As 'Not The Nine O'Clock News' so cynically pointed out, sofas figured prominently in a number of '70's/early '80's sitcoms, and when there were no sofas around we got desks instead. One series that featured neither sofas or desks was the short-lived 'Paradise Island', made by Thames. Created by design engineer Michael Haley ( who also wrote the pilot ), it was about two men of widely differing personality marooned on a tropical island in the Pacific following a shipwreck. They were 'Cuthbert Fullworthy' ( William 'Sch...you know who' Franklyn ), whose main hobbies are alcohol, gambling and women, and 'The Rev.Alexander Goodwin' ( Bill Maynard ), a bespectacled, pious priest. It was a two-hander, a sort of 'Odd Couple' with palm trees. Fullworthy wanted nothing more than to get off the island and resume his hedonistic lifestyle, while Goodwin seemed to think their plight was the Almighty's divine judgement. He made various attempts to convert the other man, prompting Fullworthy to snap one week: "I wouldn't join your lot even if you offered to make me Pope!".
You will not be surprised to learn that the 'island' on which the series was set was in fact a mock-up in a studio. Perhaps mindful of Haley's lack of experience as a comedy writer, other people, such as Vince Powell, Brian Cooke, John Junkin, and Alan Melville, were used. The resulting show was a little inconsistent. After all, how many funny episodes can you get out of two blokes on an island? ( The U.S. series 'Gilligan's Island' got round this by having a largish cast, and numerous guest-stars ).
The bit that sticks out in my memory comes from the Alan Melville-penned episode. An ecstatic Fullworthy finds a transistor radio washed up on the beach. He switches it on, only to hear...'Desert Island Discs'! Ironically, 'Paradise Island' shared the same theme tune as that long-running B.B.C. radio show.
The final episode saw the castaways still stranded, leaving the door open for further episodes that never materialised. An interesting change from the usual I.T.V. sitcom fare, then. Perhaps if a sofa had been found washed up on the beach the show might have been a hit!
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