Home Television Comedy Ever Decreasing Circles

Ever Decreasing Circles

1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 7 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 8 9 (UK)
1 x 80 minute Christmas special

Martin Bryce (Richard Briers) works for Mole Valley Valves and has done so for years.

A former REME regiment member and driver of a light blue dormobile, he likes things done properly.

He is also an anally retentive, interfering know-all and ceaseless, do-gooding, tradition-loving organiser who tries the patience of all his neighbours and acquaintances.

Tenacious in his never-say-die attitudes, a compulsive arranger of committees and relentless volunteer and supporter of every cause going, Martin undoubtedly means well, but is the type of insufferable bore who has four different kinds of spade in his garage and who changes the water in his car battery every three days.

His wife, Ann (Penelope Wilton) despairs of him and yet stands by him stoically – even though their new next-door neighbour Paul Ryman (Peter Egan) – the suave proprietor of a beauty salon – probably has so much more to offer her . . . and offers it frequently.

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In time-honoured but inexplicable sitcom fashion, Ann suffers without ever throttling Martin, emigrating or trying to have him committed.

Paul is a handsome and super-smooth bachelor who, just by doing nothing, makes Martin look and feel inferior.

They all live in a cosy suburban close (called ‘The Close’) in Horsham, a little patch of greenery tucked away in a quiet corner of England, with Martin’s well-meaning but childlike friends Howard (Stanley Lebor) and his wife Hilda (Geraldine Newman) – who usually wear identical clothes – taking part in most of his endeavours.

It was obvious to all that a truer scenario would have pitched Paul and Ann as husband and wife, trying to put up with their obsessive neighbour Martin. But, despite an obvious closeness, Paul and Ann’s friendship never ripened in this way, and while she should have run off with him and been done with Bryce forever, she remained the faithful wife.

Ever Decreasing Circles reunited actor Richard Briers with the writers of his huge hit The Good Life.

Pitiful the lead character may have been, but viewing audiences somehow identified with him, and the series proved very popular.

Martin Bryce
Richard Briers 
Ann Bryce

Penelope Wilton
Paul Ryman

Peter Egan 
Howard

Stanley Lebor 
Hilda

Geraldine Newman