1 9 8 1 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
The Incredible Mister Tanner first appeared as an episode of The Ronnie Barker Playhouse, written by Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke, with Barker playing Cyril Tanner, a useless escapologist with unrealistic aspirations to be the new Harry Houdini. Also in the cast were Richard O’Sullivan (as Cyril’s younger brother, Arthur ) and Doris Hare.
The concept was eventually developed into two series. The first, Kindly Leave The Kerb, was produced in 1971 with Peter Butterworth in the role of Cyril (now renamed Ernest) with Peter Jones as his sidekick Sidney Rochester.
The idea returned a decade later as The Incredible Mister Tanner with Thames Television teaming George & Mildred star Brian Murphy with his occasional co-star Roy Kinnear as his manager and partner in crime.
Ernest thinks he is the greatest escapologist, but Sidney isn’t convinced: “Houdini got out of a straitjacket. You couldn’t get out of a sports jacket!”
The scripts were updated, but the death of 53-year-old Yootha Joyce just six months earlier meant that public affection for the Ropers was so strong that viewers were not yet ready to accept Murphy in another role.
The Great Escape | The Good Samaritan | The Magic Lantern | The Better Half | The Wallet | The House Hunters