Joking Apart. Image shows from L to R: Mark Taylor (Robert Bathurst), Becky Johnson (Fiona Gillies). Copyright: BBC
Joking Apart

Joking Apart

  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Two
  • 1991 - 1995
  • 13 episodes (2 series)

Stand-up comedian Mark is left by his wife. He must attempt to win Becky back, get revenge on her new man Trevor, and deal with her well-meaning but simple friends, Tracy and Robert. Stars Robert Bathurst, Fiona Gillies, Tracie Bennett, Paul Raffield and Paul Mark Elliott

Joking Apart trivia

The pilot was re-shot almost in its entirety to make the first episode of the full series. On the surface this seems in-efficient as the script and cast barely changed...

The decision was taken because the crew hated the original sets and the setting for Mark's stand-up routines were deemed too sparse.

A less important reason, but still a contributing factor for changing Mark and Becky's flat was that it allowed the new director, Bob Spiers, to choose a location for the external shots... one closer to where he lived!

Not many viewers realise that the stand-up routine sections are supposed to be imaginary and taking place just in Mark's head. Ironically if the cheap plain black background set from the pilot had been kept this might have been more apparent.

Although the show only attracted a small audience (which was likely due to bad scheduling) the series scored highly on the BBC's Appreciation Index.

Moffat's ex-wife "wasn't terribly pleased about her failed marriage being presented as a sitcom on BBC2 on Monday nights".

Source: The New York Times

After the pilot had been broadcast, the BBC expressed an interest in making a full series. However, as writer Steven Moffat had a contract to write a 3rd and 4th series of Press Gang it was not until 1992 that the full series was actually produced.

The DVD releases of Joking Apart are highly notable in that they have been organised by a fan of the series. When no distributors made any attempt to release the series, Craig Robins put up £30,000 of his own money to buy the rights to series one. Robins, a former TV editor, put in hundreds of hours of free time to digitally-restore the master tapes.

The filming on the second series of Joking Apart started before writer Steven Moffat had finished writing the series. He still had two to write, and only just managed to deliver the final one on the day of rehearsals.

Joking Apart was remade in Portugal, but the flashbacks were dropped.

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