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As Time Goes By
As Time Goes By cast.jpg
From left; Sandy, Jean, Lionel, Alistair and Judi
Genre Situation comedy
Created by Colin Bostock-Smith
Starring Judi Dench
Geoffrey Palmer
Moira Brooker
Philip Bretherton
Jenny Funnell
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 67 (List of episodes)
Running time 64x30 minutes
1x45 minutes
1x50 minutes
1x60 minutes
Original channel BBC
Original run 12 January 1992 – 30 December 2005

As Time Goes By is a British sitcom that aired on BBC One from 1992 to 2005. Starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer, it follows the relationship between two former lovers who meet unexpectedly after not being in contact for 38 years[1].

The programme's title is a reference to the 1931 song "As Time Goes By", which was also used as the title music, recorded by Joe Fagin.[2]

The show was written by Bob Larbey,[2] who had co-written The Good Life. In 2004, As Time Goes By came 29th in Britain's Best Sitcom.[3]

The series was produced by Theatre of Comedy Entertainment, in association with DLT Entertainment Ltd. for the BBC.




Second Lieutenant Lionel Hardcastle (Geoffrey Palmer) and Nurse Jean Pargetter (Judi Dench) met in the summer of 1953 or 1954 (depending on the episode) and fell in love, but when Lionel was sent to Korea they lost touch. He had sent her a letter when he arrived in Korea, which she did not receive, and both assumed the other had lost interest. After his war service, Lionel had gone to Kenya and became a coffee planter. He and his wife Margaret had divorced on the grounds of "mutual boredom", and he had moved back to England. Jean married, and after her husband's death set up "Type for You", a secretarial agency. She has a daughter, Judith Hanson (Moira Brooker), who had married twice (to 'Ken' who had 'sad eyes' and 'Edward' who was 'very clever'), with both marriages ending in divorce.

In the opening episodes, 38 years later, Lionel selects "Type for You", initially unaware that Jean is the proprietor, to finalize the copy for his book My Life in Kenya. When Jean and Lionel both recognize who the other is, their romance begins to blossom again, but only after a slow start. In the third series, Lionel moves into Jean's house in Holland Park, London, and they marry during the following series.

As the series begins, Judith develops a crush on Lionel, and his publisher Alistair Deacon (Philip Bretherton) takes an interest in Jean. Both crushes are brief, and eventually Judith and Alistair fall for each other and much later, marry. Other plot lines feature Lionel being asked to write an American TV mini-series, Just Two People, based on his early romance with Jean. The mini-series fails after one episode. Jean eventually retires from her company, and later donates work hours to a charity shop.

Jean's very efficient secretary and Judith's best friend is Sandy (Jenny Funnell), who eventually moves in with the Hardcastles after splitting with her boyfriend Nick. She later starts dating Harry (Daniel Ryan), a policeman and rugby player whom she marries at the end of the series. Other characters are Lionel's father, Rocky (Frank Middlemass), who owns a large country house in Hampshire which he later gives to Lionel. The housekeeper is Mrs. Bale (Janet Henfrey), who has an unusual interest in the Shipping Forecast, and the gardener is Lol Ferris (Tim Wylton). Rocky marries Madge (Joan Sims) when he is 85 and she is 78, and they frequently travel around the world. In Series Nine, Madge is mentioned as being on an archaeological dig in Egypt; in reality the actress who portrayed her had died before filming began. Jean's first husband's sister Penny (Moyra Fraser), who always calls Jean "Poor Jean", and her dentist husband Stephen (Paul Chapman), who once accidentally declined the OBE, also make many appearances[4].


The programme ran for nine series from 12 January 1992 to 4 August 2002. Almost all episodes were 30 minutes in duration. The final series episode was followed by an hour-long compilation show on 11 August 2002, and by a two part "Reunion Special" broadcast on 26 and 30 December 2005. The Reunion Specials were the last appearance of Frank Middlemass, who played Rocky, before his death in 2006[5].

Other countries

As Time Goes By has been aired on BBC America, and is still currently being run weekly on PBS, with various cast members appearing live on air during yearly pledge drives. It has also been broadcast in Canada on BBC Canada and TVOntario, in Australia on ABC. Also in New Zealand on both UK.TV and SKY Network Television, in Finland on YLE_TV1[6] and on DSTV in Nigeria.


As Time Goes By was adapted and recorded for radio. Three series were broadcast on BBC Radio 2 between 1997 and 1999. The first episode included a flashback to Jean and Lionel 38 years before, something that never happened on television. All episodes correspond to a TV episode and featured the original cast, apart from the original actor from the television program (Bretherton) not playing Alistair in Series One - Bretherton did play Alistair in both Series Two and Three. So far, only the first series has been released on BBC Audio Cassette.


Series One (1997)

  1. "Episode One" (18 March 1997)
  2. "Episode Two" (25 March 1997)
  3. "Episode Three" (1 April 1997)
  4. "Episode Four" (9 April 1997)
  5. "Episode Five" (16 April 1997)
  6. "Episode Six" (23 April 1997)
  7. "Episode Seven" (30 April 1997)

Series Two (1998)

  1. "Episode One" (18 January 1998)
  2. "We'll Always Have Paris" (25 January 1998)
  3. "Living Together — But Where?" (1 February 1998)
  4. "Covering Up" (8 February 1998)
  5. "Moving In" (15 February 1998)
  6. "Branching Out" (22 February 1998)

Series Three (1999)

  1. "The Mini Series" (14 February 1999)
  2. "Dealing With Sally" (21 February 1999)
  3. "Problems, Problems" (28 February 1999)
  4. "A House Full of Women" (7 March 1999)
  5. "Getting Rid of Gwen" (14 March 1999)
  6. "The Affair" (21 March 1999)
  7. "The Anniversary Party" (28 March 1999)

DVD releases

The complete series was released in DVD region code 2 by Cinema Club, in DVD region code 1 by BBC America and as five sets in DVD region code 4 by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The reunion special is also available on DVD now, distributed by Acorn Media UK.

Australian DVD Releases:

  • As Time Goes By - Series 1 & 2 (2 Disc Set)
  • As Time Goes By - Series 3 & 4 (3 Disc Set) - November 10, 2004
  • As Time Goes By - Series 5 & 6 (2 Disc Set) - April 7, 2005
  • As Time Goes By - Series 7 & 8 (2 Disc Set) - October 6, 2005
  • As Time Goes By - Series 9 - August 9, 2004
  • As Time Goes By - Series 1-9: Collectors Edition (11 Disc Box Set) - October 6, 2006


  • Mark Lewisohn, "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy", BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003

External links


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