The Comedy Vault – Brush Strokes.

Brush Strokes (BBC1, 1986-1991)

This is another sitcom that was rather popular with viewers throughout the late-80s, and going into the early-90s. All of the episodes of Brush Strokes were written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, who had already proven their comedy credentials by being behind such successes as Please Sir!, The Good Life, and Ever Decreasing Circles.

The main character was Jacko, who was played by Karl “you shouldn’t be scrubbing at your age, auntie!” Howman (who had previously appeared in the Esmonde and Larbey sitcom Get Some In!). Jacko was a painter and decorator who lived in London, and he managed to take being a “cheeky chappy” to new levels. He liked to flirt with the women whose houses he was working in, often to the point that he would start to date them, or ever consider marrying them.

His boss Lionel was rather grumpy, and along with his wife Veronica, they didn’t seem to realise that he was rather fond of their daughter Lesley, and secretary Sandra as well. Life at home consists of living with his sister Jean, and her husband Eric, who was his friend and work colleague as well as his brother-in-law (Eric was played by Mike Walling, who wrote episodes of various sitcoms himself including Birds Of A Feather, The Brittas Empire, and the mighty Not With A Bang).

The other main character is Elmo (not the one from Sesame Street), a rather dense individual who runs the pub that Jacko often visits (Elmo was played by Howard Lew Lewis, who also appeared in Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, and occasionally as a bumpkin-type on Noel’s House Party). By the later series, Jacko has made himself a few pounds, and launches his own business called Splosh. This meant that he would often answer the phone with a cheery “good morning, Splosh!”.

Elmo went up in the world too, and he turned his pub into a rather horrid bright pink wine bar, but Jacko remained a valued customer. Most episodes ended with Jacko finishing off painting a wall accompanied by the theme music “Because Of You” by Dexys Midnight Runners (which was also their final UK Top 40 hit single), and somehow was always rather relaxing to watch.

There were 40 episodes of Brush Strokes in five series, and they have all been released on DVD. There have been some repeats in recent years too. A year after this ended, Howman went on to star in yet another Esmonde and Larbey sitcom, which was Mulberry. I must admit that I have no memory of watching this though. I do remember watching in him Babes In The Wood though…


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