Desmond’s (Channel 4, 1989-1994)
This is a sitcom that launched in the late-80s, and it was set in Peckham in London. Now it wasn’t the first sitcom to be set there of course, as there was Only Fools And Horses as well, but this was something a little different. Although this one had a mostly black cast, it went on to become popular with people from various backgrounds because of its feelgood nature and enjoyable characters.
Desmond’s was set in a hairdressers, and the regular characters were family, along with various customers. Desmond Ambrose was in charge, and his regular customers (who had also become friends) included Matthew and Porkpie, who got his nickname because he wore that style of hat all the time. We don’t spend all the time at the hairdresser’s though, we also see Desmond in his family life, including his wife Shirley, along with his three children Michael, Sean, and Gloria.
There’s no doubt that a lot of people thought fondly of Desmond’s, knowing that they were always going to have a good time watching, and it eventually ran to six series and 71 episodes, more than any other home-made Channel 4 sitcom. It’s definitely among the best Channel 4 sitcoms, if only they would take such risks with comedy nowadays. And nobody even seemed to mind that the hairdressers only had about three regular customers.
Desmond’s also featured a rather odd coincidence. Just like Father Ted, one of Channel 4’s other big comedy successes, what was already planned to be the final episode (which in this case was an hour-long Christmas special), ended up being shown after the actor who played the main character had died, in this case Norman Beaton, who had appeared in various TV shows going back to the 70s.
Also, only the first two series of Desmond’s have been released on DVD, and there seems to be no plans to release any more which is rather disappointing, I’m not sure what happened, as I imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult to get fans of the show to buy them. In more recent years though, some episodes have been repeated on various channels including London Live (well they’ve got to fill the hours with something haven’t they), and it was good seeing them again. Viewers still wanted more though, so in the mid-90s Porkpie went on to given a spin-off sitcom, and I’ll review that soon too.