Comedy Chronicles

Closed for the holidays: Why sitcoms seldom screen their summer breaks

Are You Being Served?. Image shows from L to R: Mr. Ernest Grainger (Arthur Brough), Mrs. Betty Slocombe (Mollie Sugden), Captain Stephen Peacock (Frank Thornton), Miss Shirley Brahms (Wendy Richard), Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries (John Inman), Mr. Dick Lucas (Trevor Bannister), Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold (Nicholas Smith). Copyright: STUDIOCANAL

It is, at last, summer holiday time again, at least for some of us, but should it ever be summer holiday time for sitcoms? Sitcoms are all about, figuratively speaking, watching hamsters running round and round on a wheel. Holidays in sitcoms are the equivalent of letting the hamster out of the cage.

We can see well enough why broadcasters like the idea of it. It provides them with a bit of novelty, a bit of colour, a bit of seasonal recognition humour to sell to the viewers.

We can also see well enough why writers like it. It allows them to 'open things out' and place their familiar characters in unfamiliar contexts, and enables them to write a quite different, uncharacteristic, kind of storyline.

We can see, as well, why actors usually enjoy it. It gives them (unless the budget limits the crew to making do with pretending somewhere like Norfolk is actually Ibiza) a free trip abroad, and gives them some new surroundings with which their character can engage.

The problem is that 'The Holiday Episode' never seems a wise route to take for a well-established sitcom. Sitcoms are all about keeping people in, not letting them out.

Taking sitcoms on holiday is thus a massive gamble. Once you take the characters out of their usual claustrophobic environment, once you release them from the cage, you also summon up the awkward question: why would they ever willingly go back inside?

Hamsters won't fancy going back in. Given the chance, they would much prefer to bolt through the cat flap and head off through the hedge to freedom, or underneath a car tyre to oblivion.

It is much the same for sitcom characters. They stay together only because the situation makes them stay together. Release them from the cell and you risk the spell being broken.

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Holidays, as a consequence, are best kept off camera. Bishop Berkeley, agitated enough already with the thought of unseen trees falling in the forest, would probably have wanted to be presented with the on-screen proof, but most viewers are surely content to assume that such seasonal excursions exist without feeling the need to have it confirmed with their own eyes.

Time and again, however, sitcom makers have succumbed to temptation and gambled on taking at least one episode out on tour. Hancock, for instance, popped off to Switzerland; Hyacinth Bucket flew to Copenhagen; Patsy and Eddie pootled over to Provence; Father Ted took a trip to Kilkelly Caravan Park; and the two Trotter boys trotted across various parts of the globe, leaving Peckham for Benidorm, Mallorca, Miami and a little village in Normandy.

Please Sir!. Image shows from L to R: Maureen Bullock (Liz Gebhardt), Eric Duffy (Peter Cleall), Peter Craven (Malcolm McFee), Nobbler (Nicky Locise), Frankie Abbott (David Barry), Sharon Eversleigh (Carol Hawkins)

Then, of course, there have been plenty of spreading of wings in the sitcom movie spin-offs. Please Sir! (1971) sent the pupils camping at Woodbridge Rural Centre; Steptoe & Son (1972) moved part of the action to an unnamed location in Spain; Nearest And Dearest (also 1972) made it as far as Blackpool; Holiday On The Buses (1973) took the cast off to Prestatyn; Never Mind The Quality Feel The Width (also 1973) headed for Rome; The Likely Lads (1976) settled for Whitley Bay; Are You Being Served? (1977) preferred the fictional Spanish resort of the Costa Plonka; while the two Inbetweeners movies (2011 and 2014) saw the characters relocated first to Crete and then Australia.

The results, predictably, have been, to put it generously, mixed. The majority, to put it less generously, have been failures.

The main reason for this is that most of these 'fish out of water' escapades have lacked any proper clarity of purpose. After the initial thought, 'Let's send them off somewhere,' there does not seem to have been a 'then what?' - let alone a 'why?'.

The sitcom writer, when toying with the basic idea of taking the show on the road, always needs to ask him or herself the question 'Then what?' and always needs to answer it with something that also satisfies the 'Why?'. When you pluck your characters out of their supposedly permanent context, then you need to think-through the possible consequences, and - most importantly - be certain that whatever happens elsewhere will not end up wrecking the sitcom's raison d'être.

