Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Bless This House (1971-76)

Courtesy of Fremantlemedia

Main image of Bless This House (1971-76)
ITV, 2/2/1971-22/4/1976
65 x 30 min episodes in six series, colour
DirectorWilliam G. Stewart
ProducerWilliam G. Stewart
Writers includeVince Powell
 Harry Driver
 Carla Lane
 Myra Taylor
 Dave Freeman

Cast: Sidney James (Sid Abbott); Robin Stewart (Mike Abbott); Sally Geeson (Sally Abbott); Diana Coupland (Jean Abbott); Anthony Jackson (Trevor); Patsy Rowlands (Betty)

Show full cast and credits

At home in South London with the chaotic Abbott family.

Show full synopsis

Bless This House was a fairly unusual British sitcom for its time in that the situation was conceived as a vehicle for its star, rather than as an idea for which a cast was then assembled. Like American sitcoms, it also used a rotating pool of writers, which included Dave Freeman, Vince Powell and Harry Driver, and Carla Lane and Myra Taylor.

The programme was the last and by far the most successful of many attempts to craft a small screen vehicle for Sid James, the hugely popular star of the Carry On films and Hancock's Half Hour (BBC, 1956-60). It also marked a watershed in his career by establishing him as an older family man, rather than the lecherous bachelor in eternal pursuit of 'dolly birds' that was his typical Carry On persona. The humour of the series revolved around the audience's acceptance of Sid as a befuddled, short-tempered but essentially loveable everyman with a prosaic approach to life, constantly frustrated by the pressures of a modern world he was unable to come to terms with. In particular, he found himself at odds with the permissive society (as expressed in the burgeoning sexuality of his daughter Sally), the artistic pretensions and counter-culture slang of his longhaired son Mike, and his wife Jean's dissatisfaction with domestic servitude (the latter especially in the episodes written by Lane and Taylor, creators of The Liver Birds, BBC, 1969-79).

In later series attempts were made to inject a little novelty into the simple formula: in one episode Sid played both his usual character and an unscrupulous lookalike with whom he is repeatedly confused; another featured a lengthy flashback to document his activities during the Second World War. But audiences were by and large happy with the basic set-up. It was a consistent ratings winner, partly on account of its calculated efforts to appeal to all generations of the home audience. It ran for a very healthy six series, in which time the children grew from school age to adulthood. The last episode aired just four days before James' death on stage in 1976.

Largely because of affection for the star, and its pleasantly nostalgic attitudes and concerns, the programme retains a large fan following. A partially re-cast film version was made in 1973 by the Carry On team of producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas.

Matthew Coniam

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Peaceful Sunday morning (3:26)
2. A misunderstanding (4:49)
2. A tidy home (4:06)
Complete episode: 'Day of Rest' (25:43)
Terry and June (1979-87)
James, Sidney (1913-1976)
Lane, Carla (1937-)
Powell, Vince (1928-2009) and Driver, Harry (1931-1973)
The Sitcom Family