Shelley. James Shelley (Hywel Bennett). Copyright: Thames Television.

Shelley

ITV sitcom about a workshy man. 71 episodes (10 series), 1979 - 1992. Stars Hywel Bennett, Belinda Sinclair and Josephine Tewson.

Shelley. James Shelley (Hywel Bennett). Copyright: Thames Television.

Shelley - 40th Anniversary Quiz

On 12 July 1979 Thames sitcom Shelley aired for the first time.

Created and written by Peter Tilbury, it starred Hywel Bennett as James Shelley, a sarcastic, sardonic, anti-establishment, anti-work, philosophising 28-year-old with a doctoral degree. He and girlfriend Fran Smith (Belinda Sinclair) lodged at Mrs Hawkins's (Josephine Tewson) boarding house in north-west London in the initial series, later marrying and moving into their own home, where they became parents to a daughter. Unfortunately, Shelley's penchant for being lazy became a bone of contention with Fran and they separated.

Shelley was one of ITV's longest-running and most acclaimed sitcoms, concluding after ten series and thirteen years, including a break of nearly five years between Series 6 and 7. After Series 3 Tilbury left as writer, with Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin and Barry Pilton penning most of the rest of the run.

Test your knowledge about sitcom's most well-educated layabout: a man who sat down for what he believed in.

Shelley. Image shows from L to R: James Shelley (Hywel Bennett), Frances Smith/Shelley (Belinda Sinclair). Copyright: Thames Television.

1. Who composed the series' catchy whistled theme tune?

a) Ron Grainer
b) Ronnie Hazelhurst
c) Max Harris

2. In the first episode we learn that Shelley has been unemployed for how many weeks?

a) 49
b) 59
c) 69

3. In which subject does Shelley have a PhD?

a) English
b) Geography
c) History

Shelley. James Shelley (Hywel Bennett). Copyright: Thames Television.

4. What was Shelley's first job after leaving university in 1976?

a) Advertising copywriter
b) Barman
c) Bean packer

5. True or false: just two weeks prior to beginning his job at the Foreign Office, Shelley is made redundant by them.

6. Why does Shelly's old school friend and best man Paul England call him by the nickname 'Percy'?

7. At the end of series three, Shelley and Fran become parents - what name do they christen their daughter?

a) Emma
b) Emelia
c) Emily

Shelley. Copyright: Thames Television.

8. Which comic performer made a guest appearance as a drunk in the Series 6 episode Owed To The Electricity?

a) Fulton Mackay
b) Jimmy Jewel
c) Max Wall

9. In The Return Of Shelley (Series 7), James arrives back in London after having been away for four years teaching English in a number of countries. But which country had he flown in from?

a) Iraq
b) Kuwait
c) Saudi Arabia

10. In the final two series Shelley rents a room from widower Ted Bishop, whose house is the only one left standing in the street because he refuses to sell to land developers. What do they plan to build?

a) Supermarket and community centre
b) Airport
c) Hypermarket and leisure centre

Answers

Shelley. Image shows from L to R: James Shelley (Hywel Bennett), Frances Smith/Shelley (Belinda Sinclair). Copyright: Thames Television.

When you're ready, scroll down for the answers...

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1. a: The composer was Ron Grainer, whose other credits include Steptoe And Son.

2. c: Sixty-nine weeks is a rather long time to be claiming dole!

3. b: James's PhD is in geography.

4. c: In what sounds a thrilling career move, Shelley's first job was indeed as a bean packer.

5. True. Government efficiency in action!

6. It is the first name of celebrated romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

7. a: Emma Shelley is James and Fran's daughter.

8. c: He isn't hugely well remembered now, but during the mid 20th Century Max Wall was a huge comedy star.

9. b: James returned from Kuwait, just a couple of months after the end of an 8-year war in the region between Iraq and Iran, in which Kuwait had supported the former.

10. c: A sticky situation that many still find themselves in every year!


Shelley - The Complete Series 7 - 10

Shelley - The Complete Series 7 - 10

Returning from a near-five-year hiatus, Hywel Bennett stars once again as James Shelley, the erudite, philosophically inclined idler who elevated work-avoidance to an art form through its initial and massively popular six series run in the early 1980s.

These further series (initially titled The Return Of Shelley) see the graduate and 'freelance layabout' returning to the UK after a stint teaching English abroad. When he left, the social landscape was changing fast - and now he's shocked to see by how much. Middle-aged slobs have been banned from their origins, Yuppiedom is the name of the new game, and the only thing that's real is estate; an unforgiving new world personified by Shelley's frighteningly energetic new landlords, Carol and Graham...

Featuring guest appearances from James Grout, Sean Gilder, Stephen Tompkinson, Clive Swift and Alex Jennings among many others, this set contains every episode screened between 1988 and 1992, including the 1991 New Year special.

First released: Monday 13th November 2017

  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 5
  • Minutes: 800
  • Catalogue: 7954795

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Shelley - The Complete Series 1 - 6

Shelley - The Complete Series 1 - 6

Hywel Bennett stars as James Shelley: an erudite, highly articulate graduate and bone-idle skiver who spends his days pondering life's philosophical implications whilst dodging the bureaucratic machinery that has the gall to insist that he actually work for a living. At the series' outset he shares a little North London bedsit with girlfriend Fran, but his life of reflective slothfulness comes increasingly under threat from the attentions of the labour exchange and the pressing realities of fatherhood, home-ownership, marriage and divorce...

A huge success for ITV running for a total of ten series over thirteen years, Shelley features a masterful performance by Bennett with regular appearances by Warren Clarke and Garfield Morgan, and guest turns from Kenneth Cope, Alan Rickman, Leslie Ash, Fulton MacKay and James Grout, among many others.

This set contains every episode of the initial run of six series, including the 1980 Christmas Special.

First released: Monday 13th November 2017

  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 6
  • Minutes: 975
  • Catalogue: 7954794

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Published: Friday 12th July 2019