The Rag Trade. Image shows from L to R: Harold Fenner (Peter Jones), Paddy Fleming (Miriam Karlin). Copyright: BBC.

The Rag Trade

BBC One and ITV sitcom about trade relations. 58 episodes (5 series), 1961 - 1978. Stars Peter Jones, Miriam Karlin, Reg Varney, Christopher Beeny and others.

Series 4

1. Stay In Strike

First broadcast: Sunday 11th September 1977

A German client is keen to buy from Fenner, but insists on inspecting the workforce before sealing the deal. That's something easier said than done, especially when the girls go on strike at the introduction of a clocking in-and-out system!


2. The Sample

First broadcast: Sunday 18th September 1977

Kathy's boyfriend is in town and invites her out for lunch at the Hilton. With nothing suitable to wear, the girls slip her into a sample dress - however, Fenner's due to show it to a buyer at 3pm. Will she get back in time?


3. Fixing The Rate

First broadcast: Sunday 25th September 1977

With production levels dropping off a cliff and and wages on the rise, Fenner attempts to time the girls on a new job. Fixing his clock to run fast and therefore set a higher wage rate, the girls only find that he is unable to sell their wares to anyone as they're too expensive!


4. The Lunch Problem

First broadcast: Sunday 2nd October 1977

Amidst rising prices, the girls demand a 'London food allowance' added to their wages, or a subsidised canteen. Eventually Fenner relents and allows them to have an eating area in the workshop to bring food from home, but when he takes a potential client out to lunch they take a few liberties!


5. The Export Order

First broadcast: Sunday 9th October 1977

It's Kathy's birthday, and her boyfriend takes the entire sewing room out for a boozy lunch to celebrate. However, they're supposed to be working on a timely order to be exported to New York that very afternoon! When they come back late and much worse-for-wear, Fenner's Fashions faces a crisis.


6. The Italian Line

First broadcast: Sunday 16th October 1977

Fenner hires an Italian specialist to oversee production of a new Italian line. Paddy and the girls are far from impressed - until they see what he looks like! Kathy and Paddy are soon vying for his affections...


7. Olive's Baby

First broadcast: Sunday 23rd October 1977

Olive's husband is working nights so she is forced to bring her crying baby into work, lest he be disturbed. The young one's crying presence does not amuse Mr. Fenner either, especially with an important sample to show to an American client.


8. The Wedding Dress

First broadcast: Sunday 30th October 1977

Kath announces her engagement to 'Big Jim'; and it's got to be soon before they head overseas for his new job! The girls decide they'd be best-placed to make her dress for the big day, but the dragonly Mrs. Fenner is in the shop all week overseeing a stock-take. A bit of Saturday morning work is called for.


9. The Sideline

First broadcast: Sunday 6th November 1977

Producing a new line of fur coats causes unease in the workshop - at least until Paddy's new boyfriend sees a toy panda that Olive has made with the scraps, and offers them a lucrative rate to make dozens more!


10. The Guvnor's Wife

First broadcast: Sunday 13th November 1977

Mrs. Fenner's due in to pick up a dress the girls are making for her. But a new intercom system lands Harold right in it when he tries to gee the workers along in their frustrations about his wife, and she overhears every word!


11. The New Girl

First broadcast: Sunday 20th November 1977

Frustrating about the lack of efficiency and number of mistakes made on days when he's not in the building, Fenner hires a new girl, the haughty Miss Burleigh, to act as supervisor on his behalf. Paddy is outraged at the thought of being spied upon, and resolves that if they can't have their little liberties, neither can the management...


12. The Bet

First broadcast: Sunday 27th November 1977

A customer - British Chain Stores - is sending an inspector to check out Fenner's workroom. Efforts to spruce up surroundings are delayed when the girls notice that horses 'Paddy' and 'Union' are due to run. Surely it's a sign and a certain bet?


13. The Accident

First broadcast: Sunday 4th December 1977

When Kathy falls off a chair and injures her shoulder, leg, arm and foot during, Paddy realises that she won't be able to claim any compensation as it was during the lunch break and not in the line of her job. The girls plot to stage an incident in front of Fenner to hide her existing pain and get some cash.


14. The New Brother

First broadcast: Sunday 11th December 1977

Fenner hires a specialist Indian hand-embroiderer to help the machine-trained girls complete the company's latest range of dresses. When she arrives, they're shocked by how sheltered and unworldly she is, and resolve to teach her - particularly about sex! Her husband, however, is less than pleased.


Christmas Special: Christmas Rush

First broadcast: Saturday 24th December 1977

It's the last working day before Christmas, and the girls are rushing to finish off a batch of "seconds" for the sales. Meanwhile, Fenner sends his wife and Paddy out to buy presents for each other, and Tony's hoping for a snog with Lyn.


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