Bob And Margaret (1998-2001)
In there late-90s there were a big wave of animated comedy shows that launched on TV. Among these shows were the likes of South Park and Futurama, and these went on to be very successful, so British TV decided to have a go at making some too. One was Stressed Eric, which ran for a couple of series but I don’t remember watching that, another one that I did watch was Bob And Margaret.
In 1994 a cartoon called Bob’s Birthday won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and the decision was made to turn this into a series. Bob and Margaret Fish are a married couple around their early-40s who live in London and don’t have any children, but they do have two stupid dogs (now there’s a good idea for a cartoon). Bob works as a dentist, while Margaret is a chiropodist, and we see them in their work and going about their daily lives interacting with family, friends and patients.
Because Bob And Margaret was a British production, most of the early episodes were shown on Channel 4, although in a rather late timeslot, and various British comedy actors provided the voices, including Andy Hamilton who wrote TV sitcom Drop The Dead Donkey and starred in radio series Old Harry’s Game who voiced Bob, and Steve Coogan and Doon Mackichan were also among the cast. The show also had a rather distinctive animation style, with all of the cast featuring rather worryingly large noses. Of the 52 episodes, one that stuck in my mind was called “Fly On The Wall”, where Bob was contacted by an old school friend to take part in a documentary called Cutting Lives showing his work as a dentist. Bob then gathers all his friends round to watch the show on TV. However, Bob gets stitched up when clips of him are shown out of context, such as when he shouts at a hard of hearing elderly patient “what is wrong with you?”, making it seem like he was verbally abusing them, and Bob ends up rather embarrassed.
For the third series, there were some changes. A Canadian production company took over the making of the show so Bob and Margaret left the UK to start a new life in Toronto, and things carried on rather as they had been until the fourth and final series. Because of this, the show gained a small following of fans in the USA and Canada despite the humour being typically British.
I remember watching Bob And Margaret when it seemed to be repeated endlessly on the now long-gone Freeview digital channel FTN about a decade ago. It was at this point that I really got into the show having not seen it first time round, there were a lot of interesting characters and memorable moments, but it now hasn’t been on the screen for a while and it hasn’t been released in full on DVD in this country, but it was a good attempt at an animated sitcom that deserves more acclaim.