'The Magnifcent Evans' is a short lived sitcom from 1984 which was written by Roy Clarke and starred Ronnie Barker as larger than life photographer Plantagenet Evans. Compared to Barker's earlier work, Evans is perhaps his least fondly remembered sitcom role and without wishing to be unkind it is not completely hard to see why. 'The Magnifcent Evans', although far from being a shameful abhorrence, is certainly not one of the high points of Barker's career.
Meet Plantagenet Evans, a sharp tongued, flamboyantly dressed Welsh photographer who lives in sin with his attractive fiancée and secretary Rachel Harris ( Sharon Morgan ), who is also under the watchful eyes of her prying sister Bron ( the late Myfanwy Talog ) and brother-in-law Probert ( William Thomas ), both of whom disapprove strongly of Rachel's way of living. Whenever questioned about her sleeping arrangements with Evans, Rachel constantly shrieks ''I have my own apartment!''.
Though Evans is a brilliant photographer, his arrogance and tactlessness often overshadows the success of his business. In one episode, he offended a female customer with squint eyes by saying that her affliction would ruin the photo: ''You'll look like an overdressed question mark!'' says Evans. Basically, he is a Welsh version of Arkwright from 'Open All Hours' though lacks the likability that Barker brought to the earlier role.
Evans also has a not-so-handyman and chauffeur in the shape of Willie ( Dickie Arnold ), a toothless idiot who never speaks and is incapable of performing even the simplest of tasks correctly ( ''Can he do tasks? ''Oh, he'll get the hang of it!''. In all of the six episodes, he still never got the hang of it! ).
Roy Clarke first came up with the idea of using a photographer as the focal point in a sitcom in an episode of the 'Comedy Playhouse' series entitled 'Pygmalion Smith' which was broadcast on 25/7/74 and starred Leonard Rossiter. A decade later, Clarke felt that the premise was ripe for further development. Sadly, the reception that 'The Magnificent Evans' met with did not live up to either Barker or Clarke's expectations. Barker was as excellent as ever and there was some good performances from the support cast, particularly Myfanwy Talog's nosey, curtain twitching Bron and there were some amusing one-liners too but overall the show lacked the necessary charm to go any further. In his autobiography, Barker claimed that the show's failure was due to the fact that too much effort was put into the scenery and not enough put into the writing.
A year after 'The Magnifcent Evans' ended, Barker did one more series of 'Open All Hours' and in 1988 wrote and starred in his final sitcom - 'Clarence' - in which he played a myopic removals man. 'The Magnificent Evans' was released on DVD in 2005 as part of 'The Ronnie Barker Collection' and while not in any way a classic is worth watching for Barker's talent alone.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?