An unusual comedy drama from ITV that ran originally for three series, before coming back for a second bite at the cherry in 1990 on Channel 4.
A very clever and dry comedy, that used convoluted wordplay and subtle commentary on popular culture.
Brass was of it’s time with the way it’s characters were portrayed, two families two different backgrounds. It satarised the working-class period dramas of the 1970s (most significantly When the Boat Comes In) and the American supersoaps such as Dallas and Dynasty.
Unusually for ITV comedies of the time, there was no laughter track. This writer has to admit it was never one my favourite shows, but it’s one you don’t hear about too often and that’s why we are championing it.
The series revolves around two feuding families—the wealthy Hardacres and the poor, working-class Fairchilds, who lived in a small terraced house rented from the Hardacre empire.
The Hardacre family are headed by ruthless self-made businessman Bradley (Timothy West), who espouses Thatcherite rhetoric while coming up with various harebrained schemes to make his businesses more efficient so he could sack workers, his wife is alcoholic aristocrat, Lady Patience (Caroline Blakiston).
The head of the Fairchilds was the stern “Red” Agnes (Barbara Ewing), who spread militant socialist rhetoric around the Hardacre mine, mill and munitions factory, and her doltish, forelock-tugging husband George (Geoffrey Hinsliff—later Don Brennan in Coronation Street), who is dominated by his wife and his boss. In a twist, Agnes was also Bradley Hardacre’s mistress.
The original series ended in 1984, but in 1990 Channel 4 brought it back for one series.
This time the setting was 1939, the Hardacres have moved to London and later move to a country mansion called Yonderley but making frequent trips to Utterley or Swarfside, where the Hardacre business empire was still based.
The Fairchilds had also moved to London as Agnes was now MP for Utterley.
Channel: ITV (1983 – 84), Channel 4 1990
Created By: John Stevenson and Julian Roach
Produced By: Granada Television for ITV
Original Transmission Dates:
21st February 1983 – 20th August 1984
Channel 4 series:
23rd April – 28th May 1990