For one thing: the holiday cannot be allowed to go too well, otherwise it will make the return to normality too unbearable. Sitcom characters, traditionally, are already locked together in a state of tension, so any first-hand knowledge of a better place to be, and nicer people to be with, would threaten to blow a relationship irreparably apart.

The Likely Lads. Image shows from L to R: Terry Collier (James Bolam), Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes)

Imagine Sybil Fawlty meeting a nice young man in, say, Torremolinos, and then contemplating leaving him to go back to Basil in Torquay. She would be straight off to see a solicitor for a quickie divorce and half of the sale of the hotel.

Something similar would surely happen, mutatis mutandis, to most other central sitcom characters if ever they were allowed to slip out of hell for a taste of heaven. Even an old lag will be tempted to creep out of prison if the gaoler insists on leaving the key in the lock.

The good sitcom holiday, therefore, is the bad sitcom holiday. The experience needs to be so traumatic, or alarming, or disappointing, or expensive, or downright boring - or all of these things combined - as to send the characters straight back home feeling suitably chastened and freshly resigned to their fate.

There is actually a venerable tradition for this safer sort of comic vacation. As far back as the Victorian era, with George and Weedon Grossmith's gloriously funny Diary Of A Nobody - a case for which can be made as being the seed from which the great British sitcom grew - the conceit of a holiday location as a 'home from home' - a place so eerily, dispiritingly, similar to the usual situation that it has no significant effect on the characters - was already in place.

For the Holloway-based and habit-honed Charles Pooter (a man for whom 'Home Sweet Home' is his proudly avowed motto), this preternaturally banal summer destination is 'Good Old Broadstairs' - a resort whose total absence of novelty he finds so reassuring that his long-suffering wife, Carrie, causes something of an existential tremor when she finally cracks and begs him never again to use the phrase 'Good Old' in relation to that wretchedly over-familiar place. Even after that sudden and unexpected outburst, however, Pooter still cannot resist a sly 'Hurrah' as he records their next arrival there, and Carrie, having failed to find a practicable alternative, seems silently resigned to this seasonal ordeal.

Steptoe And Son. Image shows from L to R: Harold Steptoe (Harry H. Corbett), Albert Steptoe (Wilfrid Brambell). Copyright: BBC

Much the same thing would happen, almost a century later, in the Steptoe And Son episode - the final one of its first series - entitled The Holiday. Old man Albert Steptoe, just like Pooter, has long had a 'same procedure as last year, same procedure as every year' attitude to the annual summer sojourn (much like the eminently Pooterish Martin Bryce, in Ever Decreasing Circles, would have a 'thing' for the Bavarian Alps). In Steptoe's case it's good old Bognor, and his reaction, when his son Harold, just like Carrie before him, snaps and declares that he really craves a change, is just as pop-eyed and puzzled as Pooter's:

Steptoe And Son. Albert Steptoe (Wilfrid Brambell). Copyright: BBC

ALBERT: But...we've always been to Bognor!
HAROLD: Well, it's about time we stopped goin' to Bognor, innit!
ALBERT: Well, what have you got against Bognor?
HAROLD: I ain't got nothing against Bognor. It's a nice place. I just don't want to go to Bognor this year.
ALBERT: But it's lovely there! The Hotham Park Pets corner...I bet there's nothing like that in these places. Naaah. [Starts glancing through Harold's travel brochures] Hey, what's this?...Greece...Hey, look at it - it's falling to bits!
HAROLD: That happens to be the Acropolis!
ALBERT: The what?
HAROLD: The Acropolis! Ain't you never heard of it? That's famous, that is! The Four Horsemen of the Acropolis? It's legendary!
ALBERT: Sounds daft to me. And what about Mrs Clifford? She's expecting us. Marvellous boarding house she's got - not falling to bits like this lot! And her grub: maaaarvellous!

Just like Pooter once again, Steptoe Snr ends up getting his own way, and the sanctity of the sitcom is protected. Rather than risking the wanderlusting Harold wandering off down some enchanting drómos, calle or strada never to be seen again, Albert keeps him bogged-down in Bognor, where no one can hear him dream (and we, the viewers, only have to see the holiday start as the closing credits begin and the series ends).

