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  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Additional footage - Pilot Episode
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Open All Hours - Series One

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 177 mins . PG . PAL


Like Porridge, Open All Hours was originally written as a one-off half hour comedy piece starring Ronnie Barker. Both were part of the same series of one-offs that was originally to be titled Six of One, but was retitled Seven of One when the scheduled six comedies became seven. Before you ask what happened to the other five, I confess that I do not know, presumably little.

As the name suggests, Open All Hours is set in a corner shop (which can be found in Lister Avenue, Balby, Doncaster if you ever happen to be in the neighbourhood – look for ‘Helen's Beautique’) run by tight-fisted, stuttering grocer Albert Arkwright (Ronnie Barker) and his nephew, Granville (David Jason). Arkwright has two passions in life, money, and bedding the busty nurse, Gladys Emmanuel. It’s fair to say that of the two, money comes first. His motto on life is simple, “Get the customer’s money in the till” – a till that has a tight-fisted and mean streak of its own.

Arkwright’s constant scheming to get to Nurse Gladys is impressive and his ability to bounce back after every knockback is admirable. He may get somewhere one day, if only he’d spend some money.

"Granville - fetch your cloth!"

His nephew, Granville, has been a loyal employee for ten years and has reached the giddy heights of “errand boy”, although he prefers the title, “junior executive”. His virginity is a constant source of amusement for Arkwright, who endeavours to extinguish even the smallest flame of hope Granville might have of ‘becoming a man’. When you consider that Granville is well past being a hormonally enraged teenager, Arkwright’s efforts to thwart any of Granville’s chances of getting ‘some’ is bordering on ridiculous. Still, it provides a laugh or two.

Nurse Gladys, who resides across the road, completes the core of the cast. She spends most of her on-screen time rebuffing Arkwright’s less than honourable intentions and fending off his wandering mitts. She may be a nurse, be she isn’t dispensing too much TLC Arkwright’s way.

This disc includes the entire first series of six episodes, filmed and first aired in 1976, plus the pilot episode from 1973. The following three series' were recorded much later in 1981, 1982, and 1985 respectively. The success of the show is again largely attributable to the brilliance of Barker and his subtle eye-movements, timing and delivery. There are numerous laughs to be had, though few are roaringly amusing. Some of the jokes are a little stale, and watching every episode in one sitting shows up the amount of repetition, so staggered viewing is recommended.


Like most BBC comedies, and certainly those of this vintage, Open All Hours is presented in a full frame aspect ratio, and as such it's not 16:9 enhanced. The image has more than decent sharpness, and colours are solid and consistent without being brilliant. The colours display no evidence of noise, and just some mild evidence of bleeding in some of the softer looking outdoor shots that have been filmed as opposed to taped in the studio.

There are very few marks to speak of, and no compression artefacts such as shimmer. Grain is restricted to the outdoor scenes, but is mild and not a distraction.

The layer change has wisely been placed between episodes.


Well I hope you're not expecting anything more than Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound as is usual with ‘70s television comedies. The basics are fine (and all that there is really) and there are no issues with volume, clarity or synchronisation. There is little in the way of music, and no real requirement for full surround sound, so it is not missed. Only the front left and right speakers are utilised, but are more than adequate. There is some slight tape hiss in the quieter moments, but is not a great problem.


There are two extras on offer, including the Pilot Episode Open All Hours, which is similar in content to the six episodes of the series and even contains some of the same gags. It is a little poorer as far as audio quality goes, and contains some noticeable hiss. The image is also slightly softer. It too lasts just under 30 minutes. It has a different actress playing Nurse Gladys, and Yootha Joice (Mildred) pops up in the role of a customer.

There is also a writer profile included which is several text screens of biographical information about the writer, Roy Clarke. It is interesting to note how prolific some of these writers were.


Barker fans rejoice for he is just as good in Open All Hours as he was in anything else he ever did. His brilliance in understating the comedy is what he does best, and his ability to make characters such as Arkwright so memorable and so popular is testament to the man’s comic genius. Ronnie Barker is sorely missed from our screens.

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