Oh…Miss Jones!



Shiver Productions for ITV Studios


I first found out about this documentary via the British Comedy Guide website (comedy.co.uk). I saw that Shiver Productions were commissioned by ITV to put together a two-part documentary to be screened over Easter in 2016.

All my archive was boxed up but I couldn’t overlook the opportunity to be involved. Expecting to hear nothing back, I reached out to Shiver to see if they needed my assistance and, whilst out shopping, I was surprised to receive an email from them. A few phone calls later, I was sending over some bits from my archive and sharing stories with the producer. Sadly, due to time constraints, I was unable to fly over and be part of the documentary in person.

Narrated by Martin Clunes, the opening line of this two part documentary says it all –

“It’s one of the greatest comedies of all time”

Claiming to giveaway the secrets on set, the first part of this documentary looks at the origins of Rising Damp, The Banana Box, as well as a short biography of each actor. We hear memories from Kate Beckinsale, Helen Fraser, Paul Jones and  Joe McGrath. After 43 years, Don Warrington returns to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle where he played Philip in The Banana Box. Eric Chappell presents a brief overview of how he started writing Rising Damp. The first part ends with Don meeting Eric Chappell at the Yorkshire TV studios where they share a laugh over Don’s complaint that Eric wrote too much dialogue in one scene for them to record…much to the amusement of both of them.

Part two opens with a recap of the series and the incredible rise of the sitcom that just got better and better. Vernon Lawrence gives us an introduction as to how new characters made a difference to the sitcom, bringing new situations to the boardinghouse, and to set pieces outside the house. Helen Fraser reflects on working with Leonard, followed by actress Judy Buxton thoroughly enjoying a clip from ‘Clunk Click’, and how she was to return for her second episode, ‘The Cocktail Hour’, where Judy recalls her scenes with Richard.

Don returns to YTV for the first time in nearly 40years, informing us that he claimed most of Philip’s wardrobe on screen to wear as his own!

Kate Beckinsale shares her memories of her Dad and Vernon Lawrence returns to the archives of YTV, joined by Production Assistant Ellie Hurst.

Memories of Richard are shared and we see how the movie came to be without him, Christopher Strauli and Joe McGrath meet up to visit the location of the movie.

The documentary ends with a wonderful scene of the cast and crew reunited – Eric Chappell, Don Warrington, Vernon Lawrence, Ellie Hurst, former runner John Heaton and floor manager Don Clayton.

Of course, I would have liked to have seen some more bits and pieces from the archives including outtakes and behind the scenes stills, and I would have liked to have shared the story regarding Rigsby’s cardigan, which I heard on good authority, that it got shipped out in a charity bag from Yorkshire TV. Was some needy soul really walking around in Rigsby’s tatty cardigan?

But you can’t have it all, it was really great to see cast and crew finally reunited at the Yorkshire Studios along with supporting cast reminiscing about their time on the show.

A long overdue celebration of Rising Damp, and we hope for many more to come.

If you missed it, a quick search on Youtube will bring up a few links.

Sit back, raise a glass to the RISING DAMP team… and enjoy!

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