Oh…Miss Jones!

WITHOUT WHOM – A look at the Team Behind The Series


The Leeds Studios, also known as Yorkshire Television Studios, were home to the recordings of Rising Damp from 1974 – 1978.
The studios opened in 1968, constructed on a slum-clearance on Kirkstall Road. The studios were billed as the first purpose-built colour television centre in Europe.
With ex-BBC director Paul Fox at the helm, the roster of programming was growing and growing and keen to bring in more light entertainment, Paul Fox brought in Duncan Wood who would head up entertainment, going on to commission Rising Damp.
Rising Damp was recorded in Studio 4, approx. 7,500 sq ft.


All producers and directors rely on their team to make a show run smoothly. Rising Damp had a number of key crew members who put the show together.


Eric Chappell


Dennis Wilson (For more info, please view the ‘What’s in a theme tune?’ page)


Ian MacNaughton imdb (Pilot)
Ronnie Baxter imdb (Series 1, except episode 4: Series 2, except episode 7; Christmas Special)
Len Lurcuck imdb (Series 1, episode 4, and Series 2, episode 7)
Vernon Lawrence imdb (Series 4)


Mary Byrne (Pilot; Series 1)
Celia Sherman-Fisher (Series 2)
Evelyn Hirschstein (Christmas Special; Series 3)
Ellie Hurst (Series 4)
Ellie Hurst worked as a PA alongside Vernon Lawrence (producer/director series 4). As well as coordinating all aspects of production, Ellie would be in the control box alongside Vernon during the recordings. Whilst the directors and production assistants had the privilege of reading and seeing the scripts performed throughout the week, there was nothing quite like the nervousness on the day of recording. After all, Rising Damp was filmed in front of a live audience and, as anyone knows in live entrainment, what might be a funny line to the cast and crew, may not have the same reaction to a fresh audience.



Colin Pigott imdb (all episodes except Series 4, episodes 3, 4, 5 and 6)
Colin Pigott and Peter Caldwell (Series 4, episode 3)
Peter Caldwell imdb (Series 4, episodes 4, 5 and 6)
Whilst you would naturally believe the sets of Rising Damp were based on the stage design of The Banana Box, they were in fact original designs. Colin Pigott had not seen the stage play so he was basing his judgement of Rigsby’s boardinghouse from scratch. He first designed the layout of the rooms for the pilot using a ground plan, sketches and a model of the set which he passed to Duncan Wood and Ian MacNaughton. Based on these preliminary sketches and models, Colin would also review the best way of shooting scenes. He then re-designed everything as soon as the first series was commissioned, passing his updated designs to Ronnie Baxter.
With their input, the set was reviewed and it was agreed that the beds the students sleep on were too big, if left at actual size, so they agreed on scaling them down, allowing the camera to shoot them from the boot, allowing perspective to create the illusion of a full-size bed. Not only that, it allowed for a more confined camera view, now able to include both beds and cast in one shot.
For the show, the decision was made to raise the floor 18” off the ground, drawing back to the stage show roots, allowing the performers to work on somewhat of a theatrical stage, which they were all very comfortable with. The stage design and layout also allowed a more theatrical setting for the audience.
With everything in its right place for shooting, the decoration of the sets was left to Colin.
Samples of colours and wallpapers were shown to the crew but ultimately it was Colin who made all the decisions on the set’s decor. Using dark greens and browns colours always presented a problem when trying to light the set for filming but expert lighting tech, Peter Hardman, still kept the feeling of a dark and dingy attic room. Everything about the set was grounded in reality, it wasn’t overly lit as most comedies were, nor were there parts of the set leaning or moving because of poor design and installation.
For Ruth Jones’ room, Colin bought some expensive flowery wallpaper from the Sanderson design group, established in 1860. Still in operation today, Sanderson’s still prepare quintessentially British designs. Once purchased, Colin went to work on aging the paper by various industry techniques to make it look worn and tatty. Funny enough, Colin still received requests on where to purchase the wallpaper. The paper matched Ruth perfectly.
Colin would try and work at least two episodes ahead, sitting in on the read throughs and planning the sets for the following week on the Saturday after filming the show.
As with everyone involved in the show, Colin is quick to praise Eric Chappell’s scripts and how easy they were to work with considering there were no major changes to scenes or situations causing a change of set design. Everyone complimented each other, Ronnie Baxter is always keen to give credit to this team of professionals, working tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything work.


Peter Hardman imdb and Peter Squires (Pilot; Series 1-2 and Series 3, except episode 6)
John Watt (Series 3. episode 6)
Peter Hardman (Series 4, except episodes 5 and 6)
Bob Gray (Series 4. episodes 5 and 6)
Lighting director Peter Hardman had worked for Yorkshire Television for over 30 years, having worked with Colin Pigott for over 10 years before joining him on his for Rising Damp, his first sitcom.
Rising Damp was Peter’s first sitcom and, whilst the trend was to over light shows, the brief to Peter was the show had to be kept dark, creating a dingy, damp ridden house. An unusual direction but it was critical to compliment Colin’s set design. Equipment also restricted what Peter wanted to do, especially when it came to keeping the room dark but lighting the actors. Like Colin, Peter still rates Rising Damp as one of his favourite shows to work on.


Mike Boyle Colin Philpott imdb, Arthur Tipper and Peter Lord (Pilot; Series 1)
Gerry Lord, Mike Boyle, Colin Philpott (Series 2; Christmas Special)
Arthur Tipper, Gerry Lord, Colin Philpott (Series 3)
Paul Thompson, Colin Philpott, Gerry Lord, Dave Ramsey (Series 4)
Cameras Used: The EMI 2001 Television Camera.
When it comes to capturing life in the Rigsby household on camera, space is at a premium. With the actors already working on a small stage, with minimum pieces of furniture, getting the angles right is a tricky affair. Most of these angles had already been pre-prepared by Colin Pigott and the director and, sometimes when there wasn’t enough room, a chippie was on hand to saw away a piece of set to allow a more favourable camera angle.
As with most TV shows, direction is mainly taken from the director but, where possible, an agreement is made between the cameraman and artist for a small adjustment in positioning.
With the set built on a rostrum, the camera crew were able to use the elevated stage to create more height by shooting certain angles from lower than the crafted stage. With one room being on the ground level, and the other on a raised platform, the optics for the rooms could be conveyed easier by increasing angles by lowering the shot at the expense of height.


Brenda Fox imdb (Pilot; Series 1-3 and Series 4, except episode 6)
Issy Berry (Pilot; Series 1-3 and Series 4)
June Cashman (Series 4, episode 6)
Brenda Fox was the Senior Costume Designer at Yorkshire Television. Having already worked on a number of shows for the BBC, she was the first to work on the pilot for Rising Damp. Taking inspiration from the stage play, The Banana Box, Brenda was keen to establish a look and feel of Rigsby, using his stage name ‘Rooksby’ from the theatrical production as a base. Because Rigsby spent most of his time patrolling the boarding-house, it was a genius idea to place Rigsby in plimsolls, allowing him to move panther-like throughout the house without anyone hearing him, the plimsolls were later changed to slippers, allowing a similar effect.
With his trousers and iconic cardigan being purchased from a second-hand shop, the department made around six shirts for Leonard to wear. The trousers were also aged by using shoe polish and Vaseline, just to give them a well-worn shiny look in the knees and general wear areas.
Once the show had been picked up as a series, she would attend the read-throughs in London to find out what costumes would be required for additional artists, as well as any costume changes for the main cast. The students were dressed in 70s attire, with Alan wearing new jeans or a sweatshirt, trainers or desert boot. Philip’s outfits asserted a confidence and arrogance, befitting his style and alleged background. Don Warrington was pampered, going shopping with Brenda at Browns on South Molton Street in London to purchase his outfits. Philip’s high-end outfits would later become Don’s own wardrobe. Miss Jones had the most costume changes throughout the series, cognizant of her appearance, she was always looking to project an image of confidence and class, albeit a little strained from unrequited love. Brenda dressed Miss Jones in heels, mainly to empathise her awkwardness and height, these are rarely seen in the episodes but this photo here shows the footwear. They were added to increase her awkwardness around the small confines of the bedsit.
The skeleton in the boys’ room remained bare until Issy Berry was asked to dress it, and indeed remove the odd eyeball throughout the series.
Did you know?
In the early 2000s I enquired about the whereabouts of any costumes remaining from the series, particularly Rigsby’s cardigan. I was informed that clothing from the series, including the cardigan, had been kept in storage and recently been sent off in a parcel to support a worthy cause. It’s a thought to wonder if anyone ended up with Rigsby’s iconic cardigan, or indeed his demob suit!


