A Slight Hitch, 1991

Sadly a victim of the reorganisation of the ITV network, A Slight Hitch had everthing going for it: superb cast, established writer and legendary TV comedy producer John-Howard-Davies.  So why did it never make it past the pilot episode?

We tracked down writer Adrienne Conway, who was more than happy to tell us the unfortunate story of why.

BCC: After the success of Streets Apart, surely this had to be a winner?

AC:  With the reaction and feedback from the pilot it should have been.

BCC: So what happened, how did it come about?

AC:  With the success of Streets Apart I was lunching out twice a week with producers, all wanting a series from me. (by the following week!)

It was the late, great, John Howard Davis who won.  Over lunch, he paid me the highest compliment by saying that when I came up with an idea – I could pitch it over the phone and if he liked it he would commission it.  I didn’t even have to write a half page outline. (my agent at the time was very impressed).  JHD  – as he was known was very sorry that Streets Apart had not come his way.

BBC:  So had Streets run it’s course?

AC: Not at all, there was to be a third series, but as there had been some problems with series 2 and I was unhappy with the outcome – I welcomed a break.

It took me a while to come up with a new series idea with JHD sending me funny little notes.

I finally came up with the Green Card type scenario.  JHD was keen to have Nigel Havers and I wanted to work with Joanna Kanska.

BCC:  And so what happened next?

AC:  Next came the writing of the pilot. Of course, now an arranged marriage with a Polish girl is laughable, but the premise could still work with other non-Eu countries.

With JHD as producer and director, I felt in safe hands.  The cast worked well together and I left rehearsals feeling happy.

In after thought, looking at the pilot, there were a few things we would have changed had it gone to series, but I am very proud of it.  Nigel loves an audience and did a wonderful warm-up and the audience loved him.

Before the pilot was made I was commissioned and paid for a further 5 episodes.  I had created a desparate couple living in the flat below and knew where I was going with it. It had ‘legs’ as we say.

The recording at Thames riverside studios was a terrific success, everyone loved it.  The Thames crew all said it was the best pilot that JHD had made.   The casting was perfect, so important.  I was very excited.

BCC:  And then…?

AC:   AND then  we… were hit by the new franchise bids and to everyone’s surprise, Thames- such a successful company, lost out to a higher bidder.  All the talent jumped ship.

John told me not to worry, that he had enough money to make my series, but he was committed to a series from a very well known writing team first and Havers would not work with another producer at the helm.  We could not find a replacement for him, and so my series was lost.

I was devastated. I knew I had what should have been a winner.  Over at the BBC, a change of head of light entertainment…and my 3rd series of Streets Apart drifted away.

And a commissioned drama series was turned down by the New Network Center – who thought that the public would not be interested in the music scene!

That’s show biz.

Summary

Simon is a successful city executive who refuses to be tied down to the idea of marriage, even the idea of his girlfriend Susie having a toothbrush at his flat is seen as too much of a commitment.

On returning home from a night out with Susie, he finds a number of messages insisting he rings his Grandmother, whatever time he he returns.  Returning her call Simon is summoned to tea on Sunday.

Simon’s Grandmother is Polish and very rich and has a favour to ask of her Grandson.  When Simon initially declines to help a comprimise is reached.  It’s not long before a reluctant Simon finds himself  married and in hot water.

Clips

This clip is shared with permission of the writer and comes from an old VHS recording

 

 

 

 

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Cast

Helen Christie – Helen
Nigel Havers – Simon
Joanna Kanska – Anna
Nancy Nevinson – Katerina
Sarah-Jane Varley – Susie

Details

Channel: ITV
Written By: Adrienne Conway
Produced By: John Howard Davies
Production Company: Thames Television
Original Transmission Date: 28th March, 1991

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