Porkpie (Channel 4, 1995-1996)
Desmond’s, which went on to be one of Channel 4’s most successful home-made sitcoms, came to a sombre end in 1994 following the death of Norman Beaton who played the lead role. But viewers still wanted more, so one of the popular regular characters was promoted to the main one as we returned to Peckham for this spin-off series that was created and written by the same team as its predecessor.
Ram John Holder returned one year on in 1995 with his hat to play Porkpie again (his actual name was Augustus, but everybody knew him by his nickname). In the first episode, we discover that Porkpie is now living a rather mundane existence as a lollipop man, living on his own, feeling rather down on his luck, and still missing his good friend Desmond.
One remarkable thing about the mid-90s looking back is just how many references there were to the newly-launched National Lottery. Not just in adverts that featured the famous catchphrase, but also in TV shows with endless jokes, it really was a cultural success, suddenly people could win huge amounts of money like never before, only the pools had ever come close.
How all this ties in to this show is because one day Porkpie needs a change in fortune and decides to buy a lottery ticket, even though he’s certain that it’s an impossible dream. But he has a go, and he even endures watching The National Lottery Live to discover his fate. And would you believe it, as Porkpie only goes and wins £10 million, blimey, that’s even more than Del Boy and Rodney made!
Naturally, Porkpie’s life is transformed, but will it be for the better? The rest of the series concentrates on Porkpie in his unexpected new situation. Now the biggest decision he has to make in his life is deciding whether to buy a car or go on a cruise. One thing that Porkpie decides to do is open a youth centre which is named after his old friend. A few old characters also appear, including Desmond’s son Michael.
Among the new characters was Benji, who befriends Porkpie, and any show that decides to add Derek Griffiths to the cast must have something going for it. There were 12 episodes of Porkpie in two series, although it did come off as second best when compared to Desmond’s which was rather disappointing, it seemed that the idea had been exhausted a little by this point. Also, there has been no repeat run or DVD release, but it retained the feelgood factor that attracted so many to Desmond’s.