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The dry Northern humour centres mostly on money and sex, the latter interest in Arkwright's case being the buxom charms of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, very well played by Lynda Baron. Like writer Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine, the episodes are more amusing character sketches than stories, with the 1973 pilot and first regular episode "Full of Mysterious Promise" serving simply to introduce the players. In "A Mattress on Wheels", Arkwright is tempted to buy a van, and in "A Nice Cosy Little Disease" decides a fake illness will prompt Gladys Emmanuel to provide more than NHS standard TLC. "Beware of the Dog" is Arkwright's response to an attempted burglary, while when his best friend dies he plans a "Well Catered Funeral". Finally, in "Apples and Self Service", paranoia defeats Arkwright's attempts to move with the times.
On the DVD: Open All Hours has a 4:3 picture that is exceptional for a 1970s sitcom, while the mono sound is excellent. Extras are a reasonably detailed text biography of series writer Roy Clarke, and, much more notably, a complete bonus episode, the 1973 series pilot. The picture quality of this is not up to that of the series proper, but it is perfectly fine for vintage BBC TV. --Gary S Dalkin
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