After Henry (TV series)

After Henry is a British sitcom that aired on ITV from 1988 to 1992. Starring Prunella Scales and Joan Sanderson, it had started on BBC Radio 4 in 1985, finishing in 1989. It was written by Simon Brett. After Henry was made for the ITV network by Thames Television.

After Henry
Written bySimon Brett
StarringPrunella Scales
Joan Sanderson
Janine Wood
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series4
No. of episodes38
Producer(s)Peter Frazer-Jones
Bill Shepherd
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Thames Television
Original networkITV
Original release4 January 1988 (1988-01-04) 
24 August 1992 (1992-08-24)

The BBC was reluctant to produce After Henry for television, so in 1988 after the third radio series Thames Television did so. The show was surprisingly popular, attracting over 14 million viewers. A second television series was shown during the same months as the fourth radio series with, in many cases, both radio and television episodes being broadcast on the same nights. The fourth television series was broadcast from July 1992, after the death of Joan Sanderson, who had died on 24 May.



Sarah France is the 42-year-old widow of a GP, Henry. She lives in an often volatile family situation with her elderly mother, Eleanor Prescott, and her daughter, eighteen-year-old Clare France, with both of whom she shares a house. After Henry's death, all three members of the family have to find a way to cope with each other as best they can.

Sarah often finds herself in the middle of things, usually figuratively, but always literally, given that she has her daughter living upstairs and her mother in the basement flat. [In the radio series it was the mother who lived upstairs and the daughter downstairs.] Eleanor is ruthlessly cunning and takes every opportunity to get one over on Sarah. Anything told to Eleanor will spread by word of mouth throughout an extensive network of the elderly of the area, or the "geriatric mafia". Clare is trying to be independent of her mother, though often has to come running back in times of crisis.

The relationships between the three women change constantly through each episode. Sometimes mother and daughter ally against grandmother, sometimes mother and grandmother go against daughter, but usually grandmother and granddaughter gