Who’d want to be a lodger with a landlord like Rigsby?
THE NEW TENANT (also known as ‘Rooksby’)
Read-Through: 27 June 1974 at Conference Room 6th Floor 29 – 30 Old Burlington Street, London, W1
Rehearsals: 28 June 1974 – Friday 5th July at St Paul’s Church Hall, Sussex Place, London W6
9:30 – 1:30pm
Walk-Through: 6 July 1974 at Yorkshire Television Centre, Leeds
5 – 5:30pm
Recorded: 7 July 1974 at Yorkshire Television Centre, Studio 4, Leeds
First Broadcast: 8pm, Monday 2 September 1974
Leonard Rossiter – Rigsby
Richard Beckinsale – Alan
Frances de la Tour – Ruth
Don Warrington – Philip
Creator/Writer – Eric Chappell
Producer – Duncan Wood
Director – Ian MacNaughton
Designer – Colin Pigott
Music – Dennis Wilson
Casting – Sue Whatmough
Floor Manager – Mike Purcell
Stage Manager – Terry Knowles
Production Asst – Mary Byrne
Lighting – Walter Hanlon
Cameras – Arthur Tipper
Sound – Glyn Edwards
Vision Mixer – John Cooper
Tech Supervisor – Gordon Quin
Wardrobe – Tanya Nicholson
Make-up – Mary Griffiths
Prop Buyer – Rod Saul
Call Boy – John Heaton
Warm-up – Felix Bowness
Who’d want to be a lodger with a landlord like Rigsby?
Rigsby, self-styled aristocrat of bed-sitter land, isn’t really prejudiced about anyone or anything in particular. He’s more or less prejudiced about everyone and everything in general unless of course you happen to have fought for your country at Dunkirk.
But there is one exception. When it comes to Ruth, one of the two lodgers who currently have the misfortune to share the roof of Rigsby’s shabby shambles of an establishment, he admits to having a tender spot. He sees himself as her knight in shining armour.
Ruth has an interest in Risgby too – but it’s far from an amoral one. He has a prize vacant flat, and it’s just what Ruth wants for the real object of her affections.
Rigsby’s other lodger, long-haired Alan, who is suffering in a freezing garret, would like to move into the vacant room too. So he isn’t pleased when Rigsby lets it to one Philip – having fallen for a glowing description of him from Ruth.
But Rigsby soon finds out that, as a landlord, he’s been well and truly landed…
Did you know?
- The rehearsal script for this episode bears the title ‘Rooksby’. Leonard Rossiter’s character is referred to as Rooksby, the original title of the series, though this was changed to Rigsby prior to recording. However, as the image below shows, it was still noted as Rooksby on the clock ident.
- The opening credits were superimposed over a scene of Rigsby dragging on a cigareete whilst ascending the stairs of his boarding house to his newly vacated first floor flat. This led neatly into the beginning of the story. Sequence ran for approximately 48secs.
- Caption slide was used at the commercial break, simply reading “RISING DAMP” on a black background, together with the wording ‘END OF PART ONE’ and ‘PART TWO’.
- ‘END OF PART ONE’ was accompanied with incidental music from Dennis Wilson’s theme tune. Stock music was used to accompany the return to ‘PART TWO’. Additional bars from the theme tune were later used in the episode to link two scenes in the latter half.
- Because of filming commitments with the BBC comedy Porridge, Richard Beckinsale wore one of two wigs – supplied by Yorkshire Television’s costume department. Both Beckinsale and Chappell are stated to have been unhappy about this, the latter crediting Ronnie Baxter (producer series 1 – 3) – with having proposed the idea. However, the Pilot was produced by Duncan Wood so it’s unclear whether Ronnie did originally make the suggestion. Due to references in Eric’s script to Alan’s hair, the wig was necessary all the same. With the exception of a short scene towards the end of Stage Struck, Alan wore a wig throughout the series.
- Alan’s surname ‘Moore’ is mentioned for the only time in the series.
- Ruth Jones wears her glasses for the first time
- In the TV Times (31st August – 6th September 1974) Alan’s name was incorrectly noted as ‘Hallam’, which seemed to originate from the incorrect name featured in the press pack. See the YTV Press Pack page.
- Rigsby’s cat – Vienna – makes his first appearance. Leonard disliked working with the cat and, as you can see from a scene in this episode, the feeling was mutual as the cat tries to escape from him. A meow was ‘fed in’ from stock during the scene in which Rigbsy aims a kick at Vienna.
- A backdrop was used to represent the view of the surrounding buildings from the windows of the first floor flat.
- The close up of Alan with the lit Bunsen burner was pre-recorded on a telecine insert.
- The tribal marks on Don Warington’s left cheek was applied with make-up.
- Attention to detail was paid to the set with peeling wallpaper hanging from the walls of the attic flat, as a result of rising damp.
- The first floor flat was reached by descending two steps from the landing. Origins of this are from the stage play (The Banana Box).
- The end credits were superimposed over the closing scenes of this story.
Interesting to note:
- Production# 2721
- Broadcast at 8pm – 8:30pm
- Showing opposite on BBC1 was the 11th European Athletics Championships from Rome’s Stadio Olympico
- ‘The New Tenant’ – 6.15m viewing figures (11th for the week)
“One of those exercises in which the parts added up to even more than the whole … If Rossiter in particular can keep this up, and is given the scripts, we should have a gentle treat to look forward to.”
Peter Fiddick, The Guardian (3 September 1974)
- This was Eric Chappell’s first sitcom episode
- The New Tenant was the first of six new half-hour comedies from Yorkshire Television, initiated by incoming YTV Head of Comedy Duncan Wood. One other series resulted – Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt! with Bill Maynard.
- You’ll Never Walk Alone starring Brian Glover. Written by Galton and Simpson
- Brotherly Love with Keith Baron
- Badger’s Set written by Barry Took
- Slater’s Day with John Junkin
- Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt! starring Bill Maynard and written by Roy Clarke
- Rigsby agrees 4 pounds rent with Ruth but charges Philip 6
Rigsby is not clutching a duster as per the orig script notes which calls for him to casually flick at a piece of furniture in the vacant room with evident satisfaction.He smokes a small roll up instead.
Missing dialogue from Orig script re. Alan’s long hair.
Rigsby: Now wait a minute. I’ve got nothing against long hair – it’s what’s hiding behind it that worries me.
After Rigbsy references the 1974 Sex Olympics starting on his father’s settee, he continues..
Alan (protests): But I’m not like that, Rigsby.
Rigsby: I know what you students are like – sex mad.
Alan: Now, listen, have I ever brought a girl back here?
Rigsby: Not yet. But you’re only waiting your chance – just like the rest of them.
Rigsby: You needn’t blame this place for your lack of success with women, mate. I keep telling you – it’s your hair.
Alan: There you are you see – it is my hair. That’s what you’ve got against me. That’s why you won’t let me have the room.
Rigsby: It’s got nothing to do with your hair. I fought Adolf Hitler for five years but it wasn’t because I disliked his moustache.
Classic Scene, not directed in script.
As Ruth enters the room and explains she needs a room for a student at the college, Rigsby tries to offer Miss Jones a seat…on the bed, not the settee. He looks rejected when she chooses the settee.
Rigsby: Yes – so was Crippen. Oh, I’m not blaming you, Miss Jones. He looked quite presentable when he arrived. You didn’t know he was going to turn into a flaming werewolf.
Rigsby: Look what happened to your custard creams.
Ruth: We don’t know that was Alan.
Rigsby: Of course it was – he’s always eating.
Ruth: That’s because of his nerves.
Rigbsy: Nerves! Is that what he’s been telling you? There’s nothing wrong with his nerves – you try getting the rent out of him.
Ruth: Oh, no. I’ve only met him briefly but I must say he seems the perfect gentleman.
Rigsby: Well, it’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those – they’re dying breed around here. All we get are Communist infiltrators. All right – send him along.
Rigsby: Should we say 4?
Ruth: That seems very reasonable.
Rigsby: Well, my name’s not Rachman, Miss Jones. I don’t want to make money out of these poor students. I don’t want to be a landlord – I want to be a friend.
Rigsby: God! What a mess. Just look at it. (Peers) You’re not cooking those Surprise peas again? (Surprise was replaced with Dried in the episode. ed.)
Alan: They’re not Surprise peas.
Rigsby: It’s surprising where I keep finding them.
Rigsby: Don’t worry, I’ve seen more of those bleached by the desert sun than you’ve had hot dinners. You should have been there, you wouldn’t think it was so funny then.
Alan: I wasn’t even born then.
Rigsby: What about your father?
Alan: He was in the RAF.
Rigsby: Brylcreem boy!
Alan: He’s bald.
Rigsby: I remember him. Didn’t he have dizzy spells when he was here?
Alan: That was the climb – well, it is high up.
