Goodnight Sweetheart was a hugely successful programme back in the ’90s, as it ran for six series, but I didnt’ really *get* ‘gentle comedy’ back then. I’ve cleared mellowed in older age as I enjoyed this new episode. That said, I love anything to do with time-travel, and since I obtained the DVD boxset along the way, I really should crack on with it. I was aware of the premise, though, and did watch the final episode, so knew where things would be up to.
This entry in the Landmark Sitcom Season is not a remake (Are You Being Served?), reboot (Porridge) or spin-off (Young Hyacinth), it’s a continuation. 17 years have passed since Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst) was last able to flit between the ’40s and the present day, having been inadvertently thwarted and stuck in the past as he saved the life of Prime Minister-to-be, Clement Attlee, resulting in the time portal closing.
We join him in October 1962. The Cuban missle crisis is threatening the world, and he’s still married to Phoebe (Elizabeth Carling), with son Michael (Tim Preston). As before, he has the advantage of future knowledge on his side, whilst continuing to pass off current songs as his own work. That said, since he took the name of Gary Sparrow back in time, how come that doesn’t cause complications for his later self? Or maybe it does in the series I haven’t seen previously.
Lamenting the fact that he can’t get back to the future, there’s a situation which brings him up-to-date in 2016, leading to many ‘fish out of water’ situations, such as trying to get to grips with smartphones in a Phone shop, as Gary’s looking to find Ron (Victor McGuire):
- Salesman: “Have you Googled him?”
Gary (shocked): “No, we’re just good friends!”
Like I said, it’s ‘gentle comedy’, but with the mannerisms of Lyndhurst, watch this in the right frame of mind and it’s very entertaining. As with Are You Being Served?, there’s canned laughter but it’s an intentionally old fashioned sitcom.
And as we saw at the end of series six, Yvonne (Emma Amos) now knows of his duplicitous behaviour and, understandably, is not best pleased with him (BTW, you know from the start that she’s going to be in it, as per the opening credits – and what would be the point of bringing this back if it didn’t have him finding a way to get back between timezones).
Oh, and Gary also needs to attend the birth of a very important baby…
By the end, will he remain in 2016, or head back to 1962? Will they make more of them? I guess it depends what the ratings are like, but I know I would certainly welcome a full series.
Goodnight Sweetheart airs tonight on BBC1 at 9pm, but is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. After broadcast, if you missed it, you can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer, up until October 2nd, and click on the top image in this review for the full-size version.
In the meantime, you can buy The Complete Series 1-6 on DVD.
Director: Martin Dennis
Producer: Humphrey Barclay
Creators/Writers: Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
Gary: Nicholas Lyndhurst
Ron: Victor McGuire
Reg: Christopher Ettridge
Phoebe: Elizabeth Carling
Yvonne: Emma Amos
Michael: Tim Preston
George: Liam Jeavons
Midwife: Angela Murray
Phone salesman: Khali Best
Bouncer: Ted Robbins
Ellie: Esme Coy
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.