Regardless of what some people might think, ITV can, and have made some quality comedy series. The BBC can rightly claim to having screened some of the biggest hits in the world of sitcom, but the `people's channel' have had their fair share of success (and, admittedly - a lot of flops as well) with this genre. `Agony' is a good example.
Written by Len Richmond (who later penned `Split Ends' with Anita Dobson) and Anna Raeburn, `Agony' was a huge hit for ITV in the late `70s and early `80s, running for three series, and was later revived 15 years later with a sequel: 'Agony Again' (on BBC).
It stars the brilliant Maureen Lipman as straight-talking, quick witted agony aunt Jane (which I still regard as one of her best roles), a hit in the newspapers, and on radio and TV talk shows. She knows the answers to people's baffling problems all too well - but seems incapable of dealing with her own troubled life.
Her husband Laurence, who has experienced two breakdowns, leaves her in the first episode, her hypochondriac, very Jewish mother is never far away from the phone, and her only comfort comes from the annoying DJ Andy (well played by the always hilarious Peter Blake) and her two gay neighbours.
This edgy and original show is quite risque, even for 1979, boldly addressing the gay community, but portraying them as real people, and not the usual caricatures that were around at the time. I'd never seen the series until I picked up this DVD a few days ago, but enjoyed it enormously.
'Agony', on the evidence of the first series, is a laugh a minute sitcom, with great acting, very good scripts, a good bit of drama mixed in with the comedy, and an irresistible theme tune. These six episodes appear only somewhat dated, and I think that considering that they are over thirty years old, hold up quite well.
One for fans of Maureen Lipman, or classic British sitcom in general!