Second Thoughts (ITV, 1991-1994)
Let’s have another entry in the “were there any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” series, and this one has a better claim to being successful than most do. Second Thoughts was a sitcom written by Jan Etherington and Gavin Petrie which ran on BBC Radio 4 from 1988-1992. I didn’t hear it first time round, but there have been plenty of repeats in more recent years on BBC7/Radio 4 Extra, and indeed I listened to a few episodes recently.
In 1991 it transferred to ITV (curiously two other Radio 4 sitcoms launched on ITV in the 90s, After Henry and Up The Garden Path) where most of the radio scripts were recycled. Second Thoughts (yet another LWT Production for ITV) was about two mismatched divorcees that had become a couple and hoped that things will turn out better for them the second time around. They were Faith (Lynda Bellingham, who at this time was best known for appearing an in advertising campaign for Oxo), and Bill (James Bolam, a veteran of many sitcoms).
Faith has two children from her marriage who still live with her, Joe (Mark Denham) and Hannah (Julia Sawalha, who also had Absolutely Fabulous and Press Gang on the go at the same time, how did she fit it all in?) who works in a restaurant for a while. Don’t forget the dog too. Bill has no children and has no idea of how to deal with these two that have suddenly come into his life, there’s not much point in them telling him their typically teenage problems.
The other main characters were Bill’s scheming ex-wife Liza (Belinda Lang, much more glamorous than her character in 2Point4 Children that was running on BBC1 at the same time) and Richard (Geoffrey Whitehead, what an underrated talent) who was the boss of the style magazine that Bill and Liza work at. Julia’s sister Nadia Sawalha also appeared in some episodes.
As the years go by, Faith and Bill try to marry but it never happens, and Faith doesn’t meet Liza until the final episode when she is about to give birth, but the identity of the father remains unclear. One thing that is clear though, Bill finally walked out on Faith shortly after as he didn’t appear in the sequel Faith In The Future that launched on ITV in 1995 (I also reviewed that recently).
Second Thoughts was definitely more successful than most ITV sitcoms from this era, it did well in the ratings, had a TV Times cover, and ran for five series, one of which was 15 episodes long. Lynda Bellingham was also surprised with the This Is Your Life big red book whilst making an episode. All of the 49 episodes have been released on DVD by Network (but they contain no extras), and there have also been several repeat runs on Granada Plus and ITV3.