'Please Sir!' made John Alderton into a household name. He left the L.W.T. show at the start of its fourth and final season in 1971. His next sitcom role would be as 'George Bassett' in the B.B.C.-.1 show 'My Wife Next Door'. George and Suzy ( the lovely Hannah Gordon ) are newly divorced, and move to the countryside. But - in one of those incredible coincidences you only ever find in sitcoms - they find they have unknowingly bought cottages next door to each other. Each tosses a coin to see who will move out. Neither does, and they have to make the best of a bad situation.
It was like a middle-class 'Love Thy Neighbour' minus the racial element. When I tell you that Tim Barrett played George's friend and colleague 'Henry', Diana King played Suzy's mother, and Mollie Sugden was cast as George's mother, you should be able to correctly guess what it was like. It was one of several middle of the road sitcoms penned by the late Richard Waring, whose other credits include 'Not In Front Of The Children' starring Wendy Craig, 'The Many Wives Of Patrick' with Patrick Cargill, 'Rings On Their Fingers' with Martin Jarvis and Diane Keen, and 'Marriage Lines' with Richard Briers and Prunella Scales - shows that somehow managed to pull off the trick of being pleasantly amusing without ever being particularly funny. The basic idea for 'Door' was co-credited to Brian Clemens, best known for his work on 'The Avengers' series.
Middle of the road or not, it topped the ratings in 1972, helped along by the the charm of its stars. William Franklyn and 'Dad's Army' star James Beck made one-off guest appearances. Rather like the later 'To The Manor Born', there was an element of 'will they, won't they' to the show. As it progressed, George and Suzy stopped hating one another, and their love slowly rekindled. In the last episode, they raced to prevent the divorce from becoming final. It meant that there was no chance of a second series, but that did not matter as the comic possibilities had more or less been exhausted by then. In one episode as I recall, George and Suzy had to pretend to be still wed so as not to upset an elderly relative.
The thirteen episodes were repeated well into the '80's. 'U.K. Gold' ran it several times, but its continuing absence from D.V.D. is perplexing. If it were to become available, I would buy it, mainly for the pleasure of seeing Alderton and Gordon at their best.
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