Di Caplin (Pilot; Series 1, except episode 6)
Jane Clifton (Series 1, episode 6)
Viv Locklin (Series 2; Christmas Special)
Pam Fox, Pearl Rashbash and Pat Reid (Series 3)
Judy Binns (Series 4)
The art of the make-up artists is to represent the character, not the actor. Philip’s character required only his ‘make believe’ initiation scars to be applied to his cheek, allegedly representing his upbringing. Keen eyed viewers will see that his cars tend to shift from one cheek to the other during the series. Alan required a wig or two as his hair wasn’t long to perform as long haired lay about Alan as this was due to his role of Godber whilst simultaneously filming the sitcom Porridge. Ruth required a looked that made her look tired and downtrodden, quite the opposite of Frances, and Rigsby was made to look as if he didn’t regularly bath and cleanliness was not a priority. Again, this was quite the opposite to the dapper Leonard. So, it was important to look at the overall vision of the character, their life and persona, all based on Brenda’s costume design and the setting of the episodes.


Ron Parker and Ian Hughes (Pilot, Series 1)
Dave Whitely, Chris Warner and Ian Hughes (Series 2; Christmas Special)
Ian Hughes and Chris Warner (Series 3)
Glyn Edwards, Ian Hughes, Dave Whitely and Chris Warner (Series 4)


Kay Harrington, John Cooper and Chris Foley (Pilot; Series 1)
Kay Harrington and Chris Foley (Series 2)
Jackie O’Gorman (Christmas Special)
Sue James, Kay Harrington and Jackie O’ Gorman (Series 3)
Sue James, Chris Foley and Kay Harrington (Series 4)


Terry Knowles and Olive Simpson
Initially the show began with just one stage manager but once the show was commissioned and continued to grow, the workload increased until another member of the team was added. Terry and Olive were a crucial part of the production team, involved in communicating and supporting every department on the show, including communicating script changes to the Production Assistant, reviewing set plans from Colin Pigott and the marking of the set at the rehearsal room in London, ready for blocking the script, ensuring everything was in its right place. Any props used during rehearsal were noted and passed to the Props buyer for the studio recording.
Gil Proctor was the main Props buyer, assisted Rod Saul. Their job was to dress the set with the help of direction from designer Colin Pigott. These items were either sourced direct from the Yorkshire Television warehouse, a hire company, or they were purchased elsewhere. Colin would then revisit them once items had been sourced, just to review their suitability. Just like all items for the show, ageing them, or changing their appearance to reflect the setting of the rundown boarding-house posed the biggest challenge to it was ideal, and time saver, to purchase the items already well used.
The majority of Terry and Olive’s work was undertaken during rehearsals but this meant everything had to be exactly replicated back in Leeds. In addition, they were also tasked with any prop or visual effects, such as co-ordinating the Bunsen burner scene from the Pilot, the fake Diphtheria germ jar, the steam from the curry prepared by Miss Jones, golf clubs for Rigsby, sandwiches for the mayor, to the wedding cake and confetti in the final episode.

Floor Managers:

Mike Purcell
Pat Richards
Don Clayton imdb
With the producer/director in the gallery, along with their Pas, it was the floor managers job to liaise with everyone on the show floor to ensure the recording ran smoothly. They were also given the task of having to stop the recording at any given moment, be it a missed cue, line, or camera angle, anything could go wrong…even losing the cat, Vienna, under the audience! Don Clayton recalls his anxiousness when having to halt recordings whilst Leonard was in full flow as Rigsby. As Eric wrote long dialogue for the actors, Don recalls how Leonard would take about 10secs after he had called a halt to the recording, such was the ferocity and speed of his delivery. Don always felt guilty breaking Leonard’s flow but that was all part of the job.
It can’t be stressed enough how good the team that worked on Rising Damp was. Whilst, at times, there may have been tensions between the artists and production crew, it was all about the teamwork. Everyone contributed enormously to the success of the show and, as the show got more popular, the team got closer and closer as the years went by.

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