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Behaving Badly

DVD cover
Approx. run time 200 minutes
Genre Drama
Written by Catherine Heath
Moira Williams
Based on the novel by Catherine Heath
Directed by David Tucker
Produced by Humphrey Barclay
Moira Williams
Starring Judi Dench
Music by Stephen Oliver
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel Channel 4
Original run 20 February – 13 March 1989
No. of episodes 4

Behaving Badly is a 1989 British television serial directed by David Tucker. The teleplay by Catherine Heath and Moira Williams is based on Heath's novel of the same name. It was initially broadcast by Channel 4. The series was released on DVD in 2005.

The plot focuses on Bridget Mayor, a middle-aged housewife and part-time teacher who is forced to re-evaluate her life when her husband of twenty years abandons her for a younger woman.


Episode summaries

  • The Tale of the Turbot (Originally broadcast on February 20, 1989)

Five years after her divorce, Bridget is living in a small flat purchased for her by her ex-husband Mark and seeking to improve her life by participating in a variety of evening adult education programs, including a pottery class. At the request of her local clergyman, she attends services at a predominantly black parish in Croydon, where she is unsettled by young pastor Daniel, who regards her as an intruder. She unintentionally departs with a Bible borrowed from one of the congregants. Frieda, her aging, demanding, and sharp-tongued ex-mother-in-law who detests her son's second wife Rebecca and makes every effort to destroy their marriage, is left alone when the couple take a weekend holiday in France. When they return, they discover Bridget not only has moved back into the house she once shared with Paul, but is determined to stay indefinitely.

  • Home Fires (Originally broadcast on February 27, 1989)

Mark desperately tries to find someone who can convince Bridget to return to her own home, while at the same time she and Rebecca begin to bond. Bridget and Paul's daughter Phyllida sees a photograph of Daniel on the church newsletter tucked into the Bible her mother took and, finding his looks appealing, decides to return it to him. At first he resists her obvious flirting but soon finds himself attracted to her as well, although he is conflicted in his feelings, certain his community would disapprove of a relationship with a white woman.

  • Seize the Day (Originally broadcast on March 6, 1989)

Phyllida, who shares a flat with bisexual Giles, straight Jonathan, and Serafina, a teacher on the verge of a nervous breakdown, finds her home life disrupted when Giles' crotchety grandfather Herbert is unceremoniously dumped on their doorstep. Although estranged from her father and his wife, Phyllida opts to move in with them to escape the overcrowded conditions, whereupon Bridget takes her daughter's place in the Battersea flat. She finds herself enjoying her unofficial role of mother and caretaker.

  • The Horse May Talk (Originally broadcast on March 13, 1989)

Bridget finds herself increasingly attracted to the considerably younger Giles, who proposes they move to San Diego, where he was born, and start a new life there together. He wavers in his decision when he realizes he can't leave his grandfather, but that obstacle is removed when the elderly man dies from an overdose of sleeping pills fed to him by an exasperated Serafina, who is fed up with his chronic complaining and constant demands. Bridget and Giles board a British Airways flight; she notices him cruising another male passenger, and as the plane takes off she is left wondering how successful this new relationship will be.


Awards and nominations

Judi Dench was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress.

External links



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