Jack Rosenthal's 'The Lovers' was about two young people at the start of their adult lives. His next sitcom went to the other extreme. He got the idea for 'Sadie, It's Cold Outside' after observing a middle-aged, married couple peering through the window of a café. Glancing at the mainly young customers and then at the menu prices, they scurried off. He realised there was a sitcom in those characters.
Bernard Hepton and Rosemary Leach took the lead roles. He had done comedy before, most notably as 'Mr.Fletcher' in Eric Chappell's 'The Squirrels', while Leach had been Ronnie Corbett's wife 'Laura' in 'No - That's Me Over Here'. Hepton played 'Norman Potter', a former factory worker whose get up and go long ago got up and went, and is content is do little all day except watch television. So detached is he from the real world he even has to be reminded who his daughter Marilyn is ( "she's got fat legs and a deep freeze the size of our kitchen - and nothing in it!" ). His wife Sadie ( Leach ) approaches life with all the enthusiasm of one who has spent most of hers washing, cooking and cleaning.
The comedy chiefly arose from their attempts to cope with what they saw as an increasingly hostile world. The opening titles featured Norman and Sadie being being knocked down by pedestrians as they tried to cross a busy road outside a supermarket. In the first episode, Sadie is so desperate to hold a proper conversation with Norman she cuts the plug off the television set. Another had Donald Sumpter as a plumber who has turned up two years late to repair a washing machine. When Sadie offers him coffee, he accepts, only to then complain when it turns out to be instant. Yet another had Sadie convinced she was being spied on by neighbour 'Mrs.Bellamy' ( it was true as it turned out ), and she was going round the kitchen bent double to avoid being seen.
It was funny though at times made uncomfortable viewing, very different from I.T.V.'s regular sitcom fare. In Norman and Sadie we saw future versions of ourselves, people whose ambitions have withered away to nothing. Hepton and Leach were magnificent as you would expect. The first edition featured a wonderful soliloquy from Sadie. As she and Norman lay in bed, she rhetorically asks: "Life...is this it?". You wanted to weep for her. Lesley Joseph ( from 'Birds Of A Feather' ) appeared in one edition.
Only one season was made, rightly so. This type of comedy works best in small doses. All six episodes ( and the unscreened pilot ) came out on D.V.D. in 2012. I'll leave the last word to Norman. At the very end of the series, when Sadie points out they are in danger of living happily ever after, he says: "Don't be silly, Sadie. This is England. Something will turn up!". Her eyes gave a little roll of despair.
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