Kinvig (ITV, 1981)
Here’s how I became interested in this sitcom. Recently I visited the Network website, a company known from releasing lesser-remembered TV shows from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and while I was having a look at what has been released, and there was a show that stood out to me because it was a science-fiction comedy, so even though I don’t remember it from first time round I thought that it was worthy of a review here.
Kinvig is a sitcom that was created and written by Nigel Kneale, who was behind some of the most acclaimed science-fiction TV series of their era, including Quatermass, so there was a lot of interest as he turned his attention to doing an unusual sitcom. It seems that to some extent this series might have been an attempt by ITV at making their equivalent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, after the successful radio series had transferred to BBC2 earlier in 1981.
After we start with the LWT symbol flying through space, we meet the main character Des Kinvig (Tony Haygarth), who works in a rundown repair shop and he has become bored with old ladies always going on about their broken hairdryers, and he lives with his wife Netta. Des and his mate Jim are somewhat interested in UFOs and alien sightings, and they often wonder if the stories that they read about abductions in magazines are true, although such things are unlikely to ever happen in the quiet town of Bingleton.
One day a glamorous young woman walks into the shop called Miss Griffin, and not long after Des begins to fantasise about visiting a strange spaceship which contains various aliens along with Miss Griffin (wearing various costumes) who claims to be from the planet Mercury. Des tells Jim about these stories, but he can’t really believe that him of all people would be the one who would be chosen to visit various planets and try to and save the universe.
As the episodes progress we see that Des constantly goes back and forth (thanks to some fancy visual effects) and tries his best to help out Miss Griffin, and he is also insistent that there are funny goings-on at the council. It was never made clear in Kinvig if all of this was really happening or if Des had started to have some rather strange dreams about one of his customers, and although the conclusion to the series was deliberately left open-ended, it turned out to not be much of a hit with viewers, and there was only one series.
Along with all seven episodes, the DVD extras include a look behind the scenes, and also a 16-page booklet about the history of the show. One interesting piece of trivia that it contains is that Kinvig was launched in the same month as BBC1’s Only Fools And Horses which was given a second chance, and it goes on to speculate if things had turned out differently would Des and Jim now be a much-loved long-running comedy double-act and Del Boy and Rodney all but forgotten? Well probably not, but we can always dream…