The Rebel. Henry Palmer (Simon Callow). Copyright: Retort
The Rebel

The Rebel

  • TV sitcom
  • Gold
  • 2016 - 2017
  • 9 episodes (2 series)

Sitcom starring Simon Callow as a rebellious pensioner. Also features Bill Paterson, Anita Dobson, Amit Shah, Anna Crilly and Vivian Oparah

Episode menu

Series 1, Episode 1 - Law

The Rebel. Image shows from L to R: Margaret (Anita Dobson), Charles (Bill Paterson), Henry Palmer (Simon Callow). Copyright: Retort
Following a reluctant visit to see his doctor, Henry witnesses a robbery and gives chase - only to be accused of homophobia by a do-gooder policeman, whom he then assaults!

Preview clips

Further details

Henry visits his GP, Dr. McGill, but only at the insistence of his daughter Cath and under protest. He doesn't want to be there; he feels as fit as a fiddle, even though everyone keeps reminding him he's 70.

Dr. McGill diagnoses possible depression and Henry puts her blood pressure apparatus in her sharps bin when she's not looking. She prescribes anti-depressants which Henry refuses to take and he storms out.

Henry pays his daily visit to the charity shop run by Margaret. While trying on a waistcoat, his best friend Charles comes in looking for a stress toy for his gerbil. Henry buys him an old teddy bear which Margaret picks out. As she opens the till, a bearded thief steals its contents.

Henry gives chase, brandishing the teddy bear... Henry confronts the thief who tries to take the bear off him. Witnessed by PC Burns, the useless policeman accuses Henry of a homophobic attack. Henry assaults him with the teddy bear and is arrested.

Cath is furious and suggests he apologise to the nice policeman in the hope of just getting a caution. Infuriated, Henry decides to go on a rebellious rampage, setting fire to a cash point in a protest against the banks, smashing a supermarket window and desecrating a font.

He ends up in court. Determined to make his rebellious point he represents himself. Despite his best efforts to go to prison... the judge has other ideas. Adjourning to the judge's chambers he discovers they went to school together. The judge is determined to let Henry off for the sake of the old school's reputation. However, Henry has other ideas...

Broadcast details

Wednesday 20th July 2016
40 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Friday 22nd July 2016 9:40pm Gold
Sunday 24th July 2016 10:20pm Gold
Monday 25th July 2016 9:20pm Gold
Wednesday 7th September 2016 10:00pm Gold
Thursday 9th February 2017 10:00pm Gold
Wednesday 1st March 2017 9:20pm Gold
Wednesday 1st November 2017 10:00pm Gold
Friday 3rd November 2017 9:20pm Gold
Tuesday 22nd January 2019 1:55am Gold
Friday 6th March 2020 3:00am Gold
Saturday 7th March 2020 2:45am Gold
Wednesday 11th March 2020 2:55am Gold
Saturday 20th June 2020 3:10am Gold
Tuesday 9th March 2021 2:40am Gold
Saturday 13th March 2021 2:30am Gold
Friday 19th March 2021 3:00am Gold
Sunday 4th July 2021 2:50am Gold
Saturday 2nd October 2021 1:10am Gold
Tuesday 19th October 2021 2:55am Gold
Tuesday 11th January 2022 1:10am Gold
Tuesday 8th March 2022 1:35am Gold
Tuesday 17th January 2023 3:25am Gold
Friday 10th February 2023 3:20am Gold
Tuesday 21st May 2024 2:30am Gold

Cast & crew

Simon Callow Henry Palmer
Bill Paterson Charles
Anita Dobson Margaret
Amit Shah Jeremy
Anna Crilly Cath
Guest cast
Doon Mackichan Doctor McGill
Philip Cumbus PC Burns
Nila Aalia Jane
James Millard Court Official
Simon Williams Judge 'Scabby' Pawson
Clara Indrani Ms Budaly for the Prosecution
Writing team
Andrew Birch Writer
Production team
Vadim Jean Director
Vadim Jean Producer
Simon Lupton Executive Producer
Jon Rolph Executive Producer
Tanya Qureshi Executive Producer
Daniel Gethic Editor
Adrian Smith Production Designer
David Isaac Feldstein Composer


Remembering The Past

Henry and Charles chat.

Featuring: Simon Callow (Henry Palmer) & Bill Paterson (Charles).

Henry Attacks A Policeman

A policeman gets in the way of Henry's mission.

Featuring: Simon Callow (Henry Palmer), Nila Aalia (Jane), Philip Cumbus (PC Burns) & Doon Mackichan (Doctor McGill).


In The Rebel we rubbed up against the ageing population again. This time in the form of 70-year-old anarchic ex-mod Henry Palmer, played with characteristic booming glee by Simon Callow. A new sitcom adapted by Private Eye cartoonist Andrew Birch from his own cartoon strip series, there were some nice spiky moments and lots of proper swearing and other mildly radical things that no British person can wholly dislike. Such as Palmer beating a police officer with a teddy bear, blowing up an ATM, smashing a shopping trolley into a supermarket, and shouting: "Gay, my arse!" while representing himself in court. Lots of deckchair smashing, Pink Floyd, and no mention of data whatsoever ensued. Some things don't change.

Chitra Ramaswamy, The Guardian, 21st July 2016

Untimely new comedy courting the grey vote with the dubious premise of: "Here, when you're old, you're nobody." Simon Callow plays permanently furious baby-boomer Henry who, when not being menaced by faceless youths on skateboards, rails against any suggestion that he should act his age. The targets are soft (political correctness, fancy coffee shops) and the lead character isn't sympathetic enough to gain real traction. A Victor Meldrew for the post-Brexit era? No, thanks.

Phil Harrison, The Guardian, 20th July 2016

The Rebel review

The key difference with The Rebel and One Foot In The Grave: Meldrew was battered by external forces driving him to distraction, but Palmer is the architect of his own fury. Plus you could never see Meldrew pogoing to The Jam in his living room.

Steve Bennett, Chortle, 20th July 2016

These hot summer months are the dog days of TV schedules, with only a few new series starting. One noteworthy exception is Gold's The Rebel, a spikier, angrier One Foot In The Grave starring Simon Callow as an elderly ex-mod who never quite lost his appetite for seafront contretemps.

The language is on the ripe side of realistic, the scripts sometimes betray their cartoon origins - The Rebel started as a strip in The Oldie - and the dialogue given to Bill Paterson as Callow's ex-hippy pal is a bit on the clich├ęd side, but any show that lets old stagers like Callow, Paterson and former EastEnder Anita Dobson have this much fun is a good watch.

Michael Moran, BT, 20th July 2016

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