Another sitcom that was, most of the time, unusually good at orchestrating this kind of conclusion was David Renwick's One Foot In The Grave. On a number of memorable occasions during its ten year run, the show was clever enough to keep the vacation off camera and focus instead, via a deft pincer movement, on discrediting the appeal of 'going away' by dwelling on all the potential pain and suffering that might be encountered both before the departure and after the return.

One Foot In The Grave. Image shows from L to R: Margaret Meldrew (Annette Crosbie), Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson). Copyright: BBC

In the final episode of Series 1 (The Return Of The Speckled Band), for example, it is quickly established that the reason why the Meldrews are going on holiday is because they are fast approaching breaking point: 'We've had so many disasters lately,' moans Margaret, 'there are times when you wonder what else there is that could possibly go wrong'.

They are about to fly off for a fortnight in Athens, but the plane-phobic Victor is already fretting about the flight - 'There's nothing between you and the ground. What happens if there's turbulence? It could be the Isle of Wight ferry all over again - lying flat on my back on the lavatory floor for seventy-five minutes!'- and his mood is not improved by the news from their tactless neighbour, Mrs Warboys, that she has heard that Athens, thanks to its congestion, filth, squalor, noise and raw sewage, has been rated 'one of the ten most unpleasant places on earth you could go to for a holiday'.

By the time that the couple finally get in the car and set off for the airport, Victor has already accidentally donated a visiting electrician's size thirteen shoes to Oxfam; received back all of the unwanted items he tried to dump in a nearby skip; an incomprehensible Geordie has sent him a box of alligator eggs; Mrs Warboys has had her stomach pumped after mistaking his carpet cleaner for a glass of Andrews; and a seven-foot-long Indian python has escaped from a nearby garden centre and ended up wriggling into Victor's suitcase. It is the perfect way to end the episode - just when we sympathise enough with them to feel that they really do need the break, but just before we have to see them actually start taking it.

The story is then picked up at the beginning of the second series (In Luton Airport No-One Can Hear You Scream). The holiday is already over, and they are back in England.

A snake finding its way in to Victor's suitcase. Copyright: BBC

We only discover after the fact about Victor finding a dead python in his suitcase, undergoing an intimate body search by customs officers after complaining about the crack in his bottom, and then discovering that all their luggage has gone missing ('Two weeks of misery incarnate,' he barks, 'imprisoned in the most polluted city on earth in the middle of the Greek coach drivers' strike!'). A sun-tanned Margaret is sitting with a worried-looking Mrs Warboys in the airport café, showing her their holiday snaps, and not even this obligatory homecoming ritual is going well: 'Nice one of the ruins,' says the neighbour. 'I think that's the hotel,' says Margaret.

There is, however, worse to come. Mrs Warboys, after getting Margaret a brandy, finally plucks up the courage to let them know that their house, during their two-week absence, has been demolished.

First of all, she reveals, the property caught fire, and was very badly gutted but still standing. 'That was before the hurricane.' Then she adds that, as pieces were now flying off and endangering nearby pedestrians, the decision was taken to knock what remained of it down.

One Foot In The Grave. Image shows from L to R: Mrs. Warboys (Doreen Mantle), Margaret Meldrew (Annette Crosbie), Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson)

Returning to the rubble, a horrified Victor ('This was my HOUSE!'), still wearing his multi-coloured shirt with a squashed sombrero now hanging limply from his back, walks slowly toward the charred door frame and steps inside, where he is astounded to find amongst the smoky blackness a pile of fresh newspapers and a free sample of HP spicy sauce:

VICTOR: I don't believe it! Look at this - the house has been razed to the ground and they're still delivering the bloody newspapers! Free newspapers they stick through the door! Look at this one - this is tonight's edition! This has been delivered TONIGHT!
MARGARET: What are you looking for?
VICTOR: Where is it... 'Your Fortune in the Stars...Virgo: You will come back today from your holiday to receive an extremely unpleasant rectal examination from three men in peaked caps! Your luggage will go missing on the other side of the world!! Your house will be completely consumed by a hideous fireball!!! You'll end up tonight freezing to death on a demolition site dressed as The Cisco Kid!!!!' Absolutely uncanny! He's hit the nail right on the head and no mistake!

