1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 1 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
1 x 45 minute episode
1 x short special
This fine, gentle comedy sported all the ingredients for a success: scripts from Powell and Driver and starring roles for Wilfred Pickles (having a go at a TV sitcom for the first time in 12 years) and that wonderful free-spirit Irene Handl.
Rarely has ITV produced such a warm and enjoyable sitcom, and it ranks as one of the channel’s very best. For The Love Of Ada also proved that love – like youth – was wasted on the young.
Ada Cresswell (Handl), a cockney pensioner widow of several years – and prone to speaking in malapropisms – begins having an affair with the grave-digger (also a widower) who buried her husband, Walter Bingley (Pickles), a stout Yorkshireman living at Cemetery Lodge.
Ada lives with her 30-something daughter Ruth, and her husband Leslie, and so this younger generation are on hand to witness the old ‘uns’ relationship develop.
It doesn’t progress without the odd bump but the couple are engaged (at the end of the first series) and then married (at the end of the second).
Three-and-a-half million viewers in London alone watched as Ada and Walter tied the knot.
In the fourth and final series they become grandparents when Ruth gives birth to baby, Anthony.
Leslie, a Manchester United supporter (as was the actor who played him, Jack Smethurst) wanted to name the child Nobby, after Nobby Stiles, but Ruth refused.
The series spawned a less-good feature film in 1972 and then a US TV spin-off, A Touch Of Grace (never screened in Britain), which ran for 22 episodes on ABC from January to June 1973 and starred Shirley Booth as Grace Sherwood, J Patrick O’Malley as grave-digger Herbert Morrison, and Marian Mercer and Warren Berlinger as Myra and Walter Bradley.