UK, BBC (Initial Film And Television/BMG Entertainment International), Children's sitcom, Colour, 1997
Starring: James Hurst, Lee Otter, Tom Lowe
All-boy pop group North And South (Hurst, Otter, Lowe and Chapman) starred in this stirring sitcom charting the rise to fame of a school band called, er, North And South.
Hurst played Jimmy Osman (a name dangerously similar to Jimmy Osmond), a green-haired lad who arrives in Brighton having left his previous school after an incident that involved his teacher, a concrete mixer and a lorry-load of Cadbury's Flake. Osman enrols at Peabody School and makes friends with Greg Fuddle, a hapless but genial youngster. He also encounters the local bully, Janis, a diminutive girl with a mean streak, and her gormless sidekick Carly. The girls terrorise Jimmy and Greg, who, as a consequence, have to expend much energy dodging them. Jimmy convinces Greg that they should form a rock band and so become overnight millionaires with fast cars and access to pretty young women. Greg falls in with the plan and the two then try to recruit a pair of beautiful but stuck-up girls from rival St Ethelburga's School - Jassy (played by Scarlett Strallen, the niece of singer/actress Bonnie Langford) and Lucy - to sing with the band. While they struggle to persuade the girls, two posh St Ethelburga boys, Miles and Giles, form their own group Doctor B, in direct competition to North And South. No Sweat, a serial comedy, followed the struggles of Jimmy and Greg to overcome their friendly rivals, escape the clutches of Janis and Carly (and lesser bullies Belcher and Greebo) and achieve fame and fortune. Further complications came from Jimmy's overbearing mother, Bev, who, although supportive of the band, was adamant that her son should have nothing to do with the girls.
By the second series things had moved on, with the school area left far behind and the boys in the band reverting to their own names, and labouring for dodgy manager Mickey Freeman, a throwback to the days of glam. The storylines themselves got ever more fantastical.
No Sweat was an energetic production with good performances from its young leads, although it was flawed slightly by the nature of some of the comedy - the story was intriguing enough without some of the more imposing moments of surreal slapstick, wacky sound effects and verbal japery. Moreover, episodes ought to have carried a caveat: BMG Entertainment's financial stake in the show (and the involvement of pop TV producer Malcolm Gerrie) indicates that No Sweat was designed not just to entertain TV viewers but to sell records and, it was hoped, create a cross-media marketing phenomenon. It worked: the band scored an immediate top ten single, made videos and went on tour, events captured in a documentary, No Sweat Christmas Special, screened by BBC1 on 26 December 1997.
Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.
Number of episodes: 18
Length: 25 mins