Rab C Nesbitt (BBC2, 1988-1999, 2008-2014)
A while ago I looked back at the comedy sketch show Naked Video, which did well enough for two regular characters to be given spin-off series. One of them was The Baldy Man, and this is the other one, which also starred Gregor Fisher. The first full-length episode of Rab C Nesbitt was a Christmas special that was only shown on BBC2 Scotland in 1988, before graduating to a full series in that was shown nationally in 1990, and it was a popular Scottish sitcom long before Still Game came along.
Rab is a somewhat unlikely comedy character to connect with viewers. He is a slob to a remarkable level who often likes to spend his time sat at home usually watching the “fitba” on TV. He often wears a suit and string vest along with a dirty headband, and he also likes to go on rants about the situation in his life (and often addresses the camera), which when accompanied by his rather thick Glaswegian accent sometimes came across to viewers as rather bizarre but amusing.
We also meet Rab’s family, his long-suffering wife Mary, along with two teenage sons Gash and Burney, although the only communication he seemed to have with them was trying to hit them over the head with a rolled-up newspaper after having enough of their cheek. Rab gets away from all this by going down the pub for a drink or three with his friend Jamesie, which often leads to more chaos.
The show also wasn’t too afraid to tackle some more serious subjects than the average sitcom, including illness, prison, and a huge amount of marital trouble. Put it this way, this wasn’t one big happy family. The show ended up doing well enough for there to be plenty of celebrities making guest appearances, including Stanley Baxter and Sylvester McCoy (who played Rab’s long-lost brother).
Rab C Nesbitt eventually ran for eight series, along with a Radio Times cover, a stage tour, a script book, plus plenty of repeat runs, and all of these episodes were released on DVD. Then, after a break of about a decade, Rab and his family returned for two further series, and the show practically picked up where it left off, with much more trouble, ranting and skewed observations on life, proving that although Rab was now older, he wasn’t much wiser. There have now been 66 episodes in total spanning 25 years.