series 1 -Selected Episodes, which comprised three first-season episodes: "Meeting", "Outing" and "Hiding". The complete second series was released in March 2008. The complete third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh series including the 1988, 1991 and 1993 Christmas and New Year specials ("Twitching", "Slipping" and "Reverting"), especially a nine-disc set of the complete series, were released in April, May, July, October and November 2009. All releases are distributed by Network.

DVD Year(s) Release date
The Complete Series 1 1987 27 February 2006
The Complete Series 2 1988 17 March 2008
The Complete Series 3 1989 6 April 2009
The Complete Series 4 1989-
25 May 2009
The Complete Series 5 1990-
13 July 2009
The Complete Series 6 1992 5 October 2009
The Complete Series 7 1993 9 November 2009
The Complete Series 1 to 7 Box Set 1987-
9 November 2009


  1. ^ Evans, Jeff (1995). The Guinness Television Encyclopedia. Guinness. p. 562. ISBN 0-85112-744-4.

External links[edit]