1 9 9 1 – 1 9 9 9 (UK)
56 x 40 minute episodes
When Andrew Marshall’s 2 Point 4 Children first hit British screens it was compared to Roseanne (1988), primarily because of Gary Olsen’s burly build as lumberjack-shirted Ben Porter.
Like Roseanne, it survived the recasting of the eldest daughter and had occasional lapses into surrealism. But there the similarities ended.
The ongoing story concerned a flirtation between hardworking middle-aged pastry cook and mum, Bill Porter (Belinda Lang) and a mysterious leather-jacketed motorcycle courier she kept meeting unexpectedly.
This character was killed off early in the second series, only to return briefly as a ghost in a surprising cliff-hanger storyline which saw Bill’s son David teetering on the brink of death from a tetanus infection.
Bill’s family comprised hypersensitive vegetarian daughter, Jenny (Clare Woodgate and then Clare Buckfield), ghoulish son David (John Pickard), and husband Ben, a plumber who was an overgrown kid himself. Bill also had to contend with their sex-mad neighbour, Rona (Julia Hills).
Long-running story arcs included Bill and Rona being made redundant by the bakery where they worked and subsequently starting their own confectionary business; Rona’s attempts to become a mother; and Ben’s ongoing feud with a rival plumber, the Star Trek-obsessed Jake Klinger, played by Roger Lloyd-Pack, one of several sitcom veterans – including Liz Smith and Barbara Lott – to be given a recurring role.
Clare Woodgate left after season two to concentrate on dramatic roles. She changed her name to Georgina Cates and moved to Hollywood where she married Skeet Ulrich, best known for his role as the killer in Scream (1996). They had two children but divorced in 2005.
She was replaced in the role of Jenny by Clare Buckfield.
At its peak, 2 Point 4 Children was pulling in more than 12 million viewers.
The final episode was shot in 1999 as Gary Olsen, who was 42 at the time, became unwell.
He was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently decided to emigrate to Australia with his family.
He fought the disease for ten months but ultimately lost his battle and died on 12 September 2000.
Clare Woodgate (1)
Clare Buckfield (2)