In a feature length episode Penny recalls how she first met Vince when he was selling ice creams from a van, their subsequent courtship and the events that led up to his jilting her on her ... See full summary »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Shaun Curry ...
Ann Lynn ...
James Lister ...
Lennie
Paul James ...
Young Clifford
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...
Kate Saunders ...
Caroline
Daniel Peacock ...
Zac
Lisa Jacobs ...
Girl Hippie
Howard Samuels ...
Boy Hippie
Lisa Anselmi ...
Annie
David Rhule ...
Earl
Douglas W. Iles ...
American Tourist
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In a feature length episode Penny recalls how she first met Vince when he was selling ice creams from a van, their subsequent courtship and the events that led up to his jilting her on her wedding day and her decision to marry respectable but controlling Graham. Consequently she comes down on the side of believing that she and Vince have no future together. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Comedy

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25 December 1984 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Steve Whyment (Tony) was credited in the Radio Times listing for the episode but was not included in the definitive on-screen credits. See more »

Quotes

[Vince comes into Penny's office]
Penny Warrender: What are *you* doing here?
Vince Pinner: I'd like to insure my life.
Penny Warrender: We don't handle policies that small.
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User Reviews

 
A prequel to a great series, bit depressing in parts though
28 May 2007 | by (Coventry, England) – See all my reviews

Just Good Friends was one of, if not the best of all the 1980's UK sitcoms.

In Series One in 1983, we are introduced to 'cheeky' East End lad Vince Pinner, (Paul Nicholas) and 'Posh' Ex-public school girl Penny Warrender, (Jan Francis). who bump into each other five years after Vince jilted Penny at the alter on their wedding day.

This 'feature length special', (originally broadcast on BBC1 on Christmas Day 1984 after the culmination of Series 2), takes us back to when the Vince & Penny story first began, detailing their first meeting at a house party in 1976. We see their first embarrassing date together, the kindling of a lifelong romance, and the subsequent and frequent fights and break-ups that we have come to know so well.

The film does, however, seem rather disjointed in parts, and in some ways contradicts the series 1 meeting. for instance, in the special, Penny works for an Insurance/assurance company, in Series one, Vince asks her if she's still working at the quarry.

It even seems very low budget at times, like the appalling 1970's adult 'confessions' movies. and I feel it suffers greatly for this.

Also, there is a notable absence of recorded laughter on the soundtrack, canned or otherwise, which I feel may have helped some of the comedy scenario's, such as when an American tourist buys a 99 flake ice cream from Vince's van, and pays with a £1 note and gets 1p change in return. Hardly funny now, as that is what they actually cost today, but back in 1976, they would have cost no more than 20p. Had a laughter track been in place, then the audience would have known that the tourist was being shafted, but neither time nor UK inflation rates have been very kind to that particular gag.

The scenes when Vince and Penny are together are as pleasing as they always were, and we again get to see the chalk and cheese family backgrounds that makes for that wonderful 'class divide' comedy, we Brits have become so famous for, with Sylvia Kay, John Ringham, Ann Lynn and Shaun Curry all reprising their roles as Vince & Penny's parents.

However, after Vince's now expected 'Moody' and subsequent cancelled wedding, the entire mood of the rest of the movie turns a full 'From Dusk Till Dawn' style 180, and becomes something completely different, which suffice to say is depressing as hell.

We see Vince spend the intervening years passing his days, either in pubs or in fist fights. Penny, however, is the REAL tragic figure. Still hopelessly in love with Vince, she ends up marrying a socially respectable yet horrid, stuck up and unbelievably evil alcoholic, who takes sadistic pleasure in inflicting extreme mental torture on her by taunting Penny about her wedding that never was. In fact, after the failed wedding, I think the character of Penny doesn't have another scene in which she is not blubbing her guts out.

Thankfully, her marriage to this complete and utter arsehole doesn't last, (we are also informed of this in the first episode of series one anyway), and she starts to take control of her life again determined to put her feelings for Vince behind her. However, the final scene takes place on the same night that series one begins, with Penny's accidental, yet fateful reunion with Vince.

The prequel DID have me reaching for my tissues, but for all the wrong reasons. I've never known comedy to be so depressing and leave me feeling like utter crap.

The 1984 Christams Special, has now become the TV equivalent of Hen's Teeth and is a very much sought after recording due to it's rarity.

Series one & two were released on DVD a few years ago and Series three is finally due to follow this summer. However, certain websites are advertising this impending release as including the '1986' Christmas special, which was in fact, JUST the final episode of series three and not this 'particular special' that I review, so I strongly urge all who read this to take care when purchasing series three so they are not misled.

The 1984 Christmas Special, is now highly unlikely to get either a repeat on TV, or a DVD release because of the HUGE amount of commercial music on the soundtrack. However, if you haven't seen the special yet, don't worry!, just stick to the funny as snot DVD releases of the three series only, as this film will probably only succeed in bringing you not only down, but Down with a capital D.

Enjoy!


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