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Series One



A BBC Pebble Mill production. Colour. 6 x 50 minute episodes.
Broadcast dates for original UK transmission on BBC1.

Credits


Writer: Tim Firth
Director: Brian Farnham
Producer: Chris Griffin
Executive Producers: Barry Hanson and Chris Parr
Script Editors: Elinor Day and Lissa Evans
Designer: Amanda Atkinson
Music: Thomas Lawes (incorrectly credited as Thomas Lawe)
Theme Music: The Milltown Brothers

Regular Cast
Hodge: Colin Buchanan
Eric: Paul Haigh
Spock: Stephen Tompkinson
Polson: David MacCreedy
Laura: Lucy Akhurst
Lloydy: Adrian Hood
Ally: Kate Gartside
Rundle: Kieran Flynn
Diesel: Tony Marshall
Dawn: Caroline Catz
Derek Lennox: Sam Graham
Bob Betty: Mark Fletcher
Doyle: Darren Brown
Jeanetta: Susan Wooldridge [2-6]
Kirsty: Holiday Grainger [3-6]
Heron Man: Freddie Davis [1,3]
Mr Wang: Ozzie Yue [1,3,4,5]
Mrs Ruddock: Matylok Gibbs [1,3,4]
Pauline Disley: Joan Campion [1,3]
Colin Disley: Gordon Langford Rowe [1,3]
Donna: Tracey Booth [1,2]
Frazer: Peter McEnery [2,6]
Lesley: Michelle Chadwick [3,5]

1:   Hodge's Girlfriend 4 January 1994

Guest Cast: Mark Arden (Ransom), Ann Pennington (Monica Cotis), Gwennillian Davies (Welsh Woman), Brinley Jenkins (Welsh Man), Claude Close (Business Man), Paul Dore (MT Private).

The members of 2 Section at Roker Bridge TA are getting distracted by revising trivia prior to a charity quiz that Eric is organising to take place after the forthcoming weekend exercise in Abergwen. However, Hodge has decided that he doesn't want to go to Wales, preferring to spend his time with his new girlfriend, Laura, who sings in Mr Wang's Chinese restaurant.

Notes: The first episode takes a leisurely pace in establishing the characters and succeeds surprisingly well given the large ensemble cast. The focus is Hodge and Eric, given the catalyst of Hodge's burgeoning relationship with Laura. Jeanetta Scarry is mentioned as one of Hodge's earlier obsessions but there is little indication of the importance that she will have.
The opening scene of the episode features the company on exercise, while captions display their names and occupations. Given the obsession that the characters have with nicknames, this would be a rare occasion when their full names are given.
In common with the first episodes of many other shows, "Hodge's Girlfriend" makes use of a device where a new character is introduced to an already established team, in this case Dawn. However, Caroline Catz's involvement in the episode is minimal, compared with her later importance. Dawn's first meeting with Eric is particularly low key, since Eric is attempting to hide from an angry Polson at the time.
Claude Close, who here plays a customer in Mr Wang's restaurant who incurs Hodge's anger by insulting Laura's singing, would later appear as a similar character in Tim Firth's later show, Once Upon A Time In The North. He later appears as a different character in the first episode of series two.

Choice Quotes: "I sent off to that Dateline computer once. I sent in my name and address and a photo of Burt Reynolds. Computer matched me with some woman from Morecombe who'd sent it a photo of Meryl Streep." (Lloydy describes his experiences with a dating agency).
"You know Lloydy, you can tell a lot about a bloke from the word he uses to describe procreation. Love-making: kind of extended and creative. Shag: over very quickly and a lot to do with carpets." (Ally makes an observation about Lloydy).

2:   Ally's Husband 11 January 1994


Guest Cast: Julian Fellowes (Dermott), Fine Time Fontayne (Goldfish Man), Ian Blower (Bucket Man), Jeff Nuttal (Ratman), Rodney Litchfield (Harry The Chip), Tony Turner (Tony Roundhead), Chris Bralsford (Aubergine Man), Sarah Thurstan (Radish Woman), Sally Sheridan (Waitress), Joseph Vickers (Boy 1), Michael Daley (Boy 2).

