One Foot In The Grave
An episode guide by Matthew Newton

Written by David Renwick
Produced and Directed by Susan Belbin (unless otherwise stated)

A BBC Production.

REGULAR CAST: Richard Wilson (Victor Meldrew), Annette Crosbie (Margaret Meldrew).

All episodes are 30 minutes in duration unless otherwise stated.

Series One

1  ALIVE AND BURIED (4th January 1990)
"I've been replaced by a box...It's standard procedure apparently for a man my age. The next stage is to stick you inside one." Made redundant at 60, Victor Meldrew has a lot more time on his hands - at least when he's not having to contend with age concern workers, unreliable mechanics and the consequences of reviving his magic act.
GUEST CAST: Susie Blake (Mrs Inglis), Valerie Minifie (Mrs Jellis), Doreen Mantle (Jean Warboys), Owen Brenman (Nick Swainey), Nick Maloney (Garage Manager), Simon Greenall (Police Officer).
NOTES: Owen Brenman appears in the first episode as Nick, an age concern worker. From the second series onward he would become a regular character.

2  THE BIG SLEEP (11th January 1990)
Victor is surrounded by death, including his cousin Geoffrey who had also just taken early retirement at the age of 60. This brings on rampant hyperchondria and ultimately an apparent near death experience.
GUEST CAST: Faye Maguire (Window Cleaner), Christopher Saul (1st Jehovah's Witness), David Peart (2nd Jehovah's Witness), Kay Adshead (Keep Fit Instructress), Leonard Lowe (Len), Danny O'Dea (Michael), Hilary Mason (Elspeth), Pamela Lane (Nurse), Lisa Bluthal (Make Up Girl), Helen Fraser (Dr Snellgrove), Colin Ward-Lewis (Voice of DJ).

3  THE VALLEY OF FEAR (18th January 1990)
There's a funny smell by the sideboard, a cat in the freezer and an old woman in the loft. However, Victor is more concerned with starting a residents' association after being mugged.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Gabrielle Blunt (Mrs Birkett), Christopher Ryan (Plumber), David Keys (Plumber's Assistant), Walter Sparrow (George), Peter Corey (Mr Prout), Jonathan Kydd (Market Stall Holder), Jake Wood (1st Yob), Joseph Wright (2nd Yob), Donald Bisset (Bowls Player).

4  I'LL RETIRE TO BEDLAM (25th January 1990)
It's Sunday morning and Victor is in a good mood. Things can only get worse, and rapidly do, with a morning trapped in a shed by a swarm of bees, a trying trip to the eye specialist and a spot of babysitting. However, there is worse in store for Victor...
GUEST CAST: Rebecca Stevens (Iris), Roger Hammond (Mr Gillespie), John Bluthal (Mr Jellinek), Cecily Hobbs (Eye Clinic Nurse), Norman Lumsden (Mr Parslow), Evie Garratt (Old Woman), Victoria Hasted (TV Producer), Joolia Cappleman (Cleaner), Jim Barclay (Mr Davidson), Edward Harris (Dylan), Simon Bright (Elliott), John Cassady (Hospital Nurse), Heather Canning (Hospital Doctor), Tony Mathews (Tory MP).

5  THE ETERNAL QUADRANGLE (1st February 1990)
Victor has taken up art lessons. Margaret is upset to discover that he has been drawing a nude woman, especially when the nude woman offers him a job. While Margaret suspects Victor of having an affair it turns out that she too has an admirer.
GUEST CAST: Angus MacKay (Art Teacher), Gillian Barge (Doreen Mauleverer), John Barnard (Harold Whorton), David Battley (Carpet Fitter), Peter Copley (Leonard).

6  THE RETURN OF THE SPECKLED BAND (8th February 1990)
Victor and Margaret are preparing for their holiday to Athens. They must first cope with Mrs Warboys's food poisoning, the simple matter of having their electric metre read, and an escaped snake...
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Clive Mantle (Electricity Man), John Carter (Mr Berenger), Lloyd McGuire (Garden Centre Manager), Willie Ross (Rick the Dustman).
NOTES: The episode title is a reference to a Sherlock Holmes story, in which the titular speckled band was a snake. This is the first episode in which Victor exclaims "I don't believe it!"

Series Two

Victor and Margaret return from their holiday to find out their house has been demolished. Six months later they move into a new house, which means they have to hold a housewarming party. But why has no-one turned up?
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Michael Robbins (1st Irate Neighbour), Doremy Vernon (2nd Irate Neighbour), Owen Brenman, Peter Corey (Mr Prout), Michael Bilton (Mr Drewitt).
NOTES: This episode reintroduces Nick Swainey as a semi-regular character; his previous encounter with Victor in Alive and Buried is referred to. Peter Corey re-appears as Mr Prout, having previously appeared in The Valley of Fear.

