About A Bit Of A Do
The series A Bit Of A Do came about when David Nobbs was commissioned by David Cunliffe, then Head of Drama at Yorkshire Television, to write six hours of television about any subject that he chose. Nobbs was by this point residing in Herefordshire and drew on the functions that he was invited to attend as inspiration for his writing. He initially intended to use the ideas for a series entitled Love And Marriage but when this fell by the wayside, A Bit Of A Do was born.
Nobbs immediately set about coming up with settings for each episode and decided that the series should begin and end with a wedding. The remaining dos would be a dentists' dinner dance, a charity horse racing evening, an angling club party and Miss Ball-Bearing '83. The writer's disapproval of battery farming led him to replace the last of these events with 'Miss Frozen Chicken U.K.'.
When the scripts were presented to Yorkshire Television they requested only one alteration: that one do would be at a Bar Mitzvah. With Nobbs not being Jewish, he declined on the grounds that he felt unqualified to write about the subject. The following year Nobbs returned to Yorkshire; the same request was made and again the writer demurred.
With the possibility of a television series now seeming bleak, Nobbs decided to adapt the scripts that he had written into a novel. It was duly published in 1986 and its impressive sales led Yorkshire to reconsider and commission a series.
The character of Rita had been written with Gwen Taylor in mind and she was duly cast in the role. Nobbs suggested Michael Jayston for the part of Neville, and Paul Chapman - who had earlier appeared in the same writer's Fairly Secret Army series - was cast as dentist Stephen. The casting of David Jason as pompous foundry owner Ted Simcock also proved a great coup for the show.
The all-star cast guaranteed the show a significant audience and when the first series was broadcast in 1989 it garnered almost 15 million viewers. Critics were also complimentary with many praising the subtle blend of comedy and pathos and the non-linear style of the series.
Yorkshire Television were understandably keen for A Bit Of A Do to continue but this proved to be problematic. David Jason, having read a one-page synopsis of the second series, feared that his character was becoming secondary to the show and had to be persuaded to remain involved. David Thewlis meanwhile, feared that he would become typecast and so quit his role as Paul.
The second series came to broadcast in late 1989 and again proved successful. David Nobbs later admitted however that this series had not quite the integrity of the first, and that it was becoming more and more difficult to contrive ways in which the group would meet. The series therefore ended at this point but Nobbs did pen the book, 'Fair Dos' to tie up the characters' stories.
The show's achievements were emphasised by it receiving several awards including The Royal Television Society's Drama Series Award in 1989, Top British Television Comedy Award at the British Comedy Awards in 1990 and Top British ITV and Channel 4 sitcom award. Nobbs was also awarded a special award for his contributions to comedy writing.
In the years since first being shown television, A Bit Of A Do has retained its reputation as one of ITV's most impressive comedy shows and this has led to both series being issued as a DVD boxset.