Home Television Comedy Jeeves and Wooster

Jeeves and Wooster

1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 3 (UK)
23 x 55 minute episodes

Writer Clive Exton and producer Brian Eastman were already collaborating on Poirot when they turned their attention in 1990 to P.G. Wodehouse.

The BBC had previously adapted the Jeeves stories for The World of Wooster (1965), but Jeeves and Wooster took a more sumptuous approach to the 1930s detail. The series was shot on film at various immaculately decked-out stately locations.

Exton dramatised all 23 episodes by combining several short stories or extracting sections of full-length novels. His adaptations come surprisingly close to capturing the flavour of the originals – and, as one critic pointed out at the time, a production that regularly managed to slip words like “opprobrious” into a peak-time ITV slot is something to cherish.

Impeccably acted by Hugh Laurie (as the dim but lovable Bertie Wooster) and Stephen Fry (as his peerless, imperturbable manservant, Jeeves) – possibly television’s best literary casting of all time – the shows were a masterclass in adaptation, capturing the essence of what makes Wodehouse so charming, enjoyable and uproariously funny.

The well-chosen supporting cast brought Wodehouse’s often sketchy characters to vivid life – Bertie’s fearsome aunts Agatha (Mary Wimbush, then Elizabeth Spriggs) and Dahlia (Brenda Bruce, later Vivien Pickles) and other menacing females such as drippy Madeline Bassett (Francesca Folan) and prankster Stiffy Byng (Charlotte Attenborough), as well as Bertie’s chums Bingo Little (Michael Siberry), Tuppy Glossop (Robert Daws), Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (Adam Blackwood, later Martin Clunes) and effete newt-fancier Gussie Fink-Nottle (Richard Garnett, then Richard Braine).

Arguably the most successful performance was John Turner’s fleshing-out of would-be fascist dictator Roderick Spode, little more than a vaguely thuggish presence in the books but much more satirically rounded here.

Bertie Wooster
Hugh Laurie
Reginald Jeeves
Stephen Fry
Tuppy Glossop
Robert Daws
Bingo Little
Michael Siberry (1)
Pip Torrens (2)
Stiffy Byng
Charlotte Attenborough
Oofy Prosser
Richard Dixon
Cyril “Barmy” Fotheringay-Phipps
Adam Blackwood (1)
Martin Clunes (2)
Aunt Agatha
Mary Wimbush (1)
Elizabeth Spriggs (2)
Aunt Dahlia
Brenda Bruce (1)
Vivien Pickles (2)
Sir Watkyn Bassett
John Woodnutt
Madeline Bassett
Francesca Folan (1)
Diana Blackburn (2)
Elizabeth Morton (3)
Reverend Stinker Pinker
Simon Treves
Gussie Fink-Nottle
Richard Garnett (1)
Richard Braine (2)
Roderick Spode
John Turner