A must have collection of great comedy, most of which I'd never seen before. The pilot episodes of Open All Hours and Porridge are great and prove why the series went on to such success.What a pity also there was no follow up to the Laurel and Hardy spoof "Another fine mess" with Roy Castle. My young children adore that episode. The talent of the great and much missed Ronnie Barker shines through this collection, and inspired me to rewatch the Porridge and Going Straight series.
Originally screened in 1973, this was a one-off series of seven episodes, all of which feature the late, great Ronnie Barker in the lead role. Each show features Barker playing a different character and two episodes were later developed into memorable series of their own; Open All Hours and Porridge. Those two aside, Seven Of One has rarely been repeated since it was originally shown and is a worthy addition to the collection of any fan of classic comedy. It consists of the following episodes: Open All Hours – Barker plays the miserly Northern shopkeeper Arkwright who victimises his errand boy nephew (played by David Jason). This entertaining episode also features Yootha Joyce playing the part of a customer. Sheila Brennan plays the part of Nurse Gladys (later to be played by Lynda Baron) and the shop is in a different location from the later series. Prisoner and Escort – this is the classic precursor to Porridge, which sees Barker as prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher being escorted to prison by Mr Mackay (played by Fulton Mackay) and Mr Barraclough (Brian Wilde). My Old Man – this features Barker as an old man who is forced to leave his soon-to-be-demolished home to live with his daughter and her family. One of the best shows in the series, it features a funny cameo appearance by Leslie Dwyer. Spanner’s Eleven – this episode follows the fortunes of Ashfield Athletic Football Club (or Ashfield Pathetic as a fan has daubed on the sign outside their ground). Barker is the manager of the beleaguered club, and is given an ultimatum by a local councillor (played by Bill Maynard) to achieve the impossible and actually win a game! The show has a similar feel to, but not quite the quality of, Michael Palin’s classic Ripping Yarns episode Golden Gordon. Another Fine Mess – this enjoyable episode features Barker as an American man who sends his wife to sleep with tablets in order to escape for the evening to take part in a talent contest. Dressed as Oliver Hardy, he escapes from his bedroom to join up with Roy Castle whose character is dressed as Stan Laurel. However, they get sidetracked, to hilarious effect, on the way to the contest. One Man’s Meat – written by Barker himself, this is the weakest show of the series and feels more like an extended sketch from The Two Ronnies than a sitcom. Barker’s character is a man who is desperate to escape a starvation diet imposed by his wife (played by Prunella Scales). The show also features guest appearances by Glynn Edwards, Joan Sims and Sam Kelly. I’ll Fly You For A Quid – the final episode finds Barker as gambling Welshman Evan Owen, who is determined to retrieve his late father’s (cleverly also played by Barker) winning betting slip. The family in the show are keen to have a flutter on anything!
Quite Simply - I Love It - Ronnie Barker on top form. I really enjoyed the pilot where Ronnie was moved out of his terraced house and to live with his daughter and family. I can see why they didn't make it into a series as the stories would have been limited but as a one-off episode it's excellent. Highly recommnded box set.
This is a great DVD release for Ronnie Barker fans. This classic series from 1973 just goes to show the talent of the great man, seven comedy stories with Ronnie playing seven completely different characters. Included are the pilot shows of 'Porridge' and 'Open All Hours', which of course introduced us to Ronnie's best known characters, Fletcher & Arkwright. Other stories included are 'My Old Man' which see's Ronnie playing a pensioner forced out of his home by the council. 'Another Fine Mess' which is an homage to Laurel & Hardy. 'Spanner's Eleven' about a dismal football club. 'One Man's Meat' about a man forced to go on a diet by his wife. 'I'll Fly You For A Quid' a comedy about a lost betting slip. All seven episodes are very funny, this is classic Barker.
What can you say about Ronnie Barker that hasn't already been said! He's the best and there's no one else that comes close. His comedy is for the intelligent and thinking person. If you're not paying attention you'll certainly miss half the jokes. John Cleese once said that Monty Mython was of it's time; if they tried making it today it would bomb because people have become so dumbed down and just wouldn't get the jokes. Ronnie Barker too is that kind of comedian. The jokes are funny because they make you think, but they're not too deep that you just won't get them.