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Martin is a committee man. He has numerous schemes and committees organised around the neighbourhood. He is so obsessive about every detail of everything he does he is driving his long suffering wife, Anne, slowly crazy. Then the new neighbour Paul arrives. He has a more worldly outlook than those who live under Martin's organisational spell. There is an immediate clash of personalities because Martin treats everything so seriously, but to Paul, life is for enjoying and not to be taken so seriously. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Briers has never been better in this Classic comedy series
Richard Briers has appeared in some terrific TV comedy series but this must surely be his best performance to date. His character, Martin Bryce, runs 'The Close', his local neighbourhood by organizing all the committees and cajoling his neighbours to take part in various activities. His job, at Mole Valley Valves is seen to be fairly humdrum. His wife (Penelope Wilton) just about puts up with his irritating, though well-meaning ways, but his dream world has a rude awakening with the arrival of new next door neighbour, Paul Ryman (Peter Egan). Paul is everything Martin is not that in that he is successful in business without seeming to bother, has played cricket at Lords, is handsome with a succession of beautiful girlfriends, has many 'mates' to help him pull strings and is charming to all and sundry.
The series shows Martin's vain attempts to prove he is the better man, often to his wife, Anne, but also to other neighbours from the close, notably Howard & Hilda Hughes. These two are another classic creation from writers Esmonde and Larbey. They do everything together, have a daily set routine which can never be interrupted and a genius for unintentional and innocent double-entendres usually only picked up by Paul and Anne. Howard (brilliantly portrayed by Stanley Lebor) is Martin's best friend but the latter cannot understand why he falls for Paul and his 'nice guy' image.
One of the funniest episodes of the series comes when Anne is in hospital for a few days and Martin boastfully promises to spring clean the house single-handedly in her absence. He uses charts, colour-coding and a stop-watch but everything goes wrong that could go wrong and it's Paul who inevitably has to come to the rescue. The series ended with a one-off extended edition which saw Anne expecting a baby (rather late in life) and the couple's move from The Close to Oswestry, brought about by the merger of Martin's firm.
An essential purchase on DVD for anybody who appreciates subtle comedy writing and great performances by the entire cast.
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