Rigsby: That’s typical – typical of the RAF – none fo them could stand heights. You couldn’t get half of them up a ladder. How we ever won the war I’ll never know. (Stares at skeleton) I’ve seen plenty of these, don’t you worry, but I’m not having one in the house. So get him out.
The scene above was omitted from this episode and used in All our Yesterdays
Re. Arrival of Philip
Alan: At least he’s someone to talk to – and he’s musical. (Picks up fork) Should we give you a tune?
Rigsby: That’s not funny.
At the start of the second half when Rigsby enters Philips room, you can see Leonard start to smile, likely caused by one excitable audience member who was laughing throughout the episode.
Philip: I don’t think I know him
Rigsby No, you wouldn’t. (Evil grin) He only goes out after dark. Take my tip – keep away from him. He’s training to be a Doctor – mixes with sick people all the time. I think he’s a germ carrier.
(Rigsby looks out of the window) Hello – they’re at it again.
Philip: Who are?
Rigsby: Come here. See those curtains twitching? See those shapes moving?
Rigsby: The window opposite. See?
Rigsby: Yes, I think –
Rigsby: The old ladies. If they give you any trouble stick your backside out of the window.
Philip: (Stares) What sort of trouble?
Rigsby: They make rude signs – put their fingers to their noses. Very funny family. (Sharply) Did I mention the rent?
Alan: explains Rigsby, some say he was jilted on his wedding day..
Alan: The other story is that he’s murdered his wife and that he’s got her walled up somewhere – staring at us
Alan leaves Philip alone. Before Ruth enters
An intro set up was noted but not used.
Philip: sighs. Shakes head. Returns to his books. There is a tapping on the wall. Philip groans. Crosses to the wall. Listens. Taps back. He is still listening at the wall when Ruth enters and glides across him.
Philip’s staying and Rigsby wants to get rid of him.
Alan: Rigsby – I keep telling you. We’ve all got to learn to live together –
Rigsby: How can we? Their ways aren’t our ways. They’re different.
Alan: No, they’re not. You’re prejudiced.
Rigsby: No, I’m not.
Re Indian man who Rigsby wouldn’t let back in.
Rigsby All I got left with was the Hindu Guide to Love and that was in Hindustani. Mind you you should see the pictures – no wonder they all look undernourished.
Alan: Don’t you realize, Rigsby, they come from a civilization much older than ours. Take Philip down there. He’s probably more civilized and cultured than we are.
Rigsby: Civilised! Cultured! Have you seen the size of that spear?
Alan: Well, I like him and I happen to believe that black and white should learn to live together. I know he seems distant, but that’s because of people like you, Rigsby.
As Rigsby leaves Philips room, after planting the diphtheria germs, Leonard struggles with the cat, you can hear it scratching the door as it tries to get away.
Line in the TV show but not in the script.
Philip explains about the women in Africa
Philip It’s a medical fact, they get far more excited.
Philip’s about to leave the room after Rigsby’s interference.
Philip (hesitates): I can’t stop here, Rigsby. (Points at Ruth’s wall) I’ll never get any work done.
Rigsby: Mmm. I suppose not. It’s you being the son of a chief. She’s the same about the Prince of Wales.
Philip: I can assure you there’s nothing between us.
Rigsby: No, of course not – she wouldn’t last five minutes in the jungle. She had sunstroke at Bournemouth last year.
Philip: Well, if you’d just return any rent.
Rigsby: (frowns) Now there’s no need to be hasty. There is another room. A very salubrious spot. Get your things.
Alan: What? Thanks, Rigsby, that’s great. (Pause) Wait a minute, you’re not still trying to squeeze him out, are you?
Rigsby: No, I’m trying to squeeze him in.
Alan: Because if you are, I’ll report you. I happen to belive that black and white should learn to live together.
Rigsby: I agree with you –
Rigbsy: I’ve been thinking about what you said. You were right.
Alan: I’m very glad to hear it.
Alan: puts hand on door knob
Rigsby: You’ve left your curlers in.
Rigsby: I wouldn’t go in there with your curlers in.
Alan: stares at him, his suspicions fully aroused. He opens door.
Added line not in script after Alan says he’s not sharing..
Rigsby: Who do you think you are, the Vestal Virgins?
End of show dialogue, as credits roll appears to be ad libbed.
As Rigbsy descends the stairs from the students room, he spies Miss Jones wearing her blue glasses and gestures that she’s wearing them. As he follows her down the second flight of stairs he starts to scratch his backside – ref to Banana Box where he would do this.
All text copyright Eric Chappell.