Keep It In The Family DVD 1

Sunday, 17 October 2010 14:43

I remember this series from its original transmission at the dawn of the 1980s. It has that silly style of farcical humour that comes from vaudeville routes, and with situations that spiral out of control due to a lack of communication and people trying to hide secrets or hoping to shepherd people into a certain course of actions that are not necessarily for their own benefit.  It’s one of those rarities – a funny ITV sitcom that will have you smiling if not hooting right out loud.

Robert Gillespie stars as Dudley, the father of the family – a struggling comic artist, famed for ‘Barney - The Bionic Bulldog’.  He is known for dramatic roles such as Naylor in Freewheelers, and Sam Mead in Survivors, but this is probably his finest character.  ‘Dudley’ channels the spirit of Groucho Marx in his approach to life, fused with some of the type of clowning you’d associate with Peter Sellers, and the occasional hopelessness of Tony Hancock.  It’s no wonder that he was the pivotal reason for this series running for five seasons.

Keep It In The Family - Series 1 comes to DVDThe production came from Thames Television and focuses on Dudley and his wife Muriel Rush (played by Pauline Yates, who previously played Reggie Perrin’s wife in the Leonard Rossiter incarnation of the character).

The series begins with their daughters, Jacqui and Susan, having a hankering for freedom from still living in the family home.  The solution could be nearer to home than they thought – the ground floor that has been converted into a separate flat has become available. Dudley’s not keen on that option, but subterfuge by the daughters means he becomes convinced that this is the best option from many that have been rigged to come his way.

Stacy Dorning cemented her credentials as ‘uberbabe’ in the role of daughter Susan, after graduating from The Adventures of Black Beauty, via a pneumatic guest role in “The Exiles”, a season two episode of Space: 1999. Interestingly, she’s the daughter of renowned actor Robert Dorning, and co-starring with her in Keep It In The Family as Jacqui was another daughter of acting aristocracy – Jenny Quayle, daughter of Anthony Quayle. Jenny decided to bail out after two seasons, and her role was taken by another daughter with acting lineage – Sabina Franklyn, daughter of William Franklyn, who played Eve Wilson in Coronation Street recently.  Funny how these things pan out.

Dudley is a gifted cartoonist but an inveterate procrastinator with a fondness for practical jokes, who finds it hard to concentrate amid an ever-increasing number of distractions – to the despair of his long-suffering agent, Duncan (played by Glyn Houston in the sort of role he became famous for playing).

Keep It in the Family was created by sitcom veteran Brian Cooke, who with writing partner Johnnie Mortimer, created the likes of Man About the House, George and Mildred and Robin’s Nest. So, the credentials for this series are in place, and this marks the first ever commercial release of the show.

It’s something of a lost gem this, and with it running from 1980 to 1983 it’s a surprise, in hindsight, that it’s disappeared so spectacularly off the classic sitcom radar.  It’s actually aged quite well, and is enjoyable, save for a couple of scenes which may raise eyebrows – one being the two daughters in their underwear fooling around in the bathroom while Dudley tries to have a quiet soak, and guest star Roy Kinnear coming out with a Tourette syndrome-style racist outburst in his episode.

Keep It In The Family – The Complete Series 1 is out now from Network DVD, with a running time of 150 minutes approx, a ‘12’ certificate, and a RRP of £12.99 – or get it for less at


Keep It In The Family – Season 1 Episode Guide

Robert Gillespie as Dudley Rush      

Pauline Yates as Muriel Rush (seasons 1-4)

Stacy Dorning as Susan Rush

Jenny Quayle as Jacqui Rush (seasons 1-2)


Writer: Brian Cooke

Producer & Director: Mark Stuart


01.  Downs and Ups

The self-contained ground floor flat at 33 Highgate Avenue becomes vacant when the Rush family's tenant, elderly Arthur Fenston, dies. After the funeral his relatives arrive to pick it clean of his possessions. While Jacqui and Susan plan a party, father Dudley sets his mind to finding a new tenant. With a little help from their friends, the daughters hatch a plot to secure the flat for themselves.

Guest Starring: Cass Allen (Violet), Rowland Davies (Artist), Keith James (Neville), Andrew King (Toni), Neil McCarthy (Sidney), Christina Nagy (Miss Whiplash), Christine Shaw (Rachel), Raymond Skipp (Policeman), Giles Watling (Young Man).

Original ITV Transmission: 7 January 1980


02. One of Those Days

Dudley helps his daughters get an old black and white TV from the loft, picking up a glove puppet and a guitar in the process. Dudley's editor, Duncan, arrives to find out why he’s two weeks behind with his artwork.

Guest Starring: Glyn Houston (Duncan Thomas).

Original ITV Transmission: 14 January 1980


03. All Through the Night

Dudley decides to learn Japanese, the printers for ‘The Wowser’ decide to go on strike, and Duncan arrives to ask Dudley to rush through three pages of Barney the Bionic Bulldog in order to have art ‘in hand’ for future issues. However, Dudley has jury service at the Old Bailey, so he burns the midnight oil. He ends up bleary-eyed on a jury trying an intruder, but risks contempt of court when he falls asleep.

Guest Starring: Glyn Houston (Duncan Thomas), Norman Atkyns (Clerk of the Court), Pat Coombs (Miss Petty), Anna Dawson (Woman Juror), Burt Kwouk (Japanese Juror), Clifford Mollison (Judge).

Original ITV Transmission: 21 January 1980


04.  The Non-Mechanical Man

The ‘ever-present pooh bird of fate’ is circling the Rush household, and their car requires maintenance to the tune of £80. Muriel is fined for speeding and Dudley dismantles the washing-machine, and then the TV, fridge, radio and iron break down in sympathy. Susan wants to get rid of boyfriend, Sid Foster, who could be the cure to the family's electrical problems.

Guest Starring: Derek Francis (Bank Manager), Mike Grady (Sid Foster), Christina Nagy (Angela Jones), Madoline Thomas (Woman at the Bank).

Original ITV Transmission: 28 January 1980


05. Some Enchanted Evening

Muriel's scheme to get Dudley to mow the lawn backfires, and he’s more keen to rekindle their romance by booking a table at The Candlelight Room. Royston Higson, area manager for a ladies' underwear firm, gets the wrong end of the stick when Jacqui and Susan unexpectedly join them at the restaurant.

Guest Starring: Roy Kinnear (Royston Higson), Steve Plytas (Restaurant Manager).

Original ITV Transmission: 4 February 1980


06. A Friend in Need

Susan pigs out on food, while Muriel arranges to travel to Bournemouth to celebrate her sister Sarah's birthday. An old friend of Dudley's, insurance salesman Dick Mitchell, has come down from Birmingham for a few days, and arranges for dinner at The White Cockatoo, in the company of Mimi and Barbara.  Muriel’s sister phones to the children have mumps, so postpones her visit. Dick, meanwhile, insists on taking the girls back to Dudley's.

Guest Starring: Sue Bond (Mimi), Julian Holloway (Dick Mitchell), Rosanne Wickes (Barbara), Steve Fideli (Alphonse).

Original ITV Transmission: 11 February 1980

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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