Ally's husband, Frazer, is much older than his wife and is having a mid-life crisis which leads to him joining a Civil War re-enactment society. The group is due to stage a battle at the Roker Vale Show, where the TA is organising a recruitment caravan. Hodge is not attending the show, telling Eric that he is taking Laura to Blackpool. Meanwhile, Polson is enjoying the fact that in real life he is now Rundle's boss.

Notes: This episode is unusual in concentrating heavily on a guest character, namely Frazer, Ally's husband as played by Peter McEnery. Frazer would be often mentioned in subsequent episodes but his only other appearance in the show is a cameo in the last episode of this season.
Julian Fellowes, who played Dermott, won an Oscar in 2002 for Best Original Screenplay for the writing Gosford Park, which was directed by Robert Altman.
The civil war society that Fraser joins is called The Twisted Pike, which sounds very similar to The Sealed Knot, a real re-enactment organisation.
This episode introduces Susan Wooldridge as Jeanetta Scarry, with whom Hodge had an affair when he was 17. However, there is no indication of why Hodge is meeting her in Blackpool.
Aside from the main plot, the episode includes some wonderfully bizarre scenes, such as the party where the attendees are wandering around with vegetables as part of a party game. Later, Eric is seen playing a pub computer game called "Jungle Battle" (where Lloydy's repeated advice is that "He needs a monkey").

Choice Quotes: "Eric - am I likely to invite Laura round for a meal to snuggle up with a glass of wine and watch 20,000 Zulus slaughter Peter O'Toole?" (Hodge's reaction when Eric brings him a video of "Zulu Dawn" for his night in with Laura, instead of "When Harry Met Sally").
"I don't really like students."   "College was a bit of a bad move then." (Dawn explains to Ally why she joined the TA).
"We were here first!"   "Historically that's undeniable." (Spock's response when The Twisted Pike claim that the TA have encroached on their arena at the Roker Vale Show).

3:   Eric's Job 18 January 1994


Guest Cast: Annie Hayes (Mrs O'Massey), Anthony May (Mr Weddle), Kate Lynn-Evans (Headmistress), Judith Davis (Bus Driver), Daphne Oxenford (Customer), Pauline Fleming and Cornelia (Mother and Child).

Eric's plans to improve his life seem to be getting somewhere when he gets a job working for Mr Wang. Unfortunately this particular job involves him walking around Roker Bridge wearing a dragon costume. Meanwhile, Hodge is spending more time in Blackpool.

Notes: The school where Dawn does her teaching practice is Roker Vale County Primary. Life there is enlivened by the fact that the headmaster is having an affair with the reception class teacher. These sequences were filmed at Sudell Primary School in Darwen, and the staff and pupils are included in the credits list for the episode.
This episode introduces Jeanetta's daughter, Kirsty, played by Holiday Grainger (credited as Holly Grainger for later seasons), when it is revealed that Hodge is her father.
There is a return appearance for Freddie Davies in this episode, who plays a customer at Hodge's garden centre who bought a decoy heron in the first episode. This would not be the last time that the character appears.
In this episode we see the town sign for Roker Bridge for the first time. It reveals that Roker Bridge is twinned with Aix-En-Availle.

Choice Quotes: Lloydy: "Just lie - they never check...My last CV I put I were a grade 3 BLT. That's a sandwich. Sounds like an engineering certificate."   Spock: "You got the job?"   Diesel: "Nah, tragically they were looking for a cheese bap or upwards." (Lloydy advises Eric on filling in job application forms).
"Please don't think that having a daughter automatically makes someone a father." (Jeanetta to Hodge).