2  WE HAVE PUT HER LIVING IN THE TOMB (11th October 1990)
What can possibly go wrong when Victor and Margaret are looking after a pet tortoise while Margaret's god-daughter is on holiday? And has someone been using TCP?
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Sarah Mortimer (Jennifer), Andrew Powell (Sky TV Salesman), Malcolm Frederick (Car Park Attendant).

3  DRAMATIC FEVER (18th October 1990)
Margaret is joining an amateur dramatic society. Meanwhile, Victor is writing a situation comedy - when he isn't continuing a feud against a litterbug.
GUEST CAST: Dick Sullivan (Plumber), Billy Clarke (Plumber's Mate), Mark Baxter (Postman), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Hilary), Gareth Armstrong (Graham), Bill Monks (Martin), Fleur Chandler (Desirée Gibson); Terry Taplin (Jasper Gibson), Geoff Parry (Gerry) with the voices of John Sessions and Chris Emmett (Snooker Competition Entrants).
NOTES: The Swedish entrant to the snooker competition gives a name that sounds very like Eric Idle, the writer and performer of the theme song.

4  WHO WILL BUY? (25th October 1990)
There's a new member of the Meldrew household - Victor's ventriloquist's dummy. Meanwhile, Victor has to contend with a bendy dinosaur salesman and Margaret befriends a lonely old blind man.
GUEST CAST: William Vanderpuye (Toy Salesman), Owen Brenman, Janine Duvitski (Pippa), Angus Deayton (Patrick), Patricia Greene (Jill Archer) and Jimmy Jewel (Albert).
NOTES: This episode introduces Patrick and Pippa, the Meldrews' neighbours.

5  LOVE AND DEATH (8th November 1990)
Victor and Margaret are staying with April and Vince, old friends who now run a boarding house in a seaside resort. Vince has made Victor a very unusual present, but it's Victor's behaviour that is worrying Margaret.
GUEST CAST: Myrtle Devenish (Elderly Lady on Train), Georgina Hale (April Bluett), Stephen Lewis (Vince Bluett), Leigh Samuels (Petra), Patricia Martinelli (Marie), Peter Burroughs (Rusty), Paul Mari (Policeman).

6  TIMELESS TIME (15th November 1990)
It's night time and Victor can't sleep. And that means that Margaret can't either.
NOTES: This episode features just Richard Wilson and Annette Crosbie and is set entirely in the Meldrews' bedroom. It also reveals Victor and Margaret's great tragedy - they had a son called Stuart who died as a child.

1990 Christmas Special

WHO'S LISTENING (27th December 1990)
"All the miseries in the world seem a hundred times worse at Christmas." Victor isn't in a seasonal mood thanks to Mrs Warboys's nativity play, a hostage crisis and 263 garden gnomes. However, Victor's troubles are tiny compared with those of the small boy who wants his dead father home. [60 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Cathy Shipton (Mrs Burridge), Geoffrey Chater (Rev Tom Croker), Janine Duvitski, Angus Deayton, Chase Marks (Adam Burridge), Bob Appleby (Ted) and Enn Reitel (Mr Starkey).
NOTES: This episode was originally billed in the Radio Times as One Foot In The Christmas Grave.

1991 Christmas Special

THE MAN IN THE LONG BLACK COAT (30th December 1991)
Victor's feud with Patrick is continuing with a vengeance following the garden gnome incident. Victor is also keeping an allotment and has bought a job lot of radioactive horse manure. Meanwhile, Pippa is pregnant and Mr Swainey's grandmother has died. [50 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Cecily Hobbs (Receptionist), Owen Brenman, Michael Robbins (Mr Killick). SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE: Eric Idle (Dr Mervyn Whale).
NOTES: The events of Who's Listening are referred to, and indeed a surviving gnome can be seen in Victor's garden.

Series Three

1  MONDAY MORNING WILL BE FINE (2nd February 1992)
After a burglary Victor decides not to replace his television set in order to give him and Margaret more opportunity to get out of the house. However, a trip to the pub results in a disconcerting experience with an old friend.
GUEST CAST: Tony Millan (Jack Aylesbury), Jan Ravens (Pat Aylesbury), Richard Davies (Billy), Diana Coupland (Meg), Jonathan Kydd (Chippie Joe), James Hickish (Detective Gannis), Nick Ball (Detective Diller), Helen Patrick (Sales Assistant).

