Patrick Woodford has been married six times. All of his marriages have failed. Now he's planning to divorce his sixth wife, Helen. Later, he thinks of remarrying his first wife, Elizabeth. ...
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Patrick Woodford has been married six times. All of his marriages have failed. Now he's planning to divorce his sixth wife, Helen. Later, he thinks of remarrying his first wife, Elizabeth. Meanwhile, his other ex-wives keep popping in and out of his life. Written by
The hit Thames show 'Father Dear Father' ended in 1973. Its star, Patrick Cargill, stayed away from television for three years, before finally agreeing to do another sitcom, one which credited him as co-creator. 'The Many Wives Of Patrick' was made by London Weekend Television and cast him as 'Patrick Woodford', an antiques dealer based in Bond Street. He has been married six times; firstly to 'Elisabeth' ( Ursula Howells ), then to 'Nancy' ( Elspet Gray ), then to French 'Josephine' ( Wendy Williams ), then to 'Laura' ( Bridget Armstrong ), then to American 'Betsy' ( Lorna Dallas ), and finally to 'Helen' ( Elisabeth Councell ). At the start of the series, he wants to ditch Helen because she irritates him so much, and remarry Wife No.1 Elisabeth. Unfortunately, he is not rich enough to initiate divorce proceedings, so he must find a way to make her want to divorce him.
The show was written by Richard Waring, author of a number of popular sitcoms such as 'Marriage Lines', 'Not In Front Of The Children', 'Batchelor Father', and 'Rings On Their Fingers'. These shows, while eminently watchable, aren't terribly funny, and 'Many Wives' is no exception. To make the comedy work, Waring had to have all of Patrick's ex-wives conveniently living within walking distance of him. His door-bell rang so often it was a wonder it was not broken from over-use. Furthermore, his children kept showing up, and they came across as clones of his 'Father Dear Father' daughters ( two were played by Wendy Padbury and Julie Dawn Cole ). Plots revolved around forgotten birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. Our hero had help from his overworked assistant 'Harold' ( Robin Parkinson ). A picture in Patrick's study could be reversed to show a complex diagram of the Woodford family tree! If his first wife ( Elisabeth ) looked familiar, it was to be expected, as she was played by Ursula Howells, who was also his first wife 'Barbara' in 'F.D.F.'! In another nod to that show's 'Mother' character, 'Many Wives' gave Patrick a formidable matriarch in the shape of 'Marian' ( Agnes Lauchlan ). As Patrick wryly noted in the opening credits: "Its a full life!".
The opening titles featured photo portraits of the wives. But one was deliberately obscured, as the actress playing 'Betsy' had not yet been cast. In Season 3, she appeared in the shape of singer Lorna Dallas, setting up a plot ( which was never resolved ) in which she informs Patrick that their quickie divorce in Winnamucca Flats, America was not legal, hence they have both been committing bigamy without realising. 'Many Wives' went down well - though did not last as long as 'F.D.F' - running to a total of three seasons, and inspiring an unsuccessful American version of the same title. Granada Plus repeated it in the late 90's. If 'middle of the road' comedy is your cup of tea, 'Many Wives' is for you. I will probably buy it when it comes out on D.V.D., but won't be making a strenuous effort to do so.
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