UK, BBC, Sitcom, colour, 1979
Starring: Arthur Lowe, Noel Dyson, John Barron
Arthur Lowe portrayed several memorable TV characters in his time, including Leonard Swindley in Coronation Street, Pardon The Expression! and Turn Out The Lights; Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army; Father Duddleswell in Bless Me, Father; and, here, the incorrigible meddler Redvers Potter.
As Potter begins, Redvers Potter is retiring from his job at the helm of the confectionery company that has given Britain the famous 'Potter Mints' ('The Hotter Mints'). Thus, this captain of industry, a man used to organising people and things, suddenly has time on his hands, a commuter no more and somewhat at a loose end in the leafy suburbs of south London. Rather than sit back and take it easy, Potter determines to lead a full life by making himself useful and wandering around 'assisting' people, whether or not they have asked for or require his help. A bombastic man with set ways and an outlook shaped by 50 years of reading The Daily Telegraph, Potter is permanently at odds with those he is trying to help and his presence usually exacerbates the situations.
Potter had the traditional sitcom support system: a wife (Aileen) who somehow put up with his eccentricities; a young neighbour, 'Tolly' - a man whom Potter felt needed the benefit of his advice and experience (but who palpably did not); and a like-minded drinking buddy and confidant (the local vicar) with whom to share his philosophy. Such characters have almost become clichés in sitcoms yet they seemed less so in the skilled hands of writer Roy Clarke, who had already proved a master of naturally humorous dialogue with Last Of The Summer Wine and Open All Hours.
When Arthur Lowe died on 15 April 1982, aged 66, plans were already advanced for a third series of Potter, so Robin Bailey - impressive as Uncle Mort in I Didn't Know You Cared- took over the role, and, considering the exacting task, fared exceedingly well. This last run also had to do without Harry H Corbett, the famed Steptoe And Son actor, who had appeared in the second series of Potter but died on 21 March 1982, aged 57.
Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.
Arthur Lowe - Redvers Potter (series 1 & 2); Robin Bailey (series 3)
Noel Dyson - Aileen Potter
John Barron - Vicar
John Warner - 'Tolly' Tolliver
Lally Bowers - Harriet (series 1)
Ken Wynne - Willy (series 1)
Harry H Corbett - Harry Tooms (series 2)
Brenda Cowling - Jane (series 3)
Roy Clarke - Writer
Peter Whitmore - Producer (series 1 & 2
Bernard Thompson - Producer (series 3)
Number of episodes: 20
Length: 30 mins
Series One (6) 1 Mar-5 Apr 1979, BBC1 Thu mostly 8.30pm
Series Two (7) 27 Feb-9 Apr 1980, BBC1 Wed mostly 8.30pm
Series Three (7) 17 July-28 Aug 1983, BBC1 Sun around 10pm
The information in the bbc.co.uk Guide to Comedy is complied from 'The Radio Times Guide to Television Comedy' by Mark Lewisohn, published by BBC Books. More information about the book is available from the BBC Shop.
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Reviews supplied by Radio Times © 2003 BBC Worldwide - used under licence from BBC Worldwide.
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