1 9 8 1 – 1 9 8 4 (UK)
26 x 25 minute episodes
Laura Dalton (Judi Dench) is a translator by profession: brainy, content to accept that she’s single, entering middle-age with dignity and her own agenda.
Reluctantly – because she knows that her younger sister Helen (Susan Penhaligon) and her husband Phil (Richard Warwick) are incurable matchmakers – she goes to one of their parties and there, sure enough, is force-introduced to bachelor Mike Selway (Michael Williams), also in his forties, a landscape gardener who drives around in a van.
Laura thinks Mike is short, shy, nervous and boring but the pair agree to feign interest in one another in order to fool Helen and Phil and escape the party as soon as possible.
As the first series develops so the couple are drawn to one another, as much through boredom as anything else, but soon they begin a real relationship that starts off strange, becomes estranged (at the end of the third series) and then clicks again, finally, with wedding bells in the air, at the last minute.
A Fine Romance was a fine sitcom, made so by its two stars, real-life husband and wife Michael Williams and Judi Dench. This was Dench’s first TV comedy series, her stage and film CV already so impressive that soon it would garner her a damehood.
The international television executive Don Taffner attempted to sell the format of A Fine Romance to American TV, partially succeeding in that CBS aired a one-off pilot there on 20 July 1983 with the same title as the British version.
Laura was now Laura Prescott and was played by Julie Kavner (best known as Brenda Morgenstern, sister of Rhoda and the voice of Marge in The Simpsons), Mike Selway was played by Leo Burmester, Helen and Phil by Kristin Meadows and Kevin Conroy. No series developed.