1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
16 x 30 minute episodes
Comedy series from London Weekend Television starring Ronnie Barker as the lecherous and decrepit peer Lord Rustless, pontificating on affairs of a worldly and local nature from the stately pile of Chrome Hall.
Rustless was a rumbustious, cigar-smoking aristocrat with bushy white eyebrows and a moustache, and sex prominently on the brain. A man who grew mustard and cress for a living.
The character was first seen in Ah – There You Are!, the second edition of Rediffusion series The Ronnie Barker Playhouse, screened on 10 April 1968, conceived by the playwright Alun Owen. But Barker’s interpretation of Rustless was based on a similarly larger-than-life character he had played, under various names, in repertory in his pre-TV years.
Barker played an extraordinary number of acting roles in the two series’; he had several parts (as many as eight, in fact) in each episode, and multitasking was required of the other actors too. David Jason was not only the heavily bearded, doddering gardener Dithers, but had other parts to contend with too.
The series also starred Josephine Tewson (as Miss Bates, the secretary), Frank Gatliff (as Badger the butler), Moira Foot (the voluptuous maid Effie) and Mary Baxter as Cook.
Ronnie Corbett appeared in one episode in three different roles, Michael Palin made one appearance and there were occasional parts for David Jason’s real-life brother, Arthur White.
Writers included Bill Oddie, Peter Caulfield (a pseudonym for Alan Ayckbourn, who was employed as a BBC radio drama producer at the time and was not supposed to work elsewhere), Bernard McKenna, John Brendan, Chris Miller and Barker himself (writing under the pseudonym Gerald Wiley).
The series earned Ronnie barker the Variety Club’s ITV Personality Of The Year award for 1969, and led to a sequel, His Lordship Entertains, which ran on the BBC in 1972.
Miss Mildred Bates