It’s been mentioned elsewhere, but to make it official, the sitcom Not Going Out has been recommissioned by BBC1 for a third series. Another eight episodes, I believe. This is great news. Robin’s Nest, which I have just finished watching in its entirety on the ever-reliable Paramount Comedy 2, ran for six series (1977-1981). It’s been weird watching it again. I enjoyed the first few at the time, having been a big fan of Man About The House and George & Mildred (which spun off first, in 1976), but I watched it this time out of cultural curiosity.
How times have changed! First of all: humorous Irish character – one-armed Albert Riddle (David Kelly) – whose main joke is that he’s stupid. Quaintly stupid, but stupid, nonetheless. He was my favourite character, of course! Second: endless hand-on-hip gay jokes – not vicious ones, but there nonetheless. The main set-up of the whole series is that chef Robin Tripp (the charismatic Richard O’Sullivan) and wife Vicky (Tessa Wyatt aka “How could she do that to me?” as she’s known by Tony Blackburn) have her domineering ex-army father, James Nicholls (Tony Britton, mugging for Britain) breathing down their neck, as he is the sleeping partner in the pair’s French bistro in Fulham, perhaps the least atmospheric eaterie in the whole of London. (Seats: about 12 at a push.) Actually, Robin and Vicky weren’t married in series one, and were thus the first “common law” couple in British sitcom, according to the Radio Times Guide To Comedy. As someone who’s spent a great deal of the last two years banging his head against whiteboards trying to come up with plots for a similarly populist sitcom (albeit shown an hour to an hour and a half later), it’s amazing how little actually happens in an episode of Robin’s Nest! It’s always engaging, and O’Sullivan could carry anything with his cheeky teeth, but in what amounts to a full 22 minutes, either James or Albert have to run the restaurant for the night, and … well, and that’s about it. What easily-pleased times.
By the way, hats off to co-creators Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke, who wrote every episode of Man About The House (six series), every episode of George & MIldred (five series), and 14 episodes of this, giving up the ghost around series three and handing over to various others, including George Layton. If I ever complain ever again about my workload, sing the theme tune of Robin’s Nest at me. Doo-doo-do-do-do-dooo-do-doooh etc.