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This series was very much a one-man vehicle for Peter Bowles, who had
rather a monopoly on upper-class male roles on British television
screens in the 1970's and 1980's.
He stars here as Major Sinclair Yeates, a retired British army officer who takes up a post as Resident Magistrate (R.M.) in the west of Ireland around 1900. From the moment he arrives, all his comfortable assumptions are turned on their heads by the local version of logic. Strictly speaking, this is farce rather than comedy; the humour lies in Yeates's attempts to come to grips with absurd situations.
The series was very true to the original book by Somerville and Ross, and skips over any mention of Home Rule politics or religious strife. There is very little for any opponent of "imperialism" to object to. Opponents of blood sports may find distasteful the fervour with which all the characters chase incompetently after every fox in sight; but the series was set at a time when this was very much a popular sport and method of pest control. In all three series, the only animals killed on screen are one snipe, one duck and one salmon - hardly distressing viewing, for even the most squeamish.
Regular characters were Anna Manahan's sententious cook, Mrs. "Kay-de-gawn", and landlord "Flurry" Knox, portrayed as an angelic leprechaun by Bryan Murray). Some acting highlights worth watching are Beryl Reid's two appearances as Flurry Knox's eccentric grandmother, and Niall Toibin's role throughout the series as Flurry's incorrigible groom, Slipper.
Overall, the series benefited greatly from some lovely unspoiled countryside and small towns, some excellent period costume and a lot of very lively and authentic extras, which make for an excellent feel for the period.
There are eighteen episodes in all, but the continuity of the series is generally unimportant. Any one episode will give an hour's enjoyable viewing.
A superb and hilariously scripted rendition of the Somerville & Ross classics, set in turn of the century Southern Ireland. The locations are magnificent and the episodes remain remarkably faithful to the original stories. Peter Bowles is peerless at playing the hapless magistrate, Major Sinclair Yeates. The unique "Slipper" is brought to his larger than life self by the magnificent Niall Tobin and Bryan Murray excels as the raffish Flurry Knox. This series of approximately 5 hours of videos is an unparalleled, if somewhat over-idealised vignette of rural Ireland one hundred years ago.
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