It was The Apprentice, task one that got me thinking about this forgotten gem.
On The Buses had been a huge success for both ITV and Reg Varney, so when he left the series mid way through the final series in 1973 the world was his oyster.
In 1975, Varney created a sitcom set in London’s iconic Billingsgate fish market. It was his first sitcom since On The Buses and ran for two series between 1975 and 1976, a total of 12 episodes.
Produced by ATV for ITV it was felt that with Reg Varney on board it was sure to be a winner and it was given what in the day was the prime slot – 8pm Wednesday nights, a slot usually reserved for heavyweights such as Tommy Cooper and Benny Hill.
However the show did not live up to expectations and was dropped in 1976. Varney would never do another sitcom.
The story revolves around fish porter Reg Furnell, following his misadventures at the Billingsgate Fish Market (Down the ’Gate ) and beyond.
Reg Varney – Reg Furnell
Dilys Laye – Irene Furnell
Reg Lye – Old Wol
Tony Melody – Len Peacock
Percy Herbert – Mr Preston
Bill Treacher – Unknown
Created By: Reg Varney
Written By: Maurice Sellar, Roy Tuvey and Reg Varney
Produced By: ATV for ITV
Original Transmission Dates: 23rd July 1975 – 29th August 1976
For whatever reason, there are those who believe the series was deliberately junked, the series no longer exists in it’s broadcast form. However Reg Varney recorded a number of episodes on a home video recorder, it is believed that these 6 episodes are the only ones still in existence.