2  DREAMLAND (9th February 1992)
Margaret is having a recurring dream about murdering someone who looks like Victor. However, it's Margaret who is starting to irritate Victor. That is, until she disappears.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Owen Brenman, Damaris Hayman (Elderly Lady), Julie Hewlett (Policewoman), Barbara Grant (1st Lady in Teashop), Annette Keir (2nd Lady in Teashop) and Enn Reitel (The Tramp).

3  THE BROKEN REFLECTION (16th February 1992)
Alfred, Victor's accident prone brother, is making his first visit from New Zealand for 25 years. Victor is not looking forward to his stay, preferring to act as a neighbourhood vigilante.
GUEST CAST: Paul Courtenay Hugh (Chinese Youth), John Shin (Chinese Customer), Sulin Looi (Chinese Girl), Vincent Wong (Chinese Chef), Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Jim Sweeney (Sales Representative), Michael Jones (Toddler), Ruth Burton (Young Mother), Peter Heppelthwaite (Workman) and Richard Pearson (Alfred Meldrew).
NOTES: Patrick refers to the unfortunate incident with the tortoise from We Have Put Here Living In The Tomb, somewhat strangely since he was on holiday at the time.

4  THE BEAST IN THE CAGE (23rd February 1992)
Victor experiences road rage when he spends the bank holiday stuck in a motorway traffic jam.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Trevor Byfield (Salmon), Louise Duprey (Lisa), Tish Allen (Carol) with the voices of Eric Idle and John Du Prez (Car Mechanics).
NOTES: The entire episode is set in Victor's car. The voices of the singing car mechanics were provided by the writer and arranger of the show's theme tune.

Mr Swainey has brought back Victor a present from his holiday - an unlucky charm. Victor thinks that Mrs Stebbings's tv aerial is laughing at him and his resulting misfortune. Meanwhile, Patrick and Pippa are having problems trying to sell their house.
GUEST CAST: Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Owen Brenman, Britt Morrow (Young Wife), Hilda Braid (Mrs Skimpson), Steve Perry (The Cyclist), Peter Aubrey (Mr Tildsley), Louise Kerr (Mrs Tildsley) with the voice of John Challis (Jack the Burglar).

6  THE WORST HORROR OF ALL (8th March 1992)
Even a shed falling on him cannot upset Victor when he finally gets a new job. However, before starting work he must first contend with some unwanted visitors and a trip to the BBC organised by Mrs Warboys.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Harold Goodwin (Window Cleaner), John Rutland (Wilfred), Jean Challis (Mildred), Gordon Peters (Ronnie), Bobby Bragg (Warm Up Man), William Chubb (Man in Taxi), Rowan Suart (Woman in Taxi), Geoffrey Fordham-Barnett (Man in Wheelchair).
NOTES: Ronnie and Mildred, old and boring friends of the Meldrews, were first mentioned in Timeless Time and here appear for the first time.

Series Four

1  THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (31st January 1993)
Victor is employing a workman in the garden, although he never seems to do any work. On the other side of the fence, Patrick has acquired a pet daschund called Denzil.
GUEST CAST: Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Daniel Peacock (Kazanzi), Sarah Bolden (Susan Kazanzi) with the voice of Katharine Page (Margaret's Mother).
NOTES: During the course of the episode Margaret's mother dies. She had been frequently mentioned but never appeared.

2  DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM (7th February 1993)
Margaret falls ills to nervous exhaustion that has been building up over the last 34 years. She has little chance for peace and quiet in which to recuperate, especially with Victor's problems with gorilla suits and the waste disposal system. She is however cheered by a visit from an old friend.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Owen Brenman, Stephen Lea (Unemployed Man), Helen Lederer (Andrea Temple), Joanna Bacon (Woman), Laura Cox (Mrs Ashcroft).

3  HEARTS OF DARKNESS (14th February 1993)
During a trip to the countryside with Mrs Warboys and Mr Swainey, the Meldrews manage to get lost. Attempting to find help Victor comes across a badly run old people's home and sees the opportunity to put things right.
GUEST CAST: Owen Brenman, Doreen Mantle, Bill Gavin (Mr Gorshin), Arabella Weir (Sonia), Janet Henfrey (Miss Lander), Melody Brown (Rachel), Nick Scott (Martin), Katharine Page (Mrs Endicott), Marcia Myrie (1st Official), Seymour Matthews (2nd Official).
NOTES: The episode opens and closes with a bizarre shot of a rabbit hutch and a Bugs Bunny doll. This seems to be an allegory for the theme of the episode. Possibly.

