Bowler: Season 1, Episode 1

The Ides of March (29 Jul. 1973)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy
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Episode credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael Brennan ...
Freddie Earlle ...
Peter Greene ...
Brian Hall ...
Jeffrey Segal ...
Mr Berger
Richard Shaw ...
Michael Stainton ...
Johnnie Wade ...
Nigel (as Johnny Wade)


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Release Date:

29 July 1973 (UK)  »

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The title is based upon a quote from William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar" (Act I, Scene II): "Beware the ides of March". See more »

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User Reviews

"Think class!"
26 October 2009 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

The third and final series of John Esmonde and Bob Larbey's 'The Fenn Street Gang' ended on 15/7/73. In the same slot ( Sunday at 7.25 P.M. ) one week later the writers gave us the first episode of 'Bowler', a spin-off starring George Baker as 'Stanley Bowler', a rich London wide-boy who aspires to being a toff or, as he puts it: "one of the creme!". 'The Ides of March' begins with him, fresh from prison, summoning his 'gang' to his penthouse for an urgent meeting. He tells them he wants them to 'think class!' from now on.

They are baffled by their boss' strange behaviour. In addition to doing 'Painting By Numbers' pictures whilst wearing an artist's smock and hat, he has had installed a doorbell whose chimes sound like the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony ( da-da-da-dumb! ).

Convinced that he has gone mad, they plan to break up his empire by selling a Soho nightclub he owns and pocketing the money. But Bowler is not quite as dim as they think and plots revenge...

I quite enjoyed this opener, even though the series is in fact a prequel to 'The Fenn Street Gang', meaning that neither Peter Craven ( who was one of Bowler's employees ) nor any of the other gang members made appearances in the 13-part series. As 'Bowler', Baker is very like 'Harold Steptoe'. I'm not implying he deliberately imitated Harry H.Corbett, but listen to the way he says the lines and you will see what I mean. Harold Steptoe and Stanley Bowler are both Cockneys who have had rough upbringings and who now wish to better themselves. Bowler, alas, remains resolutely uncultured. When he visits The National Gallery to see 'The Leonardo DaVinci Cartoon', he admits he cannot see the point of the joke ( rather like Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in a classic 'Not Only...But Also' sketch ). Anticipating 'Del Boy' by nearly a decade, Bowler occasionally lapses into French.

Peter Greene - the man Bowler meets in the gallery - was the 'Chaplain' in the 'Doctor' series. The late Gretchen Franklin, best remembered as 'Ethel' from 'Eastenders', is briefly seen as Bowler's domineering mum. The late Brian Hall is one of Bowler's gang. He also played a character called 'Terry' in the second season of 'Fawlty Towers'. Freddie Earlle, the stuttering 'Freddie', was 'Aldo Devito' in Jimmy Perry's forgotten ( but which I liked at the time ) I.T.V. sitcom 'Room Service'. Renny Lister plays Bowler's wife, Doreen.

Funniest moment - Bowler showing off his newly painted rendition of 'The Laughing Cavalier'. It has a green face, and looks like The Hulk. Unsurprisingly, since he mistook the number '12' on the lid for '2'.

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