Is It Legal? (ITV, 1995-1996, Channel 4, 1998)
Is It Legal? is a sitcom that was made by the same team as Men Behaving Badly, and while it didn’t go on to be as successful as that show, it is still a favourite of mine.
The show is set in the small solicitors Lotus, Spackman and Phelps in Hounslow. There were a terrific bunch of characters. Bob is currently going through a divorce and he has become a miserable middle-aged man. The only thing keeping him going his obsession with Sarah, the young lady who works in Mr Bappy, the shop below the office. He is always asking for baps just so she can enter the office and he is always thrilled when she arrives, knocking everything off his desk in the excitement. There are awkward exchanges between them and because he doesn’t actually eat baps he now has a draw full of them. This story develops over the episodes and I found it engrossing but it is all rather sad really, Bob is unable to tell Sarah his feelings for her and Sarah has no interest in Bob and soon gets her own boyfriend, making Bob very upset. Eventually, realising that he has no chance with her, he starts to fall in love with his colleague Stella.
Stella is a rather bossy and ambitious woman who doesn’t get on with any of the staff. She always tries to be authoritative and professional but it is very difficult for her, although she does eventually fall for Bob.
Colin arrives full of confidence, he is really looking forward to being able to help people, but because of his colleagues his enthusiasm drains away very quickly. He is always getting in arguments with everyone because of his mistakes and starts to date Sarah after she left Mr Bappy which infuriates Bob.
Dick is only a few years from retirement and he has became bored with his job. He just sits in his office reading golf magazines and having a glass of sherry, and his back’s gone too. He wasn’t in the third series.
Alison is supposed to be the secretary but is completely useless at her job, preferring to do anything than work and she would rather be out flirting with young men than spending time with her dull colleagues.
Darren is the youngest member of the team. He is a very dozy office boy who is always being made to run errands by the rest of the staff and is considered to be fairly useless, much to his frustration.
Also in the second series was Jonathan Coleman, who was the co-presenter of the Virgin Radio Breakfast Show at time, guest starring as a radio presenter. Alexander Armstrong is in a third series episode.
Is It Legal? is a show that I still often like to watch. I vaguely remember watching the show first time round in the 90s, but when in 2007 ITV3 started a late-night repeat run that’s when I really got into the show and when it was released on DVD a few years later by Network I was very pleased.
The first series of Is It Legal? won ITV Sitcom Of The Year at the British Comedy Awards, but it was cancelled after the second series. The show then moved channels when the production company, just like they did with Men Behaving Badly, found a slot elsewhere. The show returned for a third series on Channel 4 but it wasn’t a big success and that was the end. The opening theme was also changed to a much more annoying piece of music. But overall though I do think that it is a very good sitcom with some great performances and funny moments.