To Hard-drinking Govan resident Rab C. Nesbitt, there is no magic to Christmas when you have no money and he cannot share his long-suffering wife Mary or teenage sons Burney and Gash's ... See full summary »





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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Roper ...
Elaine C. Smith ...
Andrew Fairlie ...
Eric Cullen ...
Charlie Sim ...
Mary Riggans ...
Charity Woman
Gerard Kelly ...
Man in Window
Iain Cuthbertson ...
Drunk Man
Rikki Fulton ...
Man in Pub
Man Having Lunch
David McNiven ...
Man with Harmonica


To Hard-drinking Govan resident Rab C. Nesbitt, there is no magic to Christmas when you have no money and he cannot share his long-suffering wife Mary or teenage sons Burney and Gash's enthusiasm for the festive season, preferring instead to comment cynically to camera on its commercial trappings. The ultimate betrayal is seeing neighbour and best friend Jamesie Cotter working as a department store Santa, which leads to a fight and a spell in gaol for Rab. True he gets home in time for Christmas but finds the atmosphere so cheerless he prefers to go back inside for the holiday. Written by don @ minifie-1

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21 December 1988 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

The Birth Of A True Comedy Classic
30 December 2015 | by (Wallyford, East Lothian, Scotland) – See all my reviews

Gregor Fisher went on record to say that during filming of the very first 'Naked Video' sketch of 'Rab C. Nesbitt' he felt that not only did it show up Glasgow in a bad light but also that it wasn't funny and would not go anywhere. It just went to show how wrong he was as two years later the character, after several appearances on 'Naked Video', was awarded his own show.

In 1988, talk was rife of a 'Naked Video' Christmas special in which Rab would have been used as a linking device, an idea which was put to its creator Ian Pattison by Phil Differ, who at this time was writing sketches for 'Naked Video'. Pattison decided instead to devise a sitcom pilot focusing on Rab's opinions on the over-commercialism of the festive period ( this was despite the failure of Pattison's previous sitcom pilot 'Doss' to reach the screen ), with Elaine C. Smith once again vacating the role of Rab's long suffering wife Mary and Tony Roper stepping in yet again as Rab's untrustworthy friend Jamesie Cotter as well as introducing Andrew Fairlie and the late Eric Cullen as Rab and Mary's troublesome sons Gash and Burney. The pilot, entitled 'Rab C. Nesbitt's Seasonal Greet' went out on BBC2 Scotland 21st Decemeber 1988 and was an immediate hit, first in Scotland and then nationally when it was repeated by BBC2 on 30 December 1989, where it was watched by nearly three million viewers and so the groundwork was laid for Scotland's most successful comedy creation. A full series was broadcast in September 1990. Nine more series followed, totalling up 66 episodes. To this day it remains Scotland's longest running sitcom and has yet to be outdone.

'Seasonal Greet' focuses mainly on Rab's reluctance to join in the Christmas celebrations with his wife and family, a situation instigated by his failure to secure a crisis loan from the local D.W.P office. Along with his friends Andra, Dodie and Jamesie ( the latter agreeing only under protest ), Rab sets out to abolish Christmas, however on later catching sight of Jamesie moonlighting as a department store Santa Claus, all hell breaks loose and, after assaulting Jamesie, ends up getting himself arrested.

I'll leave the ending for you to discover yourself but by now I think you will have a fair idea what to expect. Fisher, as one would expect, is on top-form, as are Elaine C. Smith and Tony Roper. Andrew Fairlie and Eric Cullen became popular in their own right, particularly Eric Cullen who as Burney often stole the show. 'Seasonal Greet' is ideal viewing for us bah humbugs who feel that Christmas is overrated and over-commercialised ( I couldn't get to sleep most nights this year with the lights from many of the neighbourhood's Christmas lights glaring through my window ). Looked at now, it is also a great reminder to people as to how good Christmas television was back then, rather than the depressing stuff that clogs up television screens these days like cholesterol in the arteries such as a death in 'Coronation Street' or 'Eastenders'.

Brian Pettifer makes his debut here as Andra, who would remain a regular character in the show. Dodie is played here by Alex Norton but was replaced when the series came along by Iain McColl. Norton was not bad as such but in my opinion McColl was funnier. Barbara Rafferty, who played Jamesie's promiscuous wife Ella, does not appear here unfortunately. It is not until half way through the first series does she make her debut. Appearing in supporting roles as Russell Hunter, Iain Cutbertson, Peter Capaldi, Andy Gray, Gerard Kelly, Viv Lumsden, Andy Cameron and Susan Gilmore. 'Scotch & Wry' star Rikki Fulton makes a 'blink and you'll miss it' appearance here as 'the man in the pub'. I feel an actor of his calibre deserved a much more prominent role.

A continuity problem is highlighted here. Mary claims to be pregnant here ( Elaine C. Smith was heavily pregnant in real life and gave birth to her first daughter not long after ) but by the time the series came along, the baby somehow disappeared. No mention was ever made of it in later episodes.

Funniest moment - a street performer, dressed as a robot, steps out in front of Rab and performs his act. After a few seconds of staring in bewilderment, Rab head-butts the poor man, causing him to fall to the ground, dazed.

Second funniest moment - Rab returning home, rather the worse for the drink to find that Mary has segregated the living room into two sections. So much happens in this scene it is impossible to do it justice here but it is a classic moment. One wonders if Pattison got the idea for this scene from the classic 'Steptoe & Son' episode 'Divided We Stand'.

A happy new year to all IMDb users when it comes. Incidentally, David McNiven, the man who provided the show's excellent theme tune and very good friend of mine, sadly died two weeks back following a lengthy illness. R.I.P David - a loving friend, father and husband who will be dearly missed.

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