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Goodnight Sweetheart
Goodnight Sweetheart title card (with credits).jpg
Series title card
Genre Sitcom
Created by Laurence Marks
Maurice Gran
Developed by Alomo Productions
Starring Nicholas Lyndhurst
Victor McGuire
Christopher Ettridge
Michelle Holmes
Dervla Kirwan
Emma Amos
Elizabeth Carling
Theme music composer David Harsent
Anthony Sadler
Gaynor Sadler
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 6
No. of episodes 58 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Claire Hinson
Allan McKeown
Producer(s) John Bartlett
Nic Phillips
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Picture format 4:3
Original run 18 November 1993 – 28 June 1999

Goodnight Sweetheart is a popular BBC sitcom that ran for six series from 1993 to 1999. It stars Nicholas Lyndhurst as accidental time traveller, Gary Sparrow, who leads a double life after discovering a time portal allowing him to travel between 1990s London and London of World War II. The show was created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, also creators of Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman. The creators wrote the first series, while subsequent episodes were by a team of writers (including Marks and Gran).

Contents

Plot summary

Gary Sparrow is a thirty-something TV repairman living an ordinary life in 1990s Cricklewood. While his typically postmodern wife Yvonne hopes to start a family while simultaneously attempting to climb the "corporate ladder", Gary seems lost in a private dream-world and often waxes lyrical about the way people lived in bygone eras. One day, while out on a repair job in the East End, Gary stumbles down an alley called Duckett's Passage and accidentally discovers a time portal that leads to London in the Second World War.

While there, he comes across the Royal Oak pub, where he meets Phoebe Bamford, a pretty East-End barmaid; her staunchly patriotic father, Eric; and a jolly but rather daft policeman (or "bobby") named Reg Deadman. At first, Gary assumes he is simply dreaming; however, after waking up in the pub's cellar following an air raid, he realises that he has in fact travelled back in time.

Gary begins using the portal to flit between past and present with relative ease. He also discovers that the past and present exist concurrently, which means he can plan his actions down to the last minute. Soon, he starts a romantic, cross-time affair with Phoebe and is thus obliged to invent cover stories to explain his constant absences from both Phoebe in the 40s and his wife in the 90s. Neither woman has any idea that Gary is a time-traveller or an adulterer. Phoebe's father, Eric, is suspicious of Gary's motives and, as Phoebe is already married to a serving, British soldier (Donald Bamford), Gary looks to him like a slacker by comparison.

Gary's courtship of Phoebe is aided by the fact that he is able to supply her with items considered luxuries by WWII ration standards, such as chocolates and nylon stockings. He is also aided by his modern-day best friend and only confidant regarding his time-travelling, Ron Wheatcroft. As Ron is a printer by trade, he is able to replicate items essential to Gary's survival in the past, such as ID papers and period money.

Gary exploits his obvious advantage as a man from the future by claiming to be a "secret agent" and making accurate "predictions" about the war. He also uses the pub's piano to play popular tunes that post-date his 1940s audience and then claims he wrote them; most notoriously, Beatles songs. At first, Phoebe is easily impressed by Gary's glamorous antics, but after a while, his constant absences and increasingly bizarre-sounding cover stories begin to frustrate her, as they do Yvonne in the present day. Ron too finds that his marriage to wife Stella has begun to disintegrate in concurrence with him aiding Gary's time-travelling exploits.

As the series progresses, the characters are further developed. Phoebe's father dies in a bombing and Phoebe becomes self-consciously tougher and more astute. Donald is killed in the war, and soon after, Gary and Phoebe marry and have a son they name Michael. Technically, this makes Gary a bigamist, however, Gary rationalises to Ron that he is not, even though he is married to two different women: since Yvonne had not yet been born during World War II (when Gary is married to Phoebe), and since Phoebe appears to have died at some point before the present (when Gary is married to Yvonne), Gary considers himself faithful to both wives. He argues that 'my wives exist in different temporal aspects of a four-dimensional space-time continuum' although Ron considers this to be a 'typical bigamist’s excuse'. Yvonne also becomes pregnant, but suffers a miscarriage. Gary opens a shop in the present day named "Blitz and Pieces", where he sells as "rare memorabilia" goods he has casually acquired in the 1940s. Ron and his wife Stella separate and divorce. Gary and Phoebe move to a luxury flat in Mayfair, where they befriend Noël Coward. Yvonne becomes a millionairess with a successful organic beauty products company, and a personal friend of Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie. The sci-fi premise is also expanded to include more than basic time-travel; in one notable episode, "Mine's a Double", Gary is struck by lightning while walking through the time-portal and is split into three "selves": an homage to the Star Trek episode, "The Enemy Within". Toward the later series, the comedic premise is imbued with increasingly dramatic subtext, and ultimately, Gary must face the question of which wife he loves the most. In the final episode, set on VE Day, Gary finds that the time portal has closed, trapping him in the past permanently, and leaving Ron to explain the truth to Yvonne. As far as we know, Phoebe never learns of Gary's time-travelling secret although Gary did tell Phoebe whilst she was in hospital in 1942 that he came from 1996 where he had a wife but Phoebe was asleep and never heard the confession.

Episodes

A total of 58 episodes were made including a Christmas special. Marks and Gran—the creators—wrote the first series; episodes after which were written by other writers as well as the creators themselves.

As in Marks and Gran's sitcom Get Back, most episodes of Goodnight Sweetheart - and the programme itself - were named after popular song titles. The show is named after the song Goodnight, Sweetheart, a popular song of the 1930s and 1940s, written by Guy Lombardo and performed by Rudy Vallée among others. Due to a script-editing error, two different episodes (series one, episode six and series four, episode two) were both titled "In the Mood". There is no special connection between these two episodes.

DVD releases

All six series and the 1995 Christmas Special have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2), the Christmas special was released on the third series DVD. The first three series have been released in Australia (Region 4).

DVD Title Discs Year Ep. No. DVD release DVD Interview
Region 2 Region 4
Complete Series 1 1 1993 6 4 February 2005 13 August 2008 & 3 June 2009 Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran
Complete Series 2 2 1995 10 26 September 2005 5 November 2008 & 3 June 2009 Christopher Ettridge
Complete Series 3 2 1995 & 1996 11 23 January 2006 17 September 2009 Dervla Kirwan
Complete Series 4 2 1997 11 22 May 2006 Emma Amos
Complete Series 5 2 1998 10 24 July 2006 David Benson
Complete Series 6 2 1999 10 18 September 2006 Elizabeth Carling
Complete Series 1 - 6 11 1993 - 1999 58 23 October 2006 All of the above

Historical figures

Although the main characters are fictional, some real people have been portrayed in the wartime sequences. These include "Ludo" (possibly a young Robert Maxwell), King George VI, Wilfred Pickles, Winston Churchill, Ed Murrow, Guy Burgess, George Formby, Noël Coward (played by David Benson), Celia Johnson, the Kray twins, Trevor Howard, Alfred Lennon, David Lean, Clement Attlee and Cecil Beaton. Rolf Harris also appears as himself in a daytime dream sequence. Jack the Ripper features in one episode. Vera Lynn is also mentioned in the episode "When two worlds collide" when Phoebe hears modern music.

References

External links








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