The Complete Open All Hours - Series 1-4 (DVD)
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Review of "The Complete Open All Hours - Series 1-4 (DVD)"
summer resolution - to read more and stop buying books until I have read what I have
This stated out as an episode in a series called seven of one – all seven programmes were different but all stared Ronnie Barker. Of these seven episodes two were made into full series. Open all hours and Porridge.I have always felt that to call Ronnie Barker a comedian simply does not do him justice. He is an excellent character actor who can play both straight and comedy roles with equal success.
This is the full set of the 4 series of this BBC comedy which also includes the original pilot episode.I bought this set about a year ago as I had rather a lot of vouchers for a certain online store. At the time it cost me £8.00 new – which was a bargin.
Set in a Yorkshire town around a typical (or atypical – depending on your view) corner shop run by Arkwright, a miser with a stammer who has only two loves – money and the local district nurse. Arkwright will stop at nothing to get those who come into his shop spending – even bend the truth or frankly tell lies to get them to spend big.Other than running the shop and chasing the nurse Arkwright is determined to turn his Nephew, Granville, into a skinflint just like him as well as stop him having any fun at all.
This is just the main cast
Arkwright (Ronnie Barker): owns and runs a small, rather dingy, overpriced corner shop where all who entre will be encouraged if not forced to spend. With his man eating till and miserly ways when he gets hold of your money it is unlikely to see the light of day again.Granville (David Jason): Arkwright rather down trodden nephew wants to escape and live a little but escaping from the shop is only slightly harder than escaping from Alcatraz. More kindly than his uncle but still a bit of a dreamer.
Nurse Gladys Emmanuelle (Lynda Barron): The object of Arkwright’s affections is determined to develop his spending muscle, well that is if she is going to marry him, unfortunately it dried up and dropped off years ago.Mrs Blewett (series 1-2 Kathy Staff): One of Arkwright’s regular customers in the first two series fond of a gossip sometimes slightly oblivious to being overcharged by Arkwright. Sometimes, however, if looks could kill Mrs Blewett would be serving life imprisonment.
Mrs Featherstone (Series 3-4 Stephanie Cole): AKA The Black Widow. Became the regular female customer in series 3-4 like Arkwright she does not like spending money and if you were to bump into her keep one eye on her umbrella, OUCH! – too late.Mavis (Maggie Ollerenshaw): a customer that can never make up her mind about anything which even gave her problems when she got married.
This remains one of my all-time favourite British comedy series. It is well written and proves you don’t need to be vulgar or use foul language to make something funny. This series comes down to wit and the comic timing of both Barker and Jason.Ronnie Barker is simply a joy to watch in this (or in anything really). Whilst some of the humour is a little dated and perhaps a tad non-PC it still stands up well. The ‘we serve you’ style of shop is rather old fashioned but fits well with Arkwright’s old world view of things. The use of the corner shop as the main setting works well as it shows that this kind of shop was one of the vital parts of the local community in a small town where the shop keeper knew his regular customers by name.
Arkwright’s way with money does remind me of someone who used to run a greengrocer’s close to where my gran used to live. He would work it all out on bits of paper then always round down prices to the nearest 5p. So if he said it was £3.58 he would say – let’s call it £3.55. What most of his customers didn’t know was that he always stuck 5p onto the price before he said what it was.Ronnie has the stammer he uses in this part down almost to perfection just as the glint in the eye and the rubbing of the hands when he thinks he can sell someone something. As others have said of him unless you knew the parts of Arkwright and Fletcher (from Porridge) were both played by him you could believe they were different actors such is the skill of Barker as a character actor.
Both David Jason and Lynda Baron also have their parts down well and are not just being seen as supporting cast members to Barker nor simply foils to his miserly ways. Jason as the rather down trodden nephew does have some of the best lines in a couple of the episodes and Baron as the long suffering engaged to be engaged fiancée to Arkwright is happy to join in Granville’s occasional joke at Arkwright’s expense. Whilst both Kathy Staff and Stephanie Cole have only minor parts in the series they play the older tough as old boots northern battle axe well.It is obvious that all the main cast are enjoying acting in the series and sometime when they start to laugh you don’t really know whether that reaction was scripted or not.
The best prop has got to be the rather vicious till which is rather outdated even for when the series is set but as soon as the cash draw gets the slightest touch it snaps shut so fast it could have your fingers off. Then we have the door to the shop which has more locks and bolts on it than Fort Knox.Due to the age of the series the colour does appear to be a little washed out but considering the series was made between 1976 and 1985 I think we can forgive them this. I actually think this somewhat washed out look does in some way add to the series. Also there are 9 years between the first and fourth series now this does help explain why the cast do appear to get older during the run. However, with long gaps between each series it did help the series not to become stale.
The series does come with subtitles which I have seen have been distinctly lacking in some DVDs of older series.
Extras:I feel that perhaps it is a little light on extras but the ones included are
The original pilot episode:How it began as part of the series 7 of 1. One major difference is that in the pilot the part of Nurse Gladys is played by Sheila Brennan rather than Lynda Baron. Also during the pilot we see a young boy come into the shop, this part is played by one of Barker’s sons.
Writer profile:An on screen written profile about the series writer, Roy Clarke. Not the easiest thing to read unless you have a large screen TV. This includes some information about what he did before he turned to writing including being in the police and a teacher. Also there is information about some of the TV series he has been involved in which included Open All Hours and Last of the Summer Wine.
Product Information : The Complete Open All Hours - Series 1-4 (DVD)
Manufacturer's product description
Classification: Parental Guidance
Actor(s): Ronnie Barker, David Jason, Lynda Baron
DVD Region: DVD
Listed on Ciao since: 28/01/2017