Open All Hours (BBC2, 1973-1976, BBC1, 1981-1985)
Recently I took a look back at The Two Ronnies and said that as well as being known for doing this show together, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett also had individual success in various sitcoms. Barker was in the hugely successful Porridge, but as good as that was, I always preferred this one myself. Open All Hours is a very long-running sitcom that started out as a one-off as part of the Seven Of One series (as did Porridge) in 1973.
The show went on to get a full series a few years later. All was as featuring Barker, Open All Hours also starred David Jason, who knew a thing or two about impressing in sitcoms, and you really couldn’t go wrong with such an entertaining double-act. The show was written by Roy Clarke who also wrote hundreds of episodes of Last Of The Summer Wine.
Open All Hours was set in a corner shop in South Yorkshire. Barker played Arkwright, was who rather old-fashioned, somewhat stingy, and also had a stutter. Jason played his nephew Granville, who was rather put upon, he wanted to get away from the shop, but he was always out doing errands on his bike or being told to “fetch yer cloth!”, which could be classed as the show’s catchphrase.
There was also much amusement from Arkwright having to deal with grumpy customers, trying to get pound notes in the till without having his fingers chopped off, and wondering if the bread will be delivered on time. The most regular other character was Nurse Gladys, who Arkwright was really fond of, and he would do anything to try and attract her attention.
Episodes would often end with Arkwright reflecting on what had happened during the episode whilst closing the shop late at night, and usually concluding “it’s been a funny old day”. When watching episodes back now, I can’t help but spend more time looking at all the old magazines and tins in the background, and wondering why everything seemed to cost 10½p.
There were 26 episodes of Open All Hours in four series, they were repeated constantly on various channels for many years afterwards, and there has also been a DVD release, but featuring no extras. And then, in 2013, the show returned as Still Open All Hours. Now Granville was the one in charge and wearing the big brown coat, and he was still falling off his bike at his age, honestly, will it ever end?
Not long after, Porridge was also revived for a series, now featuring the grandson of Fletcher, and it was rather odd seeing Barker’s two best-known sitcoms continuing without the man himself. Still Open All Hours has how run for six series, and there have been more episodes of the revival than the original version. This corner shop still hasn’t closed all these years on.