A Bit Of A Do (ITV, 1989)
This is a sitcom (more of a comedy-drama really) from that is rather interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it was created and written by David Nobbs, who was also behind other comedies including The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, and The Maltby Collection, an enjoyable BBC Radio 4 show. Also, it features Nobbs’s style of typically eccentric British characters and their sometimes rather bizarre quirks and turns of phrases.
And it also starred David Jason, who at this time was becoming an increasingly popular name on TV, and of course it’s always a pleasure seeing him do his thing (and the first series was shown around the same time as the sixth series of Only Fools And Horses, so for a short while viewers could get a double dose of top-class Jason action). A Bit Of A Do starred Jason as Ted Simcock, the self-styled “blunt, no-nonsense Yorkshireman”, who owned Jupiter Foundry (that eventually goes out of business).
Every episode began with one of the cast saying that they were going to attend “a bit of a do”. These were various social gatherings in a small town in Yorkshire, and whether it was a wedding, a christening, a funeral, or even The Inauguration Of The Outer Inner Relief Ring Road, they all headed to the function room for the opportunity of a gossip, a glass of champagne, and an endless supply of vol au vants.
Ted enjoyed any excuse to put his bow-tie on and mingle, whether the others wanted him there or not. And they definitely were an interesting group of characters, including Ted’s wife Rita Simcock, Liz Rodenhurst and Neville Badger, who was a rather boring solicitor. In the first episode the two rather different families become intertwined when a Simcock marries a Rodenhurst.
It becomes even more complicated when Ted leaves Rita after falling for Liz, before getting involved with more women. Also featuring are Betty and Rodney Sillitoe, who owns a chicken farm and later opens a restaurant, and they only seem to turn up to these parties so they can get drunk (it was a little odd seeing Jason interact with a character called Rodney in a different show). These occasions often show off the difference in the families, and they like to wind each other up. It was amusingly awkward.
A Bit Of A Do was based on a series of books by Nobbs, and there were 13 hour-long episodes in two series on Friday nights. It was a very well-received show, and along with two TV Times covers, it was won several awards, including one for Jason at the first British Comedy Awards in 1990. There have also been several repeat runs, including on Channel 4 in 1992, followed later by Granada Plus and ITV3.
The show has been released on DVD by Network. It does contain a decent amount of extras, including archive interviews with the cast, the 1982 pilot episode of Nobbs’s Dogfood Dan And The Camarthen Cowboy (which got a series on BBC2 in 1988), and a PDF of the Yorkshire Television press release. It is definitely among the many successes of Jason’s career.