1 9 9 3 – 1 9 9 9 (UK)
59 x 30 minute episodes
London TV repairman Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst) travelled backwards and forwards in time between World War II and the present day, managing to keep a wife in one time and a girlfriend in the other, all while pretending to be a wartime MI5 agent.
Goodnight Sweetheart derived its humour from the conflict that arose from this double life as Gary flitted between his sarcastic modern wife, Yvonne (Michelle Holmes), and his feisty wartime landlady, Phoebe (Dervla Kirwan).
The series changed in 1997 when the actresses who originally played Gary’s lovers both left the show.
Thereafter the dynamic altered: Yvonne (now played by Emma Amos) became a successful millionaire businesswoman with little time for Gary, and Phoebe (now played by Elizabeth Carling) became mother to Gary’s son, which made Gary’s choice, in the end, rather straightforward.
Two other characters were fixtures in the show from start to finish: Gary’s best friend in the present day, Ron (Victor McGuire), and lovably stupid 1940s policeman Reg Deadman (Christopher Ettridge).
Ron was the only person who knew of Gary’s time travelling escapades. He also printed his wartime money and generally offered sage advice, which Gary usually ignored.
Reg, the butt of most of the jokes in the wartime sections, was played with childlike innocence by Christopher Ettridge and joins characters such as Trigger from Only Fools and Horses (1981) in the pantheon of great British sitcom fools.
Viewed objectively, Gary was a dreadful person, but Birds of a Feather creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran made him as sympathetic as one of their earlier comic monsters, Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman (1987).
A 2016 special moved the action forward to 1962, seventeen years after Gary got stuck in 1945, and gave him the opportunity to be at his own birth.
Michelle Holmes (1)
Emma Amos (2)
Dervla Kirwan (1)
Elizabeth Carling (2)