The River, 1988

When the pop star met the sitcom.  Legendary pop star David Essex starred in this six part BBC sitcom that first aired in 1988.

Sources have often stated the series producer/director Susan Belbin, claimed that The River was never meant to be a sitcom but rather a romantic comedy, focusing on the relationship between Davey and Sarah.  However the final outcome was rather different as the relationship between  Davey and Sarah became more of a strand running through the series.


The River follows the tranquil life of a lovable, Cockney and ex-convict Davey Jackson.

Davey is lock keeper on the canal near the village of Chumley-on-the-Water.  His peaceful life is turned upside down by the arrival of the neurotic, sharp-tongued Sarah MacDonald.

Over the six episodes of the series the love-hate relationship between Davey and Sarah blossoms into a shaky romance, their potential happiness often spoiled by the machinations of Davey’s cunning Aunty Betty and the hapless intervention of Davey’s deputy Tom Pike.  The series comes to an abrupt end when Sarah decides to leave.  She makes her decision partly due to her nervousness about her relationship with Davey and the ploys of Aunty Betty to get rid of her.

At the very end of Episode Six, Sarah’s narrowboat explodes after Tom forgets to replace a faulty gas pipe on it.  Sarah, Much to Davey’s relief Sarah survives and is found floating on a piece of wreckage in the river.  The episode closes with Davey and Sarah floating down the river on the remains of the narrowboat.









Davey Jackson – David Essex
Sarah MacDonald – katy Murphy
Aunty Betty – Vilma Hollingbery
Tom Pike – Shaun Scott


Channel: BBC1
Written By; Michael Aitkens
Produced And Directed By: Susan Belbin
Original Transmission Dates: 20th October – 24th November 1988

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