Keep It In The Family Series 5

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 00:00
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Keep It In The Family - the final series out nowReleased at last is the fifth and final season of this Thames TV comedy starring Robert Gillespie as cartoonist Dudley Rush, with Mixed Doubles’ Sabina Franklyn and The Adventures of Black Beauty’s Stacy Dorning as daughters Jacqui and Susan. The format is thrown into disarray immediately, as Dudley and the girls have to fend for themselves, as matriarch Muriel is apparently ‘in Australia visiting her mother’ (i.e., actress Pauline Yates was unavailable to reprise the role).

Jacqui and Susan still occupy the family home’s basement flat, and for the first couple of episodes Dudley is portrayed as rather pathetic, unable to cope on his own, and becoming terribly unlikable – it’s hard to think this is the same character we had been cheering for in four previous seasons, honing his skills as an unflinching procrastinator, ever-distracted from the job in hand, and the source of inevitable despair for his boss, Duncan Thomas (Glyn Houston).

This final series sees Jacqui start a new job, while Susan takes none too kindly to her efforts to look after her father being undermined by her lack of culinary skills – again, another strike against Dudley’s behaviour early in this run of episodes. Eventually, Dudley busies himself by converting the loft into an attic studio which, due to one of his schemes backfiring, suddenly becomes Duncan’s temporary residence.

Anita Graham is back as occasional guest star Wilma, Duncan’s secretary with the shady past and unflinching passion for everything she does, and everyone she encounters. Anita has gone on to be a stalwart of Ray Cooney’s theatrical farces, and was even a series regular in the BBC’s Moon and Son, playing Zelda Lee. Doctor Who fans will recall her role as Bollitt in the Sylvester McCoy story “Delta and the Bannermen”.

Dudley still continues to ink ‘Barney - The Bionic Bulldog’, although he is sometimes tempted by other projects and the money they might bring in. The quality of episodes finally turns skywards halfway through the run, in particular with “That Old Black Magic” which sees Dudley buy a book of spells, and the final episode “A Touch of the Orient” where the whole family band together to create a Chinese Restaurant in a local Hall, so that Duncan can impress a visiting client interested in syndication rights for ‘Barney’.

The writers of this final series were Dave and Greg Freeman, who had previously worked together on episodes of Terry and June (the show was created by Brian Cooke, of Man About the House, George and Mildred and Robin’s Nest fame).

Guest stars to look out for include Sheila Steafel, Sue Nicholls, Anna Bergman, Stefan Gryff, John Carlin, Royce Mills and David Neville.

All in all, despite losing one of its stars, the format eventually came to terms with the need to reinvent itself, although the character arc for Dudley was a warning of what NOT to do with a lead role, by making it totally unsympathetic – something that would be emulated in a similarly disastrous way when Colin Baker initially took over the role of Doctor Who.  That said, the last two episodes ever of Keep It in The Family, on their own, make this DVD an essential purchase.

Keep It In The Family – The Complete Series 5 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

Last modified on Friday, 05 July 2013 13:04

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