Odd Man Out. Neville Sutcliffe (John Inman). Image credit: Thames Television.

Odd Man Out

Neville Suttcliffe owns a Blackpool fish and chip shop. When his estranged father dies, Neville inherits half of his seaside rock factory and moves south to run it

1977  (ITV)
7 (1 series)
John Inman, Josephine Tewson, Peter Butterworth, Glenna Forster-Jones, Avril Angers, Jan Harding, Vivienne Johnson
Vince Powell
Thames Television

Neville Sutcliffe leaves the familiar safety of his Blackpool fish and chip shop in order to take over the running of his late father's seaside rock factory - alongside family he never even knew existed.

He immediately gets on the wrong side of a woman at Littlehampton train station. Unfortunately for Neville, she turns out to be his step-sister and new business partner, Dorothy!

To make matters worse, the long-established family enterprise is failing. £30,000 in debt, to be precise. Can Neville save the business and fit in with his new friends, family and staff?

Our Review: A fairly typical fish-out-of-water premise gave Odd Man Out a good basis. Unfortunately, despite a talented cast putting in worthy performances and a sprinkling of wonderful gags, the programme just didn't gel; much like the rock factory it depicted, the series had the right ingredients but failed to come up with the goods.

Viewing figures for Inman's first starring role were relatively respectable, but ultimately it was not popular enough. The series was not a complete wash-out and did provide some good laughs during its seven episodes, but simply failed to live up to its promise.

Writer Vince Powell speculated, in his 2008 autobiography From Rags To Gags that "I went way over the top with John's character. He was far too camp and there were too many gay jokes. I think the reason it failed was that although his character in Are You Being Served? was blatantly gay, he was only one of a team and, as such, his role was limited, whereas in Odd Man Out he was the star and rarely off the screen. It was just too much for the viewers to take."

Whether a second series was ever likely is disputable; production of the series put Are You Being Served? on hold for 18 months, and whilst the BBC insisted that the show could not continue without Inman's participation, how that line would have held had Odd Man Out been a runaway success, and what route Inman may have chosen to go down in such an instance, is an entirley different matter. In the end of course, the stronger and far more popular Are You Being Served? won over - even the biggest Odd Man Out fans would have to concede that as the worthy outcome.