1 9 6 9 (UK)
1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 4 (UK)
1 9 8 6 (UK)
37 x 30 minute episodes
This gentle comedy began life as a single episode pilot (starring Marjorie Rhodes and Edward Chapman) in November 1969 and – with a new cast – proved popular over 17 years.
In Loving Memory concerned the comings and goings (mostly the goings) of an undertaker’s business in a Lancashire mill town in the 1920s.
As a comedy series it must be unique. It killed off its star in the first week. The mainstay of the burial business, Jeremiah Unsworth (played by Freddie Jones) died in the opening episode.
The series then focussed on his late wife Ivy (the great Thora Hird, full of the milk stout of human kindness) and their gormless 28-year old nephew Billy (Christopher Beeny) who carried on the 50-year old funeral business – which, being accident-prone, was a monumental task.
After experiencing girlfriend trouble throughout the series, Billy finally married at the start of the final series – although in true sitcom style Ivy insisted on going along on the honeymoon.
The series was set in the fictitious Lancashire town of Oldshaw (location shooting actually took place in Luddenden, Yorkshire).
Writer Dick Sharples got the idea for his creation in a pub, upon hearing an undertaker’s tale about a hearse that, after hitting a pothole, shed its coffin on the street. Similar problems beset Ivy and Billy in most episodes.