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End of Part One (1979-80)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of End of Part One (1979-80)
LWT for ITV, 15/4/1979-23/11/1980
14 x 30 min edns in two series, colour
DirectorGeoffrey Sax
WritersAndrew Marshall
 David Renwick
ProducersSimon Brett
 Humphrey Barclay

Cast: Denise Coffey (Vera Straightman); Tony Aitken (Norman Straightman); Fred Harris; Sue Holderness; Dudley Stevens; David Simeon; David J Grahame

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Norman and Vera Straightman want a quiet life but they are dogged by constant visitors and unwelcome guests from the world of television.

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This surreal TV spoof came from the pens of Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, subsequently co-creators of Whoops Apocalypse (ITV, 1982) and Hot Metal (ITV, 1986-88). Although often described as a mix of sketch show and sitcom, End of Part One is really a sketch show in which the sitcom element is merely one of the sketches, albeit a recurring and extended one. With an obvious debt to Monty Python - and perhaps especially Eric Idle's Rutland Weekend Television (BBC, 1975-76) - Marshall and Renwick (whose previous credits included sketches for the likes of the Two Ronnies and Bruce Forsyth, plus the successful BBC radio comedy The Burkiss Way) created a show of interlinked sketches parodying anything and everything seen on TV. As well as the surreal element, they used traditional sketch show humour, based on puns, sight gags and slapstick, with the occasional topical aside, a taste of another show both were to be involved in, Not the Nine O'Clock News (BBC, 1979-82).

In the first series, episodes loosely simulate an evening's TV (making for a natural way to link the various sketches), complete with continuity announcers, channel idents, soaps, TV programmes, TV personalities (such as David Attenborough), end credits and more. Occasionally the sketches have a mildly satirical edge (a regional TV channel, BBC East Anglia, is portrayed in scratched black and white as slow, old and irrelevant) but most sketches never stray beyond gentle spoof.

The series took its name from the parody soap that appeared throughout the first series, complete with spoofed opening credits. It featured 'ordinary' working-class couple Vera and Norman Straightman, whose quiet life is interrupted by a motley stream of visitors and odd events. Two recurring visitors are an unnamed, slightly camp male neighbour, oddly attired in suit and headscarf, and 'Mr Sprote of Hackney', a scruffy individual who lives in their sideboard and is treated like a pet.

The second series abandoned the loose structure of the first - though not the preoccupation with television - and all but dispensed with the Straightmans. They reappeared in the last episode, a black and white spoof Agatha Christie-style whodunnit in which a roomful of characters is killed off one by one until no suspect remains, whereupon the door opens and the Straightmans enter, announcing that now that everyone is dead they can return to the series.

Gosta Johansson

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Video Clips
1. Pope Clement At Large (1:06)
2. LWT call-up (2:23)
3. That's Bernard Braden's Show Really (2:35)
4. Sinus check-up (2:52)
Complete episode: part 1 (11:54)
Complete episode: part 2 (11:54)
One Foot In The Grave (1990-2000)
Rutland Weekend Television (1975-76)
Renwick, David (1951-)