1 9 6 0 – 1 9 6 8 (USA)
249 x 30 minute episodes
This sitcom – spun-off from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show in which Thomas was arrested in a small North Carolina town – focused on Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andrew Jackson Taylor in the small town of Mayberry.
Taylor was a widower with a young son, Opie (played by a young Ron Howard, later of Happy Days fame and a renowned movie director) and the pair of them lived with Andy’s Aunt Bee (Francis Bavier), who was famous for her pies.
Crime in Mayberry was of the distinctly petty variety and much of the comedy centred around Andy, his family life and working life, especially with his somewhat stupid deputy (and cousin) Barney Fife (Don Knotts).
Andy wouldn’t allow Barney to load his weapon for fear he would shoot his own feet off! He also only allowed him to carry a solitary bullet (usually in his left shirt pocket).
Throughout the show’s run, Andy had two love interests – the first was druggist Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue), and later schoolteacher Helen Crump (Anita Corsaut), who Andy ended up marrying in 1968.
When Andy Griffith decided to call it quits, the show was still popular and the network decided to carry it on under the new name of Mayberry RFD with Ken Berry in the lead as councilman Sam Jones.
Griffith helped with the change over by appearing in the first episode (it was in this episode that he married Helen and the pair then moved away from the town).
The opening scene of The Andy Griffith Show – with Andy and Opie walking to their favourite fishing hole – is one of the most familiar in television history. Perhaps even more memorable is Earle Hagen’s whistled Andy Griffith Theme, which accompanies Andy and Opie’s stroll. The theme also has seldom-heard lyrics, written by actor Everett Sloane, who played moonshiner Jubal Foster in the “Keeper of the Flame” episode.
There were two spin-offs from the series – the 1964 sitcom Gomer Pyle USMC which concerned Gomer (Jim Nabors), the Mayberry gas station attendant, joining the Marines, and also The Don Knotts Show (a variety series) in 1965.
The show was eventually canned when CBS, concerned about its audience demographics (which were skewed to the rural Midwest and west of the USA) cancelled all shows “with trees”.
A New Andy Griffith Show – in which Griffith played the mayor of a small southern town – lasted a single season in 1971, and in April 1986 the whole cast reunited for a TV movie called Return to Mayberry. It was the highest-rated film on American television for the 1985-86 season.
In re-runs, The Andy Griffith Show is sometimes aired as Andy of Mayberry.
The Andy Griffith Show was shot in three locations. The interior scenes were shot at Desilu Studios (the jail, Andy’s house etc).
The exterior scenes of Mayberry were shot at a lot in Culver City (where the main street was constructed). And the bucolic shots (the opening scene etc) were filmed at Franklin Canyon, a Los Angeles reservoir.
Sheriff Andy Taylor
Deputy Barney Fife
Aunt Bee Taylor
Ernest T Bass