The Rag Trade. Image credit: British Broadcasting Corporation.

The Rag Trade

Each working day at Fenner Fashions is a new struggle between the management and the workers

1961 - 1978  (BBC One / ITV)
59 (5 series)
Peter Jones, Miriam Karlin, Reg Varney, Christopher Beeny, Esma Cannon, Sheila Hancock, Wanda Ventham, Barbara Windsor, Claire Davenport, Amanda Reiss, Sheena Marshe & more
Ronald Chesney, Ronald Wolfe
British Broadcasting Corporation
& London Weekend Television

Fenner Fashions make high quality clothing. Unfortunately for Harold Fenner (Peter Jones), the shop steward, Paddy (played by Miriam Karlin), is on the look-out for any excuse to take the almost entirely female workforce out on strike. Consequently, every day is a battle between Paddy and Harold, aided (and often hindered) by the foreman, Reg (Reg Varney - changed to Tony, played by Christopher Beeny when the show went to LWT in 1977). But somehow they seem to pull together at the last minute and get things done.

Our Review: On the surface a fairly standard early-1960s sitcom, The Rag Trade was in fact highly provocative. Whilst every other programme of the day tended to centre around middle-class men, it broke the trend to concentrate on a group of lazy, yet strong, working class women, and struck a chord with the viewing public.

Whilst contemporary issues such as strikes aren't quite so relevant in modern-day Britain, many other storylines and aspects of the programme ring as true as ever, and so the show holds up surprisingly well.