4  WARM CHAMPAGNE (21st February 1993)
Victor returns from holiday unable to walk due to sunburnt feet. His mood doesn't improve, thanks to rows with the neighbours and the addition of a streetlamp to his bedroom furniture. This gives Margaret a dilemma when she is contacted by Ben, a pleasant man who she met on holiday.
GUEST CAST: Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Anthony Watson (1st Boy), Simon Long (2nd Boy), Susan Barnard (Ambulancewoman), Alan Cooke (Ambulanceman), Georgine Beer (Mrs Staveacre), Tristram Jellinek (Ben).

5  THE TRIAL (28th February 1993)
Victor has been selected for jury service. He hasn't been required in court yet, but he is on call so he is stuck in the house all day and must somehow beat his boredom.
NO GUEST CAST. [Without Annette Crosbie].
NOTES: This episode is a virtual monologue, featuring only Richard Wilson

Victor is preparing for a meeting of his magician's club. He now has a job as a lollipop man, but is being bothered by hoax calls from the fire brigade. Patrick and Pippa are due to visit the Meldrews' for a reconciliation meal, but Patrick isn't looking forward to the experience.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Chris Walker (1st Fire Officer), Owen Brenman, Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Simon Fisher-Becker (Magician), Vincent Leigh (2nd Fire Officer).

Comic Relief Special

Bathtime gives Victor another opportunity to contemplate life's mysteries. [8 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Paul Merton (Voice of the Dentist). [Annette Crosbie voice only].
NOTES: This special episode was shown as part of the BBC's Comic Relief telethon in 1993. It has no official title (and only perfunctory opening titles); the title I have given it here is my own invention, but it seems fairly appropriate.

1993 Christmas Special

ONE FOOT IN THE ALGARVE (26th December 1993)
The Meldrews are going on holiday to Portugal with Mrs Warboys. While Margaret is concerned about her approaching 60th birthday, Mrs Warboys is looking forward to meeting her pen friend, with thoughts of romance. Meanwhile, a journalist is attempting to retrieve a vitally important camera film which just happens to be in Margaret's handbag. [95 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Peter Cook (Martin Trout), Joan Sims (Lady on Plane), Edward de Souza (Alfonso), Louis Mahoney (Humphrey), Eamonn Walker (Hugo), Louise Duprey (Shirley), Craig Ferguson (Glaswegian), Anna Nicholas (Isabella), Benjamin Falcao (Old Man), Margarida Rodrigues (Waitress), Augusta Portela (1st Policeman), Eduardo Viana (2nd Policeman), José Gomes (1st Farmworker), Jorge Parente (2nd Farmworker), André Maia (Fisherman), Jorge Sequerra (Coastguard), Joao D'Avila (Mortuary Attendant), Maria D'Aires (Mortuary Assistant), Luis Zagaio (Photo Shop Owner), Lidia Franco (Maria), Joao Lagarto.
NOTES: This episode was presented more as a stand alone film, not even carrying the ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE title. The end credits used a longer version of the theme tune (with an extra verse which is not normally used).

Series Five

1  THE MAN WHO BLEW AWAY (25th December 1994)
Patrick is preparing for an important meeting with some Japanese businessmen. Next door, Victor's stolen car has been recovered, but he isn't very happy about it. Then the Meldrews are visited by Mr Foskett - a man who they met on holiday 17 years previously. [40 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Janine Duvitski, Angus Deayton, Brian Murphy (Mr Foskett), Daniel Smith (Ian Grimwade), Ryan O'Leary (Neil Grimwade).
NOTES: This episode was the 1994 Christmas special. The end credits are accompanied by "The Laughing Policeman" (as heard at a noisy party which keeps Victor awake) instead of the regular theme tune.

2  ONLY A STORY (1st January 1995)
Mrs Warboys is staying with the Meldrews following the flooding of her house and is starting to irritate Margaret. However, Victor is a lot calmer than usual thanks to the reflexology treatment that he has started receiving.
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Owen Brenman, Steve Humphrey (Reporter).

3  THE AFFAIR OF THE HOLLOW LADY (8th January 1995)
Victor thinks that the woman in the greengrocers fancies him. Meanwhile, Mrs Warboys has won a wax model of herself and the Meldrews are having problems with their door locks.
GUEST CAST: Richard Lumsden (Nurse), Edna Monterel (Woman in Hospital), Doreen Mantle, Barbara Windsor (Millicent), Nick Maloney (Laverick).

