“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.
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.