1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 8 (UK)
From the outside No. 73 looked like a perfectly ordinary old semi-detached house (it was supposed to be in Maidstone, Kent) – but once inside there were rooms filled with extraordinary activity.
In the first series, made in Southampton, none of the actors had their real names in the credits so as not to spoil the illusion of it being a real house for young viewers. That changed when the £40,000 programme moved to Maidstone in May 1983, for the second series and became the first show produced in the new studios.
All kinds of visitors arrived at No. 73 – you might find a chart-topping band rehearsing in the living room (later, the cellar) or a hovercraft designer building his latest invention in the backyard.
And at the end of each show The Sandwich Quiz would take place in the kitchen.
“It’s the daring, dazzling, death defyingly dull, devastatingly dangerous, delectable, delicatessenable, divinely decadent Sandwich Quiz!”
Four characters shared this crazy ‘open house’: Dozy Harry (Nick Staverson), who had ‘good connections’ with top pop groups, Alec the musical Scotsman who was convinced his next book would be a best-seller, Dawn (Andrea Arnold), who was trendy but headstrong, and Ethel (Sandi Toksvig) – the long-suffering owner of the house – who was fast-talking and fun.
Alec (Patrick Doyle) was originally called ‘Percy’ but became ‘Alec’ in the 1983 series. Viewers were told that Alec was Percy’s “identical cousin” from Scotland.
The part of Alec also allowed Patrick to drop Percy’s English accent and use his own Scottish one. he left the show at the end of ’83.
The next-door neighbours (from No. 75) were Hazel and Martin Edwards. Other regulars included Neil Buchanan and Kim Goody (as themselves), Fred the postman (Tony Aitken) and local con-man Tony Deal (Nick Wilton).
No. 73 also presented episodes of the classic Roger Ramjet cartoon from the 1960s.
Ethel immigrated to Australia during the 1986 summer break and, although the other main characters remained, all of the supporting cast members were steadily replaced by new, younger characters.
In 1988 the show had to move out of the TVS studios (and therefore No. 73) and into a Wild West Theme park. The altered programme – now renamed 7T3 – only lasted three months.
Fred the Postman
Nadia de Lemeny