As if he is not already in a bad enough mood, the neighbours across the road now start opening their bedroom windows and send his blood pressure shooting up even higher:

FIRST NEIGHBOUR: For God's sake keep that bloody row down - show other people some consideration!
VICTOR: What the hell's it got to do with you?
FIRST NEIGHBOUR: I'm trying to get some bloody sleep! And I'm not getting any with you down there yakking nineteen to the dozen about rectal examinations and spicy sauces! Don't you know what the time is??
VICTOR: Time you stuck your head down the waste disposal system!
MARGARET: Victor, leave it, you're waking up the whole street!
VICTOR: I HAVE JUST RETURNED HOME TO FIND MY ENTIRE HOUSE BURNT TO THE GROUND!!!
FIRST NEIGHBOUR: Ha! Don't I know it! I didn't get any bloody sleep that night, either - fire engines and gawd knows what else till the early hours!
VICTOR: Oh, I'm sorry that they disturbed you! I'll ask them if they wouldn't mind climbing up the ladders in their stocking feet next time! How about THAT? Maybe put a silencer on their sirens!
SECOND NEIGHBOUR: Is that HIM back again? Old misery guts? I thought it was too good to last! Do you have to make that bleedin' racket all night long?
VICTOR: IF I WANT TO MAKE A RACKET, I WILL! AND IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT YOU CAN BLOODY WELL LUMP IT THE PAIR OF YOU!!!

At that point, he turns on his heels and starts climbing what is left of the charcoal-encrusted staircase. 'I'm going upstairs to bed,' he snarls, 'so that I can wake up in the morning to find out that this has all been a hideous dream!' Margaret, still standing in the shadows amongst the wreckage, promptly breaks down and sobs.

It is as if the Meldrews have been punished by the Gods of Sitcom with an admonitory lightning bolt. They have dared to stray from their designated situation, and this is the cruel retribution their warders have wrought.

It is a very knowing piece of meta-comedy by David Renwick, very deftly done, and, as if to make sure that the lesson has fully been learned, he does much the same again during the fourth series, in the episode entitled Warm Champagne. This particular take on the hazards of holidays explores how the change of scene can so easily unpick the stitching of the essential sitcom relationship, like loosening the pegs of a tent, to the point where, unless there is a swift authorial intervention, the whole thing will fall in on itself or tear apart.

A pub sign showing Victor's face and the name 'The Pain in the Arse'. Copyright: BBC

It is a Saturday morning at the start of July, and the Meldrews are returning from another rash week away. It is clear, just from seeing their careworn faces through the car window, looking more browned-off than merely browned, that the change has most definitely not been as good as a rest.

Victor is nursing feet so severely sunburnt that he can only shuffle about on his knees like a tetchy Toulouse-Lautrec; the front window has been broken by the unruly cricket-mad kids over at number ten; the man who promised to pop around in their absence to feed the fish has helped himself to most of their grapes; next-door's dog appears to have eaten the key to the padlock on the shed; and someone has gone to the trouble of making and attaching a mock-pub sign, 'The Pain in the Arse', on to the newly-erected lamppost outside the Meldrews' house. 'Yes,' snarls Victor sarcastically, 'it's really WONDERFUL to be home!'
There is worse to come. There is Ben to come.

Ben is someone they met on holiday. He comes from North London, and he helped drag Victor and his sun-sizzled soles from the beach.

Ben has been, Margaret says with a wistful sigh, 'a lot of fun'. Nothing rings the alarm bells for a sitcom more rapidly than one of the characters seeming to realise that, somewhere else out there in the world, beyond the bars of their sitcom prison house, is the prospect of 'a lot of fun'.

On their first day back, while Victor is out in the garden sifting through the dog's recent deposits, Margaret is surprised and delighted to receive a phone call from Ben. It only takes this, along with another nocturnal rant from Victor (this time about the milk tanker that has crashed into the aforementioned lamppost and thrust a long burnished-gold bar of light through their bedroom window), to summon up the cry that all sitcoms dread: 'Oh God,' moans Margaret, 'there must be something better in life than this!'

She slips off the next morning for a clandestine date with Ben. Victor is far too absorbed trying to fix a plug in time for the UEFA Cup Final to suspect that anything untoward might be up.

Ben turns out to be the kind of pompous bow-tied bore who fusses about coffee beans and says things like, 'I always think there's nothing worse than warm champagne,' but the dazzled Margaret, who knows from bitter experience that there are countless things worse than warm champagne, is just happy to be in the company of someone who is not too busy complaining to notice that she actually exists.

