1 9 8 9 – 1 9 9 9 (UK)
2 0 0 8, 2 0 1 0 – 2 0 1 1, 2 0 1 4 (UK)
48 x 30 minute episodes
2 x 40 minute episodes
1 x 45 minute episode
1 x 50 minute episode
Gregor Fisher starred as the titular dirty, skiving, foul-mouthed, sexist drunkard in this Scottish comedy that began life as a short sketch on TV show Naked Video.
The comedy explores Rab’s family life and his philosophical views on modern Scotland. Liberated from the strictures of the short sketches in Naked Video, the show could treat viewers to a wider view of Rab’s family and friends – his wife Mary (“weak in a strong sort of way”) played by Elaine C Smith, teenage sons Gash (Andrew Fairlie) and Burney (Eric Cullen), devious drinking buddy Jamesie (Tony Roper), and Jamesie’s wife, the baby-craving Ella (Barbara Rafferty).
When not on a binge, Rab could be found pursuing nefarious deeds, pursuing other women or spending time in the local police cells for drink-related misdemeanours – and, one time, an accusation of murder.
The string-vested philosopher remained an incorrigible slob throughout, neither learning from his mistakes nor acknowledging that he had made any.
His speech – slurry and littered with slang – and strong Glasgow accent never made allowances for the fact that it was impenetrable to most viewers, but those who missed out on the dialogue were still able to comprehend that this was an oddball character.
Besides, just the sound of Nesbitt cursing was funny enough. Many famous names guest-starred in the show, including Scots comedians Stanley Baxter and Rikki Fulton, aggressive comedy magician Jerry Sadowitz and Anita Dobson.
In the sixth series Rab’s drink-sodden lifestyle was given a severe jolt when he was diagnosed with cancer and battled for his life.
A two-parter in which, while hospitalised, he mused on his own mortality, was a high point of the 41 episodes made thus far, managing to pull off the difficult trick of combining humour with this gravest of subjects.
But Rab rallied and the seventh season found him and Mary facing an empty nest, when Gash finally moved out to live with his girlfriend Bridie (Nicola Park).
Worse problems were to come, for at the end of this series Mary ran off with Jamesie and Rab looked to have perished when his house burned down.
The beginning of the eighth series revealed that Rab had been incarcerated, not incinerated, and after leaving jail worked as a dishwasher and was attempting to reconcile with Mary and Jamesie.
Rab C Nesbitt
Elaine C Smith