1 9 9 3 (UK)
4 x 45 minute episodes
Godfrey Spry (Richard Briers) receives brain damage when a barrow load of bricks is dropped on his head from a great height. As a result, his attention span is reduced to 30 seconds, and he believes everything he’s told – which makes him the perfect target for television advertisements.
Taking every commercial literally, Godfrey fills his house with crates of washing-up liquid and toilet paper.
As a finishing touch, he then becomes paraplegic whilst test-driving a brand new Cabriolet fuel injection hatchback along the top of a cliff at sunset to see if it really will go from 0 to 60 in three seconds.
Along the way, he takes his wife on holiday to Hamburg, where she is stoned to death by football hooligans to no apparent dramatic purpose whatsoever except that it neatly landed him as a permanent fixture in the house of his long-lost nephew, Gordon (Ade Edmondson) and his wife Muriel (Imelda Staunton).
The four episodes were funny but perhaps a little too ambitious. We had to deal with the themes of high-pressure advertising, the problems of senility and the difficulties of caring for the elderly. It nearly worked, but every so often, the storyline wasn’t strong enough.
The cast, though, was faultless. Richard Briers was excellent as Godfrey, the disabled pensioner with a permanent gormless grin, and Imelda Staunton and Ade Edmondson were brilliantly uncomfortable as the reluctant couple who look after him.
Classic moments included Godfrey telling his stockbroker neighbours, “I’ve bought a large steak in Sainsbury’s”.
In the final episode, Godfrey set up his own business after seeing government advertisements promoting free enterprise, hiring an elderly lady he met in the hospital to knit tea cosies in the shed.
When she died of a heart attack, Godfrey attempted to perform a post-mortem (which he believed he could do after purchasing a partwork of Complete Medical Knowledge). As a result, he was arrested for murder, convicted and sent to a hospital for the criminally insane.
Languishing in his cell as the series ended, Godfrey was happy under the illusion that he was the centre of attention at a dinner party, where fancy chocolates were being served.