Wrinkles: A Second, much bigger, Listen

“You will not believe… honestly, you will not believe what’s been going on here at the old folk’s home… Unbelievable!”

Surely you all must know the drill by now: Rob and Doug wrote a radio sit-com in 1980 and 1981, it starred stand-up comic Tom Mennard and was created and produced by Mike Craig. G&T have been searching out as many episode as possible ever since.

So, after last September’s two episode discovery, comes a rather more significant haul. Graham Lidbury – Lidders to his mates, like – has sent us a whopping seven (well, eight in all truth, but we already had one of them) new episodes. So, without further waffling, here they be complete with a brief synopsis of each:

  • S1E? – The Camel: An overworked Tom takes the ill-advised step of looking for help in Mr P. Hilarity (and a camel) ensues.
  • S1E? – Mr. Morton: After a series of cock-ups, Matron brings in someone to supervise Tom’s work at the old folk’s home.
  • S1E? – Matron’s Nephew: It’s Tom’s day off but an impromptu visit from Matron’s nephew means Tom has his hands full. Meanwhile, Arnold’s paranoia is running rampant and Winston’s dog feels hungry…
  • S2E2 – In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning: Tom’s on night shifts and, joined by an insomniac Winston, he performs his rounds through the home while we hear what everyone is dreaming about.
  • S2E3 – The Dog Who Laughed: A pissed up Tom buys himself a new greyhound from a man in a pub. Tom is convinced it will bring him his fortune in race victories, which the dog evidentially finds hilarious.
  • S2E4 – Night And Day: Winston’s sleeping patterns continue to be erratic as his internal body clock finds itself 12 hours behind everyone else’s.
  • S2E5 – Swept Away: Tom recalls the day when shouting ex-lighthouse keeper Lewis joined the home. While Lewis is settling down, Arnold is enjoying his new coffin, until the devastating combination of Mr P and Winston send things awry.

First, it’s worth noting that the labelling of these episode is a bit hit and miss. Graham had kindly labelled the MP3s with his own titles, three of which remain for the three series 1 episodes ‘The Camel’, ‘Mr. Morton’ and ‘Matron’s Nephew’. Series 2 was a little clearer, however, as the episode titles are out there so it was fairly easy to identify which episode belonged to which title. Having said that, I’m still not entirely sure that ‘In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning’ and ‘Night and Day’ shouldn’t be the other way round, but never mind. Also, here’s a fun fact about the series straight from the information coffers of a certain Mr. Andrew Ellard: all the way through the writing and for most of the recording of Series 1 the show was actually called There’s No Place Like a Home (which, incidentally, remained the name of the first episode – apparently the only episode in the series with an official title) which I think is a bloody brilliant title! It’s much better than Wrinkles, anyway, which always seems to sound oddly dodgy to me, not to mention a bitch to research when you’re having to wade through a seas of articles about face cream.

Anyway, after listening to all seven new episodes in a row, the whole set-up started to give me warmer and warmer feelings as I grew more and more familiar with it all. It’s such a nicely put together situation and the cast are really, really superb. When you start to warm to the formula (such as Mr P’s catchphrases, Winston always misunderstanding things in a terribly endearing way, Arnold walking around depressing the shit out of anyone he can and Tom’s quite subversive drunk and irresponsible character) and it’s making you laugh every time it wants to… well, you know you’re listening to a great show.

Series 2 seems to be funniest of the two as Rob and Doug are obviously having more fun and end up writing by far the best episode of the lot (‘In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning’) as a result of this extra confidence and experimentation. Also worth a mention is the scene in ‘Swept Away’ when Winston’s standard misunderstanding of a situation probably reaps some of the funniest lines in the entire series.

I’ll not say any more and let you judge this batch for yourself, but I think it’s safe to say that Wrinkles has been well worth the wait. Thank you to Graham for this latest batch and everyone else who’s provided me with recordings over the last couple of years to build up this hugely interesting and entertaining archive of some of Rob and Doug’s earliest of early work.

Superlative.

Incidentally, if anyone could provide any information as to where Graham could get hold of a recording of Black Cinderella Two Goes East, then that would be ace.

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19 Responses to Wrinkles: A Second, much bigger, Listen

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  1. Jonathan Capps, Graham Lidbury, Miles Jackson,
    and anyone else involved I salute you.

    I would have missed out on Grant/naylor comedy nuggets like these
    without your help and focus.

    That luvvie Ross is Superlative and that guy out of fawlty towers
    is the dogs ballards.

  2. G&T Admin

    Ta, Jonsmad!

