Lucky Feller (ITV, 1976)
In the 1970s David Jason appeared in a lot comedy shows, you might be familiar with Open All Hours and Porridge, but he also starred in a few other shows before he hit the big time with Only Fools And Horses. He does seem to be vaguely embarrassed by them now, so when last year I heard that Network were going to release his sitcom Lucky Feller, I was really pleased. But why was I so interested in seeing a comedy that was shown only once on ITV seven years before I was born?
It wasn’t just because of course I thought it would be good seeing another show with David Jason, but because of his co-star as well. Cheryl Hall had appeared in a lot of shows in the 1970s, including Pertwee-era Doctor Who and she was even married to actor Robert Lindsay for a while and appeared in a couple of series of his show Citizen Smith. And, many years before, she was also in the same class at school as my mum. So the idea of a sitcom where my mum’s old mate ended up marrying a character played by the great David Jason was something that I was really interested in seeing.
In the show, David Jason plays Shorty, someone who is unlucky in life and unlucky in love. He lives with his mother and brother the womaniser Randolph (who is played by Peter Armitage who is better known for playing Bill in Coronation Street). One day Shorty meets a young lady called Kathleen (played by Cheryl Hall) and instantly falls in love.
As the series progresses, the relationship between Shorty and Kathleen blossoms. After a few episodes they start to go on dates and we meet her parents (another Coronation Street connection here, her mum is played by Maggie Jones who also played Deirdre’s mum Blanche for many years).
There are lots of episodes where Shorty suffers a mishap. This is where David Jason’s talent for falling over amusingly comes in which would of course be put to even better use later in his career. There are some funny stunts throughout the run of the series and his character does seem similar to Frank Spencer at times, indeed there is a farcical episode set in a launderette that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. But despite all this Shorty does considers himself a “lucky feller”.
There are also lots of star guests including Prunella Scales and Harry Hill’s mate Burt Kwouk. The final episode where Shorty hopes to get married is rather exciting, will Kathleen make it to the church on time?
You do hear a lot now about how rotten a lot of comedy in the 1970s supposedly was, but I did think that Lucky Feller was rather good, I am pleased that I have finally seen it, and I must admit that I thought it was better than David Jason’s current show Still Open All Hours.