1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 5 (UK)
27 x 30 minute episodes
Bert Jones (James Beck from Dad’s Army) and his wife Betty (Jo Rowbottom) are newlyweds. Bert is a feckless and workshy sex maniac and Betty is a Streatham girl who wants more from life. The pair live in Bert’s battered, leaky, ant-ridden caravan on a grotty campsite – which looks more like the local rubbish tip than an ideal beauty spot to park a caravan.
Their nearest neighbours are bluff Cockneys Wally Briggs (Arthur Mullard) and his wife Lily (Queenie Watts).
Wally is a big, lazy oaf but couldn’t be more lovable as the hen-pecked husband of ever-nagging Lily (Queenie Watts), who is often found ‘ear-wigging’ and usually getting the wrong end of the stick.
Needless to say, the neighbours don’t always see eye to eye.
Beginning as a one-off play in 1972, the series had just completed one successful season with another in the can when actor James Beck died.
Recasting was necessary and snooty Jeremy Crichton-Jones (Jonathan Cecil) and his pretty young debutante wife Susan (Gay Soper) were introduced as Wally and Lily’s new neighbours.
Crichton-Jones, sporting a bowler hat, pin-striped suit and rolled umbrella (come rain or shine) was a toffee-nosed twit of the highest order and had done “something in the City” for work before going bankrupt. Susan appeared to have a lot more breeding than brains.
Their impeccable manners and plummy voices were a total contrast to Wally and Lily.
For Jeremy and Susan, their new status quo is the ultimate humiliation so they deal with it in an almost pathological way; complete and utter denial. Jeremy still wears his suit and bowler hat, while Susan swans around Bert Jones’s grungy old caravan in her finest dresses and fur coats.
“Arfer”, looking like he’d been in a fight with a steam-hammer (and lost), played the lethargic, dim-witted Wally with such comic genius that he emerged as the star of the London Weekend television series.
Amidst a sea of washing lines and dustbins, the ever-present challenge for the Briggs’ to keep up with the Crichton-Joneses kept viewers laughing through 27 episodes of Romany Jones.
The characters of Wally and Lily Briggs proved so successful that they were subsequently spun-off into their own series: Yus My Dear.