4:   Lloydy's Fish 25 January 1994


Guest Cast: Tony Haygarth (Mitch Maddox), Nick Miles (Aspinall), Edward Ludford (Policeman), Cherry Merriman (Teacher 2), Rosemary Bellford (Teacher 1), Stefan Escreet (Terry), Keith Ladd (Nigel), Oliver Smith (Mister Ironfoot), Sally Sheridan (Waitress).

After months of secrecy, Lloydy's job is revealed. He works for Mitch Maddox, a wealthy land owner who has decided to be a farmer. Lloydy's latest task is to collect a valuable koi carp from Heathrow Airport. Meanwhile, the annual TA drill competition is taking place and Polson is determined that his section is going to win.

Notes: The main guest star for this episode is Tony Haygarth, who starred in the early 80s comedy Rosie. Nick Miles, who plays Lloydy's colleague, appeared in the BBC police series Backup alongside Kate Gartside (Ally).
The TA competition is in honour of Sergeant Major Tom Sherrett, who had a grocery transport business and a bizarre sense of humour; the prize is a crate of tinned ravioli.

Choice Quotes: "Mitch Maddox is not a farmer. He is a man with a farm. The 'er' bit takes years of working for." (Aspinall's opinion of his employer).
"You've got to help me Hodge. I need a fish."   "You know the rules Lloydy. You've got to do a trick first." (Lloydy turns to Hodge when he needs a replacement koi carp).

5:   Diesel's Garage 1 February 1994


Guest Cast: Paul McKenzie (Lennie), Alistair Petrie (Big Matt), Ralph Ineson (Iggy), Judith Davis (Bus Driver), Robert Whelan (Mister Breaker), David Williams (Man on Bus) Colin Meredith (Irate Truck Driver).

Diesel's garage has some competition from a new service station, so he wants to brighten it up by buying some spotlights. However, his brother has spent their money on a church spire in memory of their father. Meanwhile, Laura has dumped Hodge following a misunderstanding over Kirsty and Eric is finally making progress in his tentative relationship with Dawn.

Notes: This episode picks up on a number of threads from its immediate predecessor, with Lloydy recovering his fish from Mitch Maddox. Tony Haygarth is credited for a return appearance as Lloydy's ex-employer, but he doesn't actually appear in the transmitted episode. Eric's dragon costume also makes a return appearance, rising up from the river to frighten a fisherman.

Choice Quotes:"It's sort of a mixture of chess, Mah-Jong and contract bridge."   "What's it called?"   "Gurkha Tank Battle." (Lloydy introduces the board game that he has invented).

6:   Kirsty's Biscuit 8 February 1994


Guest Cast: Guy Nicholls (Mr National Service), Renny Krupinski (Biscuit Executive), Martine Browne (Katrina), Andrew Darbyshire (Acolyte), Joanna Swain (Ursul), Heather Phoenix (Ulrika), Andy Bradford (Monster 1), Andreas Petrides (Monster 2).

While the TA are away on an exercise in Germany, Laura is preparing to sing at a conference being organised by Jeanetta. However, she doesn't know that this is down to Hodge's influence. A number of metaphorical landmines are about to explode...

Notes: The final episode builds up to a climax, before finally wrapping up many of its loose ends in a satisfying manner. Although, of course, it is left open for a return visit to Roker Bridge...
Ozzie Yue is credited as Mr Wang but does not appear.
The episode features some actual location filming in Germany, although the exercise itself was filmed on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, with the real TA appearing as the Germans.
The ferry to Germany is showing a fictional action film - Death Watch Commando starring Rick Patridge ("What good is honesty when everyone else has a machete?").

Choice Quotes: Spock: "We could play a game...a lateral thinking game."   Lloydy: "Lateral thinking?"   Diesel: "He hasn't managed it vertically yet."
"You know what will happen. I'll train and train and train, and just end up this nice bloke who can run eight miles and kill people with an SA-80." (Spock doesn't think that the TA is toughening him up, the reason he joined).




Compiled by Matthew Newton

More on Preston Front at Newton's Laws Of Television 

Copyright MJ Newton 2003. All rights reserved.
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