1 9 6 3 – 1 9 6 6 (UK)
45 x 30 minute episodes
Debuting on 16 August 1963 and subtitled for its first series “A Quizzical Look At The Early Days Of Married Life”, Marriage Lines (written in its early days as The Marriage Lines) reunited producer Graeme Muir, actor/writer Richard Waring and actor Richard Briers, all of whom had worked together on Brothers In Law.
Waring devised the new show with Briers in mind, and he was well served not only by the young comedy actor but also by co-star Prunella Scales.
As Mr and Mrs Starling – a young couple adjusting to married life in their small Earl’s Court (London) flat – the two leads tackled the scripts with gusto and brought a charming amiability to the series that made it very popular in its day.
George and Kate Starling (Briers and Scales) were newlyweds in Series 1. He was a city clerk, and she had been his secretary.
Their ups and downs – over money, family, domestic chores and so on – formed the basis of much of the comedy, with the rest stemming from George’s yearning to be at the pub with his single colleagues.
Ronald Hines and Christine Finn played their neighbours, Peter and Noah, during the first series.
The newlyweds argued regularly, but their relationship was rarely threatened by these everyday pressures. In the third series, Kate fell pregnant, eventually giving birth to a baby girl, Helen – whom George described as “the cuckoo” because her presence added to his domestic duties and interfered with his already restricted social life.
The fourth series was thought to be the last, and writer Waring tied up the show in an episode titled ‘Goodbye George, Goodbye Kate’, which ended with the couple leaving England to pursue George’s new job in Lagos.
However, a fifth series was then commissioned, and because Prunella Scales was pregnant in real life, it was decided to have Kate expecting again and use this to explain the Starlings’ return to the UK. The second “happy event” occurred in the final episode.
Two series of a radio version were also made, again with Briers and Scales in the lead roles, acting scripts adapted by Waring.
The first 13 episodes ran from 21 May to 13 August 1965; the second series, also 13 episodes, from 19 March to 11 June 1967. Both were broadcast by the BBC Light Programme.
Edward de Souza
The Threshold | Trial Separation | The Bed | The Parting | Four Party Harmony | The Old Flame | Good Neighbours | Party Mood | The Anniversary | The Old Place | The Cuckoo | The Waiting Game | And Baby Makes Three | A Nest Of Starlings | The Ladies Man | The Homecoming | Night Of Nostalgia | What’s In A Name | The Dinner | Serenade In Two Flats | Tropical Magic | Migration Of Starlings | Goodbye George | The New Start | Back To The Beginning | Home Market | Big Business | Alarms And Excursions | First House | And Then There Were Five