    The fact that “I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about them, frankly” is now winning in the poll is somewhat depressing, though. Along with the fact that we’ve only had one comment on them. Is this how far the Dwarf fan community has fallen? Like them, hate them, whatever – I don’t care – but they’re at least interesting, and worthy of discussion…

  3. G&T Admin

    i dunt care about a boring radio show, wens the movie out? hey, any1 else think craig charles is hot lol

  4. > hey, any1 else think craig charles is hot lol

    Hav u sin den pics of im wen ee is preggie? That is well hot biatch.

  5. In all honesty, Capps, you deserve some serious credit for this. Without your specific efforts, these could end up lost completely to the ages. Whether you like them or not they’re a fascinating part of Grant Naylor history, and you deserve commendation for almost single-handedly digging them out of obscurity.

  6. G&T Admin

    Cheers Phil, but all I did was make a bit of a noise about it and just sat back and waited for people to email me to say they had copies. People like have just been very generous about it and enthusiastic to get their old off-airs out there and to people who should be enjoying them.

    It’s a genuinely fantastic show and I’m really disheartened by the reaction it’s been getting i.e. absolutely fuck all save for the odd person here and there (and God bless you, basically). Then again, this is a world where the fact that Rob Grant and Doug Naylor are getting together to record commentaries wasn’t even remotely discussed on the offical fanclub forum.

  7. Well, I can download these and possibly (because I’m lazy and I have a lot of Doctor Who to watch) write something up by way of a review, for what it’s worth.

  8. The ballard berkley bit where he says he cant get the hang
    of dog choke chains, is conjuring up great comedic
    images in my mind, whenever I hear it.

    And although the repetative mr p, bugging tom persistently bits
    should probably become AS annoying to listen to AS he is annoying in character,
    I actually find them quite deliciously grinable, which is a credit to david ross
    performance.

    The “Thought bubble” catchphrase or device I dont like though, I can see
    why no else ever used such a device before or since, a skilled actor can portray
    such an aside with vocal tones, volume and distance from the mike in an
    audio only situation. Unless grant/naylor were trying to make the show be
    perceived as cartoonlike. i still dont think it works.

    Some of Gordons bits as Arnold are quite holly like lines and you can see
    why he got a part playing a similar computer in better than life.

  9. I’ve FINALLY got round to having a bit of a listen to these (no excuse, basically, I just hadn’t bothered before, shame mode). I agree with Andrew that they’re a bit patchy, but when they fire, they really do. Oddly enough, it’s Tom Mennard’s character that I’ve found myself liking the least – he’s left to play straight man too often (in what I’ve heard so far), and I also find the housekeeper a little annoying. Plus the Charlie Brown-style musical instrument characters are somewhat disconcerting, and I’m not completely sure it works all the time.

    That said, I find Arnold and Winston highly amusing (even though Winston is, essentially, the Major – you can imagine him having moved out of Fawlty Towers and into the home), and… well… Mr P makes the entire show worthwhile, actually. It’s a superlative performance from David “No-Show” Ross.

    It’s an odd one, because – the odd linguistic quirk aside – it’s not really indicative of the way they’d go with Dwarf. Its warm portrayal of middle-aged/elderly Northern eccentricity puts me more in mind of dinnerladies and Early Doors (and, by association, Alan Bennett) than anything else…

  10. Ha! The “Compute” gag from “Queeg” is in “Mr Morton”!

  11. The link to Mr. Morton only gets a 90kb MP3 file :(

  12. G&T Admin

    Yeah, sorry about that, it’s a hang over from some ill advised file moving on the server and me forgetting to update some links…

  13. Cool. As long as I got the file! :)

  14. That’s Wrinkles ‘As featured in “It’s Cold Outside”: Series II documentary’
    on The Bodysnatcher DVD. Well done for including it GNP.

    I hope more people venture into this trailblazing thread now as a result.

  15. I was surprised how much it was mentioned, considering how much trouble Cappsy had finding out about it…

  16. Cor – only just seen this.

    Does Mr Lidbury still need Black Cinderella Goes East? I have a very good copy of it recorded by myself on its solitary BBC7 repeat (remember when BBC7 were good?).

  17. G&T Admin

    I’ve sent you an email, Darrell!

  18. I think probably one of the funniest things ever is Mr P coming in and being Caesar in Night and Day.

    As much as I love Robert Llewellyn in the role, I really do wonder what David Ross would have done with Kryten. He can play an audience superbly. In the same episode he says “Well” about 10 times in a row, and elicits a laugh every time.

    Wrinkles Series 2 is superb. May the lord have mercy upon Cappsy in his eternal quest.

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