May To December (BBC1, 1989-1994)
This is another of those sitcoms that was consistently popular throughout the early-90s. May To December starred Anton Rodgers, who had already long since proved that he could be good value in sitcoms, following his appearances in ITV’s Fresh Fields (where the boss often unexpectedly came round for dinner), and the sequel French Fields.
This was something rather different to that though, as Rodgers played Alec Callender (and he seemed to have picked up a Scottish accent from somewhere), a widowed middle-aged solicitor who began to feel that his job wasn’t too exciting, and he wondered where his life was going. He then meets Zoe, a PE teacher who is going through a divorce, and she is many years younger than him.
There is then the beginning of a rather unlikely romance. Alec becomes rather fond of Zoe, but not so much that he realised that she turned into a different woman after the second series. Alec also eventually meets Zoe’s parents, and he gets on rather well with them too. Some of the other regular characters are Alec’s son Jamie, along with his work colleagues Mrs Flood and Hilary (replaced by Rosie in the final series).
Viewers were keen to see how this rather cosy couple would develop, and after a while, Alec and Zoe got married, and he becomes a father again, after she gives birth to a daughter. If he wanted his life to be more interesting, it now is. There were 39 episodes of May To December in six series (including one Christmas special), but only the first two have been released on DVD. An indication of the popularity was when this was given a Radio Times cover.
Another notable thing is that the creator and the writer of the majority of episodes was Paul Mendelson, who would soon have another BBC1 sitcom on the go, after the launch of So Haunt Me, which ran for a few series, but wasn’t as successful. And eight episodes were written by Geoff Deane, the former frontman of pop group Modern Romance, as I have explained in a few other pieces. After the end on TV, there was one further series on BBC Radio 2 in 1998.
In more recent years, May To December has been one of the several sitcoms that have been repeated on the London Live channel. And although it was good seeing these characters again, this still doesn’t seem the right place to be showing old sitcoms. And this was in a 45-minute slot, meaning there were 15 minutes of advert breaks, which is rather ridiculous. There’s only so many times they can show that advert for Wowcher. I’m about to get immensely annoyed and I think I like it.