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Recently the BBC held a poll on what the British people considered to be the jewel in the crown of British sitcoms. Number One was not surprisingly Only Fools and Horses. Although very funny indeed and starring the best performers in the business, there are other sitcoms which were more deserving of this high honour.
One of these is Just Good Friends. What I find amazing is that this gem of a sitcom was penned by John Sullivan who also wrote 'Fools and Horses' yet this effort only seems to have scraped into the top fifty in the number forty-three position.
Again I put this down to ignorance. The British public these days seem to have forgotten all that is in our great past and constantly fail to acknowledge anything other than what is force-fed them on a daily basis or what they can find at the end of their noses.
Only Fools and Horses is still given regular repeats on the BBC and on satellite channels and although the first episode was screened 23 years ago, two years before Just Good Friends came into being, there is still enough of them around today to continue wetting our appetites and therefore it still holds our interest.
However, Just Good Friends, which I will hereafter refer to as "JGF" to save time and wrist-ache, has not been given this same preferential treatment. It is rarely seen on our screens nowadays and only now, despite it's age has it been available to buy on DVD or video, and then through a company other than the BBC.
Why is this show treated this way? It is my opinion that it is one of the funniest shows ever.
Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis are outstanding in their roles as the ex-lovers who are reunited five years after he jilted her at the alter. Vincent is the cockney, unreliable, Jack-the-lad with a witty one-liner for every occasion and Penny is the posh, prim and proper lady who despite her reserved exterior still manages to ooze pure sexuality from every pore.
We are thereafter blessed with three series' and twenty-two episodes where their up/down, on/off and occasionally in/out relationship has us in hysterics and sometimes tears as they come to realize that whatever love threw them together in the first place is still strong and cannot be ignored.
They were surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, especially Sylvia Kay and John Ringham as Penny's upper class parents, who sometimes steal the entire episode.
Sylvia's portrayal of Daphne, is fantastic...a snob to the core. She hates Vince and everything about him, yet who can blame her? After all he failed to turn up to his own wedding leaving her only daughter heartbroken and humiliated. However, it is entertaining in certain episodes to learn that she too has had her share of "Vincents" during her life time and was once herself a slave to the same kind of excitement and 'off the cuff' lifestyle.
John Ringham however is the lovable Norman who dotes on his daughter and is hen-pecked by his wife. Despite their past, he quietly supports Penny in her quest for love with Vince and at times he genuinely seems to like him. He is the kind of understanding and practical father, I myself had and at times you just feel like cuddling him to death.
As sitcoms go, this has more ingredients than most and relies heavily on the clever writing and the deliverance of the jokes compared with others where the humour is mainly visual and physical . We have a battle of the sexes not only between Vince and Penny, but between both sets of parents, we have culture and class differences which always makes for great comedy and we have a genuine love story which never fails to boost ratings on T.V or film.
It is so touching to see such love between two people, for no matter how selfish and ignorant Vince can be, or how snobby and disagreeable Penny can be, they always return to each other because their love overcomes everything else.
If you love romantic comedy films like I do, then JGF is a real treat of a show because if you had the time, the inclination and a comfortable enough seat, you can watch each episode back to back and have the best romantic comedy film ever, running a staggering eleven hours. "Bring it on" thats what I say.
Compare this true but often ignored great with the funny but somewhat over rated 'Fools and Horses' You'll probably find this one is better. I do.
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