Margaret and Ben kiss. Image shows from L to R: Margaret Meldrew (Annette Crosbie), Ben (Tristram Jellinek). Copyright: BBC

Fortunately for Victor, and the sitcom, Ben's over-eagerness to lure her away from her husband ('He's just frightful, isn't he?...Thirty-five years saddled to that!...How you've stuck it all these years...It's never too late, Margaret, even at our time of life, to change direction...') ends up backfiring. He has merely succeeded in tightening the ties that still bind.

'You talk about being sensitive,' she says to Ben after giving him a goodbye kiss. 'I'm afraid that's Victor's trouble. He's the most sensitive person I've ever met. And that's why I love him. And why I constantly want to ram his head through a television screen.'

She thus returns home to deal with yet another one of the things that are worse than warm champagne - in this case, the realisation that her husband, his eyes shrouded by a sleep mask, has inadvertently spent the first part of the night in bed next to a dazed and ancient woman whom social services have somehow managed to deposit at the wrong address. It does not help matters at all when Victor attempts to reassure his outraged wife that 'I thought it was you'.

She knows, nonetheless, that she is back where she, like he, belongs. It might be a prison, but it is their prison, and another one of our carefully-policed sitcoms survives.

This trio of anti-holiday episodes from One Foot In The Grave represents an admirable exercise in self-administered aversion therapy, sending a brusque 'you can't handle the truth' message to the two main characters to send them scurrying, suitably chastised, back around that hamster wheel in the cage, a bit like Number Six in The Prisoner after that big bouncing balloon has brought him bruised and beaten back to the Village. Indeed, so knowingly does David Renwick lay down these lessons that it's all the more surprising, and bemusing, when, for the 1993 Christmas special, he largely ignores them himself and devotes a ninety-minute episode to showing what the Meldrews do actually get up to on holiday.

One Foot In The Grave. Image shows from L to R: Margaret Meldrew (Annette Crosbie), Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson). Copyright: BBC

One Foot In The Algarve, as it was called, is by no means an unamusing hour-and-a-half, but it is, in sitcom terms, quite an awkward and incoherent one.

Renwick takes Victor, Margaret and Mrs Warboys over to Portugal and then, after seeming to realise belatedly that he ought not expose his regular characters to too much 'otherness' and give them something truly interesting to write home about, cannot find much that is safe for them to do except by chaperoning them along as they suffer - from the sun, the heat, the mosquitoes, the uninhabitable accommodation and the incomprehensible language - while the main, albeit distinctly half-hearted, storyline - involving a seedy and accident-prone paparazzo (played by Peter Cook) and the search for some lucrative celebrity snaps - goes on around and without them.

Victor gets followed everywhere by donkeys. Margaret sits back and ponders the passage of time. Mrs Warboys does get to flirt with an old pen pal, but even that brief - and somewhat bizarre - digression ends up drooping into a strange dribble of murky melodrama.

One Foot In The Grave. Image shows from L to R: Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson), Margaret Meldrew (Annette Crosbie). Copyright: BBC

It comes as quite a relief, therefore, when the whole thing staggers to a close. 'It's strange. I wasn't all that keen on coming to Portugal at first,' Margaret says with a sigh on their last day there together. 'But now that we're about to leave...I never want to see the bloody place again as long as I live.' 'Yes,' Victor replies sagely, 'that's the good thing about having a really miserable holiday - it makes the going home such a positive joy.'

They hadn't really needed to go off again, and take us with them, to come to that sobering conclusion. The point had already been made well enough in those earlier episodes.

A far more ingenious response would come some years later, in 2009, from the first series of Miranda. This sitcom heeded those past warnings about taking itself on holiday, while still acknowledging the traditional temptation to do so, by taking a holiday at home.

Subjected to the usual seasonal peer pressure to spirit herself off somewhere nice for a week or two, she eventually relents - but only to the extent of arranging a break at the hotel across the road. 'No travel, no language barrier: book!'

Miranda. Image shows from L to R: Jason (Luke Pasqualino), Miranda (Miranda Hart). Copyright: BBC

So she moves over, lies on the bed and watches all the films, has six baths, orders a succession of room service meals and even makes full use of the trouser press. Then things go wrong: there are mistaken identities, strange encounters, many selfies are taken, too much wine is drunk, a man called Colin quickly becomes very irritating and someone loses their trousers - all in all, not that different, in fact, from the average holiday abroad.