4  REARRANGING THE DUST (15th January 1995)
When Victor and Margaret visit their solicitors in order to make a will they discover precisely why a waiting room is so-called.
GUEST CAST: Antony Sher (Fussy Man), Damaris Hayman (Receptionist), Valerie Minifie (1st Woman), Laura Cox (2nd Woman).
NOTES: This is another single scene episode, being set entirely within the solicitor's waiting room.

5  HOLE IN THE SKY (22nd January 1995)
Patrick is looking forward to his trip to stay with Pippa's brother after an embarrassing visit to an Armenian restaurant in order to attempt to make up with Victor. Meanwhile, the Meldrews are employing a pair of very strange workmen and Margaret is getting jealous of a marionette.
GUEST CAST: Janine Duvitski, Angus Deayton, Christopher Ryan (McKendrick Twins), Hilary Mason (Mrs Stewkley), Peter Tuddenham (Mr Stewkley), Michael Fenton Stevens (Geoffrey Croker).
NOTES: This episode features a strange scene in which an angry woman's dialogue is bleeped. It is unclear whether this was intentional or simply the BBC censoring excessively strong language.

6  THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (29th January 1995)
Victor gets a new job as a driver for a wealthy owner of three expensive cars. Margaret suspects that romance may be in the air for Mr Swainey.
GUEST CAST: Owen Brenman, Anita Chellamah (Tania), John Bird (Lewis Atterbury), Gordon Peters (Ronnie), Barbara Ashcroft (Mildred), Ronald Leigh-Hunt (Roy Atterbury), Annette Kerr (Ruth Atterbury), Jennie Stoller (Dentist).
NOTES: This episode features a return appearance of Ronnie and Mildred, previously seen in The Worst Horror of All, although Mildred is played by a different actress.

1995 Christmas Special

THE WISDOM OF THE WITCH (25th December 1995)
When Cousin Ursula dies the Meldrews have to clear out her house in the country, although a witch has predicted that Victor is about to come to an untimely end. Patrick and Pippa have finally sold their house and are preparing to move. Patrick has a new job with his own secretary - something which puts his life in danger. [60 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Phil Daniels (Melvin), Rachel Bell (Lorna), Joanne Engelsman (Christine), Bruce Byron (Tunstall), Peter McNally (Gridley), Peter Terry (Postman), Virginie Gilchrist (Party Guest), Tony Sibbald (American), Boris (Edwin).
NOTES: This episode finally reveals Patrick and Pippa's surname - it is Trench.

1996 Christmas Special

STARBOUND (26th December 1996)
The Meldrews return from a long weekend away to find a man living in their shed. Victor is suffering from a hernia but this hasn't stopped him getting a job as a gardener working for Patrick's new boss. Meanwhile, Mr Swainey's mother claims that she is abducted by aliens from Neptune every night. [60 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Doreen Mantle, Angus Deayton, Janine Duvitski, Owen Brenman, Ray Winstone (Millichope), Lucy Davis (Mrs Blanchard), Roli Okorodudu (Primary School Teacher), Elizabeth Chambers (Dog Owner) and Rula Lenska (Fenella Fortune).
NOTES: The end credits are accompanied by "Mr Tambourine Man" by The Byrds (as sung by Victor when he is high) instead of the regular theme tune.

1997 Christmas Special

ENDGAME (25th December 1997)
Victor and Margaret have new neighbours, the McVities, who they are actually getting on well with. But for how much longer will it last, especially when Victor buys a haunted caravan, and then inadvertently kidnaps the mother of a millionaire? [65 minutes duration].
GUEST CAST: Tim Brooke-Taylor (Derek McVitie), Marian McLoughlin (Betty McVitie), Owen Brenman, Usha Patel (Mrs Khan), Norman Eshley (DI Rickles), Ian Redford (Archie), Robin Davies (Rambler), Christopher Robbie (Dr Clarke), Regina Freedman (Doctor), Arif Hussein (Mr Khan) with Matthew Whittle, Ian Swann, Alisdair Ross, Nicholas Moore, Coral Lorne.


  • During the first series the Meldrews live at 37 Wyngate Drive. Their telephone number is 770301. At the start of the second series they move to 19 Riverbank (Patrick and Pippa lived at number 17) where the telephone number is 4291.

  • Victor's starsign is Virgo (as mentioned in In Luton Airport No-One Can Hear You Scream).

  • Several episodes did not open with the regular title sequence and theme tune, namely The Trial, One Foot in the Algarve, Rearranging the Dust, The Wisdom of the Witch, Starbound and Endgame.

  • The location for the Meldrews' house is in Mudeford, near Christchurch. (Thanks to Matthew Deegan for this information).

This guide is copyright Matthew Newton and may not be reproduced without permission.

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