1 9 7 9 (UK)
5 x 30 minute episodes
A well-written comedy that was eclipsed by the tragic death of young star Richard Beckinsale during its production. Beckinsale played Stan Partridge – an actor more often out of work than in – who decides to make ends meet by taking a part-time job in a local florist.
Writer James Saunders was a well-known playwright and brought a more thoughtful style than was normal to the genre, in this, his first sitcom. It also featured some adult themes (such as sexual liaisons), hence its BBC2 9.30 pm timeslot.
Sadly the show’s potential was never to be fully realised. Beckinsale died suddenly of a heart attack on 19 March 1979, on a day scheduled for a rehearsal of the final episode.
The public was deeply grieved by the news – it was sudden (Beckinsale had no knowledge of a heart condition), he was far too young (just 31) and he was much loved for his roles in The Lovers, Rising Damp and Porridge where he had played vulnerable characters with an underlying decency, warmth and genuineness that Beckinsale himself clearly possessed.
Belated but merited tribute was paid in The Unforgettable Richard Beckinsale, a 45-minute programme screened by ITV on 15 March 2000.