The best thing is: it all happens within the normal walls of the sitcom world. No would-be escapees need to be hunted down by the big bouncing balloon, no one is left unsettled by a dramatic change of scenery, none of the crucial connections between the characters are undermined by the allure of any foreign liaisons. No harm is done, and we can all now move along - nothing to see here as far as this holiday is concerned.

As comic compromises go, therefore, this is all rather satisfying. It is probably still a better idea, however, for our sitcoms simply to keep their holidays off screen.

We come to such shows neither for a change nor a rest. We come to them to watch the wheels go round.

So if any of them have to have a vacation, let it happen between series. We can do without having to sit through the holiday snaps.

We can make do with the simple and reassuring message:

'Normal service will be resumed after this short break.'


Comedy Chronicles will be back from its own Summer break later in September.

Are You Being Served? - The Movie

In this feature film, the employees of the Grace Brothers store take a fabulous staff holiday in Spain to encourage bonding and increase productivity. However, they fail to meet their training objectives with hilarious results. Not the best sitcom-to-film conversion!

First released: Sunday 24th September 2006

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If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

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On The Buses - The Complete Series

This behemoth of a release features all 74 episodes of On The Buses; the ultimate collector's set for fans of the classic comedy!

Starring Reg Varney as jack-the-lad bus driver Stan and Stephen Lewis as the long-suffering, dim-witted Inspector Blake (Blakey) who does his best to get the buses out in time whilst making their lives as miserable as possible.

First released: Monday 13th November 2006

  • Released: Monday 26th May 2008
  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 11
  • Catalogue: 7952842

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  • Released: Tuesday 21st November 2006
  • Region: 1
  • Discs: 11
  • Minutes: 1,200

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  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 11
  • Catalogue: 7952559

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Not in the UK?

Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

One Foot In The Grave - Series 1-6 Plus Christmas Specials

Victor Meldrew in all his grumpy glory!

This is the complete collection of the long-running BBC1 sitcom One Foot In The Grave.

Who would have thought retirement could be so chaotic? Certainly not querulous Victor Meldrew, one of tree-lined suburbia's perennial complainers, or his long suffering wife Margaret. When he's forced to take early retirement, Victor suddenly has plenty of time on his hands to rage against the petty annoyances of life. But there's one thing to remember in the Meldrew household - whatever can go wrong often does and it usually spells disaster for Victor...

First released: Monday 16th October 2006

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If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

Steptoe And Son / Steptoe And Son Ride Again

The rag and bone men from the popular TV series feature in this double bill of feature films. Steptoe And Son sees Harold trying to marry a glamorous stripper called Zita. Steptoe And Son Ride Again finds Harold receiving an assault from a buxom blonde whilst he is collecting her late husband's clothes.

This boxset is a re-packaged version of the 2003 double bill set.

First released: Monday 30th October 2006

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If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

The Complete Steptoe & Son

The classic 1960s British comedy series about a middle aged man and his elderly father who run an unsuccessful 'rag and bone' business. Harold (the son) wants to better himself but his father always seems to ruin things, sometimes accidentally and other times deliberately.

First released: Monday 29th October 2007

  • Released: Monday 31st October 2011
  • Distributor: 2 Entertain
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 13
  • Catalogue: BBCDVD3570

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If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

Please Sir! - The Complete Series

Every episode from Series 1-4 of the 1970s LWT sitcom starring John Alderton as Bernard Hedges, put-upon teacher of the wayward class 5C at Fenn Street School.

Hedges's lot is unenviable - nosey, jobsworth caretaker Norman Potter (Deryck Guyler) frustrates his every move with rules and regulations, student Maureen Bullock (Liz Gebhart) nurses a huge crush on him and the class's usual suspects, led by wide-boy Eric Duffy (Peter Cleal), run him ragged.

This set also includes the 1971 spin-off feature film, which centres on a chaotic trip to the country for the unruly class of 5C, who taunt a rival school, visit a pub and start huge food fights.

First released: Sunday 7th October 2007

  • Released: Monday 26th May 2008
  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 10
  • Minutes: 1,615
  • Catalogue: 7952893

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  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 10
  • Catalogue: 7952732

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Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

The Inbetweeners Movie 1 & 2

Double bill of feature-length spin-offs of the E4 sitcom following the life of socially awkward suburban teenager Will (Simon Bird) and three of his friends.

The Inbetweeners Movie (2011) follows 18-year-old Will and his schoolmates, Neil (Blake Harrison), Simon (Joe Thomas) and Jay (James Buckley), as they take off on a lads' holiday to Malia in Crete, where they go through all kinds of eye-opening and embarrassing rites of passage.

In The Inbetweeners 2 (2014), Will, Neil and Simon travel to Australia to reunite with Jay who is down under for a gap year. Will this holiday fare better than their last?

First released: Monday 1st December 2014

  • Distributor: 4DVD
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 2
  • Catalogue: F4DVD90149

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Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

Miranda - The Complete Boxset

All three series and the finale of the multi-award winning smash-hit sitcom are included in this Complete Box Set. This farcical and affectionate show sees the loveable Miranda muddling her way through life, and in her desperate attempts to fit in, creates some of the biggest laugh out loud moments in recent British comedy.

This ground-breaking sitcom is a clever, fresh and very funny look at the trials of modern life as a single person. Hilarious stories, recognisable situations, loveable characters and many surprises along the way. Join Miranda, her eccentric mother (Patricia Hodge), boarding school nemesis Tilly (Sally Phillips), long term crush Gary (Tom Ellis) and best friend Stevie (Sarah Hadland).

First released: Monday 26th October 2015

  • Distributor: 4DVD
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 4
  • Minutes: 583
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: C4SP016

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Not in the UK?

Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

The Likely Lads

Spinning off from the incredibly popular 1960s sitcom and its BAFTA-winning 1970s sequel, James Bolam and Rodney Bewes star as Terry Collier and Bob Ferris, two life-long friends with vastly different outlooks on life! Written by comedy legends Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais - who would go on to further success with series like Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet - The Likely Lads is presented here as a brand-new high definition transfer from the original film elements in its original theatrical aspect ratio.

Thelma's continued annoyance at her husband Bob's disruptive friend shows no sign of abating. But when Terry lands himself a new girlfriend Thelma sees her chance to finally get Terry married off and out of her and Bob's life forever! Her solution of touring the north of England in a caravan, however, leaves a lot to be desired...

First released: Monday 1st April 2019

  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: B
  • Discs: 1
  • Minutes: 90
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: 7958111

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  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Minutes: 86
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: 7954728

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Not in the UK?

Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

Big Screen British Comedy

Three of the most popular and long-running BBC comedy series hit the big screen in four film adaptations featuring the original casts - Dad's Army, Steptoe & Son, Steptoe And Son Ride Again and Are You Being Served? - three appearing on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere.

Dad's Army (1971)

Starring Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender, Bill Pertwee and Frank Williams.

Britain: 1939. Walmington-on-Sea. The defence of this tranquil coastal town is in the hands of bank manager Captain Mainwaring when he assembles a motley platoon to become the Home Guard.

The 1971 big-screen film version of the much-loved and long-running BBC comedy series.


Steptoe & Son (1972)

Starring Harry H. Corbett, Wilfrid Brambell and Carolyn Seymour.

The bright lights of the West End beckon for Harold when he marries a stripper, but his ever-resentful father tags along on their honeymoon bringing an end to wedded bliss.

The 1972 big-screen film version of the much-loved and long-running BBC comedy series.


Steptoe And Son Ride Again (1973)

Starring Harry H. Corbett, Wilfrid Brambell and Diana Dors.

The Steptoes' loyal, but past-it horse must be sent off to the knacker's yard. Instead of buying a new nag, a drunken Harold blows their savings on a greyhound in the belief it will win them a fortune.

The 1973 big screen sequel based on the much-loved and long-running BBC comedy series.


Are You Being Served? (1977)

Starring Mollie Sugden, John Inman, Frank Thornton, Trevor Bannister, Wendy Richard, Arthur Brough, Nicholas Smith, Andrew Sachs and Harold Bennett.

The staff of Grace Bros. Ladies and Gentlemen's departments head to the sun-kissed shores of the Costa Plonka for the holiday of a lifetime while the store is redecorated.

The 1977 big screen film version of the much-loved and long-running BBC comedy series.

First released: Wednesday 27th October 2021

  • Distributor: Imprint
  • Region: All
  • Discs: 4
  • Minutes: 388
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: IMP2767

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Not in the UK?

Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

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