The Gaffer - Series 1 DVD

Sunday, 16 August 2009 14:47

Fred Moffatt (Bill Maynard) plays a tight-fisted yet quick-thinking director of a small light-engineering firm, in this cleverly scripted, bittersweet sitcom. It’s a timely DVD release, as back in 1981 the recession was also biting, and The Gaffer finds himself under siege from the taxman, his creditors, his bank manager… and just about everyone else. He sometimes resorts to extreme measures to keep his head above water, and is permanently at odds with militant shop steward Harry (Russell Hunter – ‘Lonely’ from Callan). But glamorous secretary Betty (Pat Ashton – often seen on The Benny Hill Show) is always around to lighten the mood - even if she rarely succeeds in getting Harry and Fred to see eye-to-eye.

Maynard's character in The Gaffer was very different from the bumbling Selwyn. Moffatt is a survivor, or at least does everything he can to make sure he is. Bearded, wearing a battered hat and a crumpled suit, his white Rover 2000 is a rusting deathtrap that features heavily in the opening credits.  The theme is terrific, and somewhere in Cult TV Towers I know that the 7” picture cover single still lurks.  It’s a great track, and a shame it wasn’t a hit!

The Gaffer Series 1 DVDAfter much success for Maynard with Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt!, where he played a council labourer keen on bettering himself, there was a decision made to transplant the Froggitt character into a new format, with the series changing name to Selwyn.  The previous format owed much to its regular writer Alan Plater, but the new format lost this aspect, as well as the popular supporting cast of characters. Froggitt became entertainments manager at a seedy holiday camp, and his previous audience decided not to join him. Therefore, there was a lot riding on The Gaffer for Maynard, as he couldn’t be left with another flo0p on his CV.

The format’s background accurately reflected the precarious condition of many small businesses of the time, and this added a dark undercurrent to the comedy. Unlike the physical comedy of Oh No … and Selwyn, the scripts for The Gaffer are keen on wordplay and heavy in sarcasm. The plots are relatively complex for sit-coms of the time - Moffatt was shown to be able to outwit at least some of the people who were chasing him for money.

Running for three seasons under the banner of Yorkshire Television, the final series saw Moffatt elected to the council, turning his struggles to the bear-pit of local politics. Disgruntled with the losing battles he was fighting, by the end of the season Moffatt decided to beat a retreat, sold off the business and fled to Australia for new challenges.

THE GAFFER – THE COMPLETE FIRST SERIES (PG), is out now from Network DVD with a running time of 150 mins approx, and a RRP £12.99, or less from



Bill Maynard as Fred Moffatt

Pat Ashton as Betty

Russell Hunter as Harry

David Gillies as Ginger

Don Crann as Charlie


Director: Alan Tarrant

Writer: Graham White


1.01 - All in a Day’s Strike

The Gaffer needs to engineer a strike in order to win a new order!

Original ITV Transmission: 9 January 1981


1.02 - A Seat on the Board

The Gaffer’s locked into battle with shop steward Harry again.

Original ITV Transmission: 16 January 1981


1.03 - Albert

Betty gets her cousin Albert a job with the Gaffer, but he’s not an ideal employee… 

Original ITV Transmission: 23 January 1981


1.04 - Dear Old Pals

An old army pal comes to work for the Gaffer, but his approach doesn’t prove popular.

Original ITV Transmission: 30 January 1981


1.05 - The Trouble with Women

When it comes to women in the factory, the Gaffer has issues…

Original ITV Transmission: 6 February 1981


1.06- England Exports

The Gaffer’s attempts to boost overseas sales don’t meet with everyone’s approval.

Original ITV Transmission: 13 February 1981



Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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