1 9 9 6 – 1 9 9 7 (UK)
19 x 30 minute episodes
Set at the (fictional) rural railway station of Hatley – and filmed at Arley on the Severn Valley Railway – Oh Doctor Beeching! was another nostalgic ensemble comedy from David Croft, this time penned in collaboration with former railwayman Richard Spendlove.
The time was 1963, with Dr Beeching’s swinging cuts to the British railway network about to come into force. Fearful for their jobs, the station crew did their best to keep things alive.
The staff were headed by new-broom station master Cecil Parkin (Jeffrey Holland).
Other members of the Hatley crew included ticket collector/announcer Jack Skinner (Paul Shane) – whose days of scamming were coming to an end, Skinner’s wife, May (Julia Deakin), who ran the station buffet (and was apparently one of Cecil’s old flames during the war), the Skinner’s teenage daughter Gloria (Lindsay Grimshaw) – possibly the fruit of Cecil’s loins – and ticket clerk Ethel Schumann (Su Pollard).
Ethel’s dim son Wilfred (Paul Aspden) – his US serviceman father long since disappeared – lent a hand here and there, while miserable Harry Lambert (a revival of Stephen Lewis’s Blakey character from On The Buses) manned the signal box, cut the men’s hair and grew vegetables.
Engine driver’s widow Vera Plumtree (Barbara New) lived in one of the cottages behind the station, next door to Ethel and Wilfred.
Regular callers at the station included engine-driver Arnold (Ivor Roberts), his hopeless fireman, Ralph (Perry Benson), and guard, Percy (Terry John).
The series followed a 1995 pilot episode, in which May was played by Sherrie Hewson. Partly re-recorded, it was transmitted again as the first episode of series one a year later.
All Change | Talking Turkey | The Train Now Standing . . . | A Moving Story | The Late Mr Buckly | Horse Play | Past Love | Job Opportunity | Sleeping Around | No Milk For The Minister | Father’s Day | The Gravy Train | The Van | Lucky Strike | Love Is A Very Splendid Thing | A Bowl In The Hand | Action Stations | A Pregnant Pause | Ton Up