TV: FATHER, DEAR FATHER

By Peter Tatchell (from LAUGH MAGAZINE #23, 2002)

fatherdearIn 1968, British commercial television was in a state of upheavel. Several franchises had been cancelled and the London area was to be served by two new providers. Thames Television (a merging of previous licensee Associated-Rediffusion with A.B.C.) would cover weekdays and the David Frost inspired London Weekend would take over at 7pm Fridays.

It was an exciting time for viewers with a plethora of new programming filling the pages of the TV Times. From London Weekend came Please Sir!, Doctor In The House and On The Buses  and Thames produced The Benny Hill Show, Bless This House, Father Dear Father and Man About The House.
Laughterlog has profiles on all these series in the TV section.

First cab off the rank from Thames was Father, Dear Father about a divorcee with two teenage daughters who writes crime novels. Perhaps television’s best adaptation of theatrical farce, each episode managed to take a partially overheard conversation or misunderstanding and escalate it into a 25-minute rollercoaster of chaotic situations, before the truth is revealed as the credits are about to roll.

Writers Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke had graduated from scripting such radio shows as Men From The Ministry, Comedy Parade and the final series of Round The Horne and contributing to the TV series Foreign Affairs, Life With Cooper, Hughie and Horne A’Plenty.

The starring role of Patrick Glover was taken by Patrick Cargill, a familiar face on the West End stage and to viewers of such classic Hancock programmes as The Blood Donor, The Bowmans and The Lift.  Daughters Anna and Karen (played by Natasha Pyne and Ann Holloway) are eager participants of the swinging sixties with all its music, fashion and ideals of sexual liberation.

Other women in his life are literary agent and romantic interest, Georgie (originally Sally Bazely, but later played by Dawn Wells) and the girls’ Nanny (Noel Dyson) who has managed the household since the Glover divorce seven years earlier. Also resident on the premises is the pampered St. Bernard H.G. Wells, played by several canines during the show’s run … the first of whom was so large that any form of movement from the couch was apparently a problem.

Helping the plot entangle is Patrick’s elderly mother (played by Joyce Carey, usually at the other end of the telephone in Herne Bay), a lady with a distinctly Gracie Allen style of understanding. And prone to dropping by in search of a roof over his head or to cadge money is Patrick’s ne’er-do-well brother Philip (portrayed by film and theatre great Donald Sinden).

Other occasional visitors are the departed Mrs. Glover (Ursula Howells), now ensconsed in Italy with her new husband, the womanizing Bill Mossman (a role taken by Patrick Holt in the first couple of seasons, before he was replaced by Tony Britton).

Also seen in several episodes is Karen’s accident-prone boyfriend Howard, played by Richard O’Sullivan (who would later star in the subsequent Mortimer/Cooke success Man About The House and its spin off, Robin’s Nest, which also featured Tony Britton).

Father Dear Father’s performers and Mortimer and Cooke’s clever scripts were immediate favourites with British (and soon overseas) viewers who warmed to the befuddled parent’s gender and generational problems with his offspring.

After Father Dear Father had completed two seasons in glorious monochrome, British commercial television and BBC1 joined BBC2 in taping in colour from the second half of 1969. And for four years in a row a short segment featuring the Glovers was featured in the annual ITV All-Star Comedy Carnival screened on Christmas Day.

The Glover clan were also guest contestants on the popular Golden Shot game show (March 1 1970) and appeared on the Edward Woodward variety hour (August 4 1971). Cargill starred in his own special, Patrick Dear Patrick (January 26 1972) which also featured a Father Dear Father segment.

After five seasons and over thirty programmes, the writers thought the show needed a lift and decided that Anna should get married. In the brief span of three episodes she meets, becomes engaged to, and marries Timothy Tanner (Jeremy Child) leading to a final series where the couple move into a flat, and new storylines can involve Patrick and his dunderhead son-in-law.

By 1973, cinema adaptations of television favourites like Steptoe And Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Dad’s Army, On The Buses and Up Pompeii! were enjoying enormous box office success. With the TV series now out of production, Mortimer and Cooke decided to hop on the band waggon and reworked storylines from three early episodes into a film version of the show, which was released to cinemas in May 1974.

All the original cast took part (including Sinden, Howells and Carey) though Jack Watling took over as Bill and Jill Melford was cast as Georgie. Richard O’Sullivan reprised his occasional role as Karen’s boyfriend, Howard  (renamed “Richard” in the movie) and Beryl Reid appeared in an amusing cameo.

But the Father, Dear Father saga wasn’t quite over. In 1978, Cargill and Dyson were signed to revive their characters in a continuation of the storyline called Father, Dear Father In Australia. The Seven Network, which had become known as the home of ITV comedies downunder (it had also screened the Doctor series, Please Sir!, On The Buses, The Dick Emery Show and several lesser known sitcoms) decided to finance a local version of the show.

Mortimer and Cooke scripted the opening episode which saw Patrick temporarily moving to Sydney to write his new novel. Accompanied by Nanny, he is to stay with a previously unmentioned brother Jeffrey who, like Patrick, happens to have two teenage daughters (Liz and Sue). Soon after arrival though, Jeffrey’s work sends him to London and Patrick must take charge of the girls (played by Sally Conabere and Sigrid Thornton). And so, for a further thirteen episodes, the generation gap misunderstandings continued as before.

Series 1: ITV November 5 to December 17 1968 (7 x 25 min., b/w)
1. The Proposal
Patrick feels the girls need a mother’s guidance and decides to marry again
2. Pussies Galore
When Anna and Karen mind a pregnant cat, their secrecy causes Patrick to think one of them is expecting
3. The Return Of The Mummy
Patrick’s ex-wife has had an argument with her new husband and decides to take up residence with the Glovers until things blow over
4. Publish And Be Damned
Karen writes a steamy novel with characters based on the Glover household and creates a furore in publishing circles.
5. It Won’t Be A Stylish Marriage
Anna decides to wed Cyril, but Patrick thinks it is Nanny who wants to marry.
6. I Should Have Danced All Night
When Patrick sneaks out every night to take dance lessons, the girls think he must be the person molesting women on the heath.
7. Lost Weekend
Patrick misunderstands Georgie’s invitation to Brighton for the weekend then has to get out of going to Anna’s play.

Series 2: ITV May 27 to July 1 1969 (6 x 25 min, b/w)
1. Unhappy Birthday
When his doctor secretly phones about a surprise birthday party for Patrick, the birthday boy thinks he is at death’s door.
2. We Can’t Afford A Carriage
The girls can’t get Patrick to buy them a car so they try to raise cash by modelling and bunnywork
3. Show Me The Way To Go Home
Anna moves to a decrepit bedsit, but Patrick thinks she is living with a man in the luxury apartment downstairs.
4. Thinner Than Water
Owing to a mixup with his blood donation card, Patrick thinks he can’t be Anna and Karen’s real father.
5. Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
Patrick’s brother Philip arrives unexpectedly with a baby that he presumes to be his.
6. Divorce – English Style
Owing to a legal technicality, it appears Patrick and Barbara’s divorce may be null and void

* All-Star Comedy Carnival: ITV December 25 1969
a short Father Dear Father segment was featured

Series 3: ITV May 12 to June 16 1970 (6 x 25 min, colour)
1. This Is Your Wife
To ensure a film deal goes ahead, Patrick must appear married.
2. One Dog And His Man
The girls go on a hunger strike when Patrick gives H.G. away because he chewed up a manuscript.
3. It’s Never Too Late
Karen is to be christened but the vicar believes he is to perform a marriage ceremony between Patrick and Barbara
4. Nobody’s Indespensible
The Glovers try to convince Nanny they can manage without her so she will accept a marriage proposal
5. A Suitable Suitor
Patrick decides he has found the ideal husband for one of his daughters, but the young man’s mother thinks he has romantic designs on her.
6. A Man About The House
While Patrick is in Europe, the girls let a young artist with marital troubles move into his room.

* All-Star Comedy Carnival: ITV December 25 1970
a short Father Dear Father segment was featured

Series 4:  ITV June 15 to July 27 1971 (7 x 25 min)
1. The Last Of The Red-Hot Mommas
Because of her age, Patrick thinks his mother should move in with them.
2. An Affair To Forget
Patrick becomes involved when his accountant is thought to be having an affair with his secretary.
3. Housey-Housey
Patrick is incensed when he hears of a council plan to build a flyover across their garden
4. The Reluctant Runaway
Responding to a dare by Anna, Karen runs away from home.
5. Come Back Little Sheba
A pet hamster being minded by the Glovers goes missing.
6. A Domestic Comedy
While Patrick is looking for a temporary housekeeper to fill in for Nanny, Anna has a computer dating service sending round prospective partners for him.
7. The Naked Truth
The girls want to make sure Patrick won’t see Anna’s nude balcony scene in an amateur production of Romeo And Juliet.

Series 5: ITV September 13 to October 18 1971 (6 x 25 min)
1. Proposed And Seconded
Patrick believes he may have accidentally proposed to Georgie during a party.
2. The Life Of The Party
When Patrick plans to be away for the weekend, the girls see it as the perfect time to have a party.
3. Nothing But The Tooth
Karen’s clumsy boyfriend doesn’t help Patrick’s toothache.
4. An Explosive Situation
After accidentally buying some army surplus at an auction, Patrick finds himself holding a grenade
5. A Book For The Bishop
Patrick’s old schoolmate is now a Bishop who leads a crusade against pornography.
6. A Case For Inspector Glover
Patrick tries to discover who has been sending him poison pen letters.

* Mike And Bernie Winters All-Star Comedy Carnival: ITV December 25 1971
a short Father Dear Father segment was featured

Series 6: ITV June 13 to July 25 1972 (7 x 25 min)
1. The Cardboard Casanova
Patrick thinks he is about to be cited in a divorce but his remedy to the situation makes matters worse.
2. Brother, Dear Brother
Patrick has an accident whilst visiting Philip in hospital and ends up a patient himself
3. The Opposite Sex
Patrick’s expectations of a peaceful week free of the girls evaporates when circumstances result in the house being overun with womenfolk.
4. Unaccustomed As I Am
An incapacity interferes with Patrick’s speech at his old school
5. Fued Glorious Feud
Anna’s new boyfriend, Timothy, makes an unfortunate first impression on Patrick, who thinks he’s a layabout
6. The Engagement
Timothy causes confusion when he asks Patrick for permission to wed Anna
7. Father Of The Bride
Timothy’s stag party leaves him in no fit condition for his impending nuptuals.

* All-Star Comedy Carnival: ITV December 25 1972
a short Father Dear Father segment was featured

Series 7: ITV January 2 to February 6 1973 (6 x 25 min)
1. Flat Spin
Patrick finances Anna and Timothy’s flat-hunting in the guise of a deceased relative, who arrives to dispute his death.
2. Home And Away
Patrick finds Bill philandering with a blonde in Barbara’s country cottage.
3. It’s In The Book
Patrick must try to fix the situation when his career advice to Timothy gets him sacked.
4. The Right Hand Man
Patrick accidentally gets handcuffed to Timothy just as a film producer is about to arrive for an important meeting.
5. Pop Around The Clock
Patrick thinks Karen and Howard’s impending trip to a pop festival is in fact a plan to get married.
6. In All Directions
It’s time for the annual Glover family discussion on where to go for the holidays.

FATHER DEAR FATHER IN AUSTRALIA

Series 1: Seven Network June 25 to August 6 1978 (7 x 25 min)
1. Once More With Feeling
Patrick takes up residence at his brother’s house in Australia while writing a book
2. A Home From Home
Patrick feels homesick for London’s bleak weather
3. The Floating Housekeeper
A strange woman takes over the running of the household
4. Novel Exercise
When Patrick and Nanny act out a scene from his book, the neighbours call police
5. It Never Rains
Patrick is visited by a woman who runs his fan club
6. Finding Your Feet
Patrick is worried Nanny’s new miniature Japanese garden will attract creepy-crawlies into the house
7. The Lost Sheep
Patrick is curious about Nanny’s absent minded behavior

Series 2: Seven Network May 24 to June 28 1980 (6 x 25 min)
1. Straight From The Horse’s Mouth
Liz tries to convince Patrick she should have a horse
2. Father, Dear Father’s Day
The girls plan a Father’s Day party to combat Patrick’s homesickness
3. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Fifty year old letters belonging to previous residents of the house cause confusion
4. The Wisdom Of Patrick
Patrick isn’t keen on Liz and her boyfriend spending a holiday in the mountains
5. I Talk To The Trees
The beneficial effects of talking to plants leads to a misunderstanding with the lady next door
6. Thrupping Thursday
As an excuse from having to attend a function, Patrick invents a strange old English custom

FILM

FATHER, DEAR FATHER
Rank/Sedgemoor/MM Films 1973 (99 minutes)
(reworks plots from b/w episodes 1/1, 1/3 and 2/3)
features the tv cast (with Jack Watling as Bill and Jill Melford as Georgie), plus Beryl Reid and Richard O’Sullivan.

 

RECORDINGS

PATRICK CARGILL SINGS “FATHER, DEAR FATHER”
RCA Victor LP SF 8060 (1969)
Father Dear
Old Man Autumn
Nothing Is The Same Anymore
Out On A Sunday
On Art
Alone On The Telephone
Walking With Old H.G.
Always Young
Songs Of Yesterday
Weight Watcher’s Guide
Holiday
Women
Television

Father Dear Father (Patrick Cargill vocal) /
Father Dear Father Theme (instrumental)
Hit 45rpm single HIT 16 (Nov 1971)

DVDs

Father, Dear Father – series 1
Network DVD, Umbrella DVD

Father, Dear Father – series 2
Network DVD, Umbrella DVD

Father, Dear Father – series 3
Network DVD

Father, Dear Father – series 4
Network DVD

Father, Dear Father – series 5
Network DVD

Father, Dear Father in Australia 
7/EMI 2-DVD

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