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Nearest And Dearest. Nellie Pledge (Hylda Baker). Image credit: Granada Television.

Nearest And Dearest

Sitcom about brother and sister, Eli and Nellie Pledge, forced to run a pickle factory together

1968 - 1973  (ITV)
46 (7 series)
Hylda Baker, Jimmy Jewel, Joe Gladwin, Madge Hindle, Edward Malin, Bert Palmer
Vince Powell, Harry Driver, John Stevenson, Roy Bottomley, Tom Brennand
Granada Television

Colne's finest pickle factory, Pledge's Purer Pickles, falls into the hands of Nellie and Eli Pledge after the death of their father, Joshua. Neither of the previously estranged siblings are that keen on taking on the business but they are forced into partnership by their father's bequest of £20,000 cash, should they keep the factory - and family home - running for at least 5 years.

The pair's second cousin Lily and her dithering octogenarian husband Walter are regular visitors to the Pledge household, alongside factory transport manager Stan and his horse Storm. A factory full of colourful characters complete the ensemble.

Our Review: A very mixed series. With the odd mini-gem aside, most episodes toward the latter part of the show's run (after ITV's switch to colour), are sadly sub-par and in some cases do tend to drag. This is largely down to a shift in the show's focus: whilst those earlier episodes did cover a wide variety of plots, there was always the overarching concern of the pickle factory drawing the warring siblings together to the same ultimate goal: the success of the business.

As the series progressed, however, this side of the show became less and less prominent, with many episodes barely even giving mention to the family concern that had brought the estranged brother and sister together in the first place. Instead, the focus became more generic family squabbles - still plentiful ground for comedy, but lacking the distinct characteristics that had made the early series unique.