Home Television Comedy Rising Damp

Rising Damp

1 9 7 4 – 1 9 7 8 (UK)
28 x 30 minute episodes

This classic 28 episode comedy series from Yorkshire Television told the story of a group of people living in a shabby tenement boarding house. Snide landlord Rupert Rigsby constantly spied on the (usually very innocent) private lives of an assortment of long-suffering tenants.


Rigsby’s obnoxious manner was perfectly offset by his two male tenants, hopeless medical student Alan and Philip, the black son of an African tribal chief.

The two both aided and hindered his attempts to woo his third tenant, the middle-aged and slightly dotty spinster Miss Jones.

Sharing his inmost fears and suspicions with his cat Vienna, Rigsby skulked about the ill-kempt house, bursting in on tenants when he thought (almost always mistakenly) that he would catch them in flagrante.

Other lodgers later in the series were Brenda (Gay Rose) and Spooner (Derek Newark).

The series was originally screened on ITV between 1974 and 1978 and has continued to be revived on British television at regular intervals ever since, always attracting large audiences.


The success of the series led to a film version in 1980, but this met with mixed response, lacking the conciseness and sharpness of the television series and also lacking the presence of Beckinsale, who had tragically died of a heart attack at the age of 31 the previous year.

Rossiter himself (a former insurance claims inspector) quickly rose to fame with his trademark sleeveless cardigan and his often-imitated “My-y-y-y God!”, and went on to star in the equally popular series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin before his own premature death from heart failure in 1984, in his dressing room during a stage performance of Loot.

Rising Damp was derived from a one-off stage play called Banana Box, in which Rossiter had played ostensibly the same role (though under the name Rooksby). Only Richard Beckinsale had not appeared in the original stage play.

Labour MP Tom Pendry took offence to an episode where Rigsby made disparaging remarks about a fictional election candidate called Pendry (pictured), calling him homosexual, hypocritical and dishonest. Yorkshire Television were obliged to pay damages for the – albeit unintentional – defamation.


Rupert Rigsby  
Leonard Rossiter
Alan Moore  

Richard Beckinsale
Philip Smith  

Don Warrington
Miss Ruth Jones  

Frances de la Tour

Derek Newark

Gay Rose


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