1 9 7 4 – 1 9 7 8 (UK)
42 x 30 minute episodes
Terry Scott and June Whitfield began their TV partnership in 1968 in Scott On, but it was this BBC1 series – and the subsequent Terry and June – that branded them as a husband-and-wife team in the minds of millions of viewers, some of whom took the image so far as to believe that they were married in real life.
They weren’t, but such was their rapport that it was sometimes difficult to think of them as otherwise.
Happy Ever After began as an episode of Comedy Playhouse which established the basic premise: Terry and June Fletcher are a middle-aged, middle-class, middle-England couple suddenly alone following the departure of their two grown-up daughters, Debbie and Susan.
But their contemplation of this newfound freedom is short-lived when an aged relative – dotty Aunt Lucy – moves in, bringing along her chatty mynah bird, Gunga-Din. Although their two daughters Debbie and Susan dropped in from time to time, the remaining episodes focused on this ill-fitting trio.
The original mynah bird was dumb, and it was June’s voice that viewers heard. Later they hired a new one which jabbered away as soon as the studio lights went on so that the actors could barely be heard.
At all times, Terry was like a spoiled child – headstrong, foolhardy, incompetent and obsessive. When he hit upon an idea he followed it through to its illogical conclusion regardless of the consequences.
As a result, June had to mother Terry as much as be his wife, keeping her feet on the ground and staying keen, patient and tolerant up to the point where he had to be stopped. Aunt Lucy, for her part, was never much more than a thorn in their sides, particularly Terry’s.
After many farcical exploits, one of the original writers, John Chapman, declared that they had exhausted the idea and that Happy Ever After should end, but the BBC comedy department, loath to lose a hit show, persevered using other people to turn in the scripts.
This led to legal complications over rights and so, eventually, the BBC decided to change the name and setting to avoid further difficulties – Hence Terry and June.
In Terry and June, the couple became the Medford’s, and moved to Purley, south-east of London.
Lena Clemo (pilot)
Pippa Page (series)