The pilot for 'Maggie & Her' was screened on I.T.V. on 13/8/76. It was nearly two years before it resurfaced in series form. Both starred Julia McKenzie and the priceless Irene Handl. McKenzie, then 35, played 'Maggie Brooks', a divorced school teacher living alone in a flat, while Handl, aged 76, was her nice but inquisitive neighbour, Mrs.Perry ( or 'Mrs.P' as she was known to all and sundry ). Mrs.P's flat was full of junk bought from mail-order firms. Like Hylda Baker's 'Nellie Pledge/Pickersgill', she spoke in malapropisms e.g. 'injection' instead of 'injunction' and 'goal' when she meant to say 'gaol' and so on. She had made it her business to look after Maggie's interests, particularly where men were concerned. Each episode saw Maggie embark tentatively on a new relationship, only for Mrs.P to either deliberately or unintentionally wreck it before it could get started.
It was a pleasant, inoffensive show, typical of London Weekend Television's comedy output of the period. The scripts were by Leonard Webb, who only had one other television writing credit to his name, a 1964 play entitled, curiously, 'Maggie'. One cannot claim that the writing was particularly brilliant, but it was worth watching for McKenzie and Handl, who sparked off each other well.
The pilot was called 'Poppy & Her'. I never understood why it was changed. Perhaps Webb felt 'Maggie' to be a more common name.
Also in the show were Carol Gillies as fearsome headmistress 'Miss Cartwright', and the delectable Moira Foot ( 'Effie' the whispering maid from L.W.T.'s 'Hark At Barker' ) as 'Virginia', Maggie's best friend.
Only two seasons were made. Whilst not hated, the show was not really loved either. Irene Handl went on to appear in ( heaven help us ) 'Metal Mickey', while McKenzie teamed up with Anton Rodgers for the popular 'Fresh Fields'( or as it was known in my house at the time, 'Stale Meadows' ). Interestingly, a few months after the transmission of Season 1, Yorkshire Television put out the similar-sounding 'Margie & Me', a one-off pilot starring Arthur Mullard and Betty Marsden. It caused a bit of confusion amongst continuity announcers; in particular, Arfon Haines Davies of H.T.V. who trailed it as follows: "Tomorrow night, at 7.15, you can see another hilarious episode of 'Margie & Her' starring Irene Handl and Arthur Mullard...".
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