1 9 8 3 – 1 9 8 5 (UK)
23 x 30 minute episodes
Up The Elephant And Round The Castle starred cheeky-cockney-chappie Jim Davidson as cheeky-cockney-chappie Jim London.
Jim is jobless, and he doesn’t have much luck with the ladies, either. But he gets his first real break when his Auntie Min bequeaths him her house in South London’s dilapidated Elephant and Castle.
17 Railway Terrace might be small, but bachelor Jim’s thrilled to have his own place at last. Sadly, he also inherits Mr Wilkins – a cantankerous, unseen but oft-heard lodger.
Jim also inherits some dodgy neighbours – among them a borough councillor, Bertram Allnut (succeeded, even more unbelievably, in the second and third series by yet another councillor, Arnold Moggs), Vera Spiggott, an unsexy young woman still living at home who fancies Jim like mad, and Wanda Pickles, a larger than life ‘sex-pot’ whose husband Stan is in maximum-security jail at Parkhurst.
Pickles is always barging in with a cheery greeting and pursuing a quickie on the sofa, but London is disparaging and denying of his loins.
Jim is also saddled with a few dodgy mates, the attentions of the DHSS and visits from his Dad, sheltering from the verbal battering he receives from his ‘missus’.
Aimed squarely at his devoted fan (Davidson actually read The Sun on camera), Up The Elephant And Round The Castle – hardly a contender for the sitcom hall of fame – was a curious mixture of sitcom and music-hall-style stand-up swagger.
In what was patently a studio set, some episodes opened with Davidson emerging from his front door in a shortie dressing-gown, socks and shoes, stretching, announcing ‘morning, world’ and making a straight-to-camera pronouncement, introducing the latest laddish episode in his life by way of a flashback.
Seen along the way, in early TV roles, were Anita Dobson (later to star in EastEnders), Christopher Ellison, Linda Robson (Birds Of A Feather) and Marina Sirtis who went on to play Counselor Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
A sequel, Home James (1987-90) followed Jim London’s career as chauffeur to the millionaire owner of an electronics factory (played by George Sewell). The sequel also starred Chris Ellison who later went on to play Frank Burnside in UK Cop drama The Bill, and later his own series Burnside.
Councillor Bertram Allnut
Councilor Arnold Moggs
Terence ‘Tosh’ Carey
Brian the barman