British Comedy Guide

All Gas And Gaiters. Image shows from L to R: Henry - The Archdeacon (Robertson Hare), The Rt. Rev. Dr. Cuthbert Hever - The Bishop (William Mervyn), The Rev. Mervyn Noote - The Chaplain (Derek Nimmo). Copyright: BBC.

All Mouth And Trousers

All Mouth And Trousers

Radio 4 comedy drama about the creation of the TV sitcom All Gas And Gaiters

Comedy Drama
BBC Radio 4
Pauline Devaney, Edwin Apps, Lily-Fleur Bradbury, James Joyce, John Sessions, Nicholas Boulton, Gareth Williams, Trevor Littledale and others
Mark Burgess
David Blount
David Blount

Between 1966 and 1971, TV's first ecclesiastical comedy, All Gas And Gaiters, was regularly enjoyed by over 10 million viewers. The series starred veteran farce actor Robertson Hare as the sherry-tippling Archdeacon, William Mervyn as the bombastic Bishop wedded to his comforts, Derek Nimmo in the role that made him a star as the Bishop's Chaplain Noote, and John Barron as the stern, rule-bound Dean.

In this comedy, written by Mark Burgess, the sitcom's writers, Pauline Devaney and Edwin Apps, play themselves. They recall being asked to submit a script to BBC TV's Comedy Playhouse slot by their friend, fledgling TV director Stuart Allen, and their subsequent struggle to create the fictional world of St. Ogg's Cathedral Close and its eccentric inhabitants. The pilot episode of what was to become All Gas And Gaiters was titled The Bishop Rides Again.

Not least of Pauline's problems, was her concern that the almost exclusively male-dominated world of BBC Television in the 1960s would not take the comedic writing talents of a young woman seriously. For this reason - and the fact that both she and Edwin wished to keep their acting careers and writing work separate - The Bishop Rides Again was submitted to the BBC under the pseudonym, John Wraith.

The then Head of Comedy, Frank Muir, knew Wraith's true identity, but the eventual revelation of Pauline's significant contribution to the creative process was greeted with surprised amazement by BBC Light Entertainment executives and cast members alike.

Production data

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