The pilot show starred Ronnie Barker, and was shown as part of his series 7 of 1 (1973). The BBC failed to develop it as a series, and it was picked up by Yorkshire Television as a vehicle for Clive Dunn. See more »
'My Old Man', an edition of 'Seven Of One', was shown on BBC-2 on 8/4/73. Ronnie Barker starred as former engine driver 'Sam Cobbett', a cantankerous old codger turfed out of his house in Ironmonger Row by the council, and who moves in with daughter Doris ( Ann Beach ) and her grumpy husband Arthur ( the late Larry Martyn ) in their high-rise flat. Arthur sees Sam's presence as an unwelcome intrusion and does not get on with him at all.
The humour largely arose from Sam's efforts to adjust to his new surroundings. For instance, he calls in at the local pub and is appalled to find the barman Cyril ( Robin Parkinson ) is gay. But he bumps into an old friend in the shape of Willie ( Leslie Dwyer ) and they have a good old Cockney sing-song. Like the later 'Victor Meldrew', given half a chance Sam could still misbehave.
It was not bad, it was merely that the other shows were superior. 'Prisoner & Escort' and 'Open All Hours' both led to series. When 'My Old Man' was not picked up, writer Gerald Frow took the idea to Yorkshire Television. Ronnie Barker was under contract to the B.B.C., so with 'Dad's Army' still in production at that time, they turned it into a vehicle for Clive Dunn. They were keen to cash in on the success of Jimmy Perry and David Croft's sitcom, and had earlier lured over James Beck to make 'Romany Jones'.
Dunn played 'Sam' in much the same manner as 'Jonesy', as a lovable bumbling old fool, but with a flat cap and a woollen scarf replacing a hat and rifle. Taking the place of Larry Martyn was Edward Hardwicke, one of the stars of the first season of B.B.C.'s 'Colditz' ( he played 'Major Pat Grant' ). Priscilla Morgan, Dunn's real-life wife, took over Ann Beach's role as his daughter! Keith Chegwin played Sam's grandson 'Ron'.
The first episode of 'My Old Man' was a virtual remake of the 'Seven Of One' original. Dunn sang the theme song: "My old man, are you off to get your pension, my old man? With your sandwiches curled, your brolly badly furled, you're off to change the world, my old man.'.
Critics grumbled at the change-over, and tried to compare the ways that Ronnie and Clive tackled the role. A few noticed a similarity in the basic premise to that of 'Spring & Autumn', a Vince Powell sitcom starring Jimmy Jewel which had debuted the year before. I personally was reminded of Dick Emery's 'Lampwick' sketches. But it was sufficiently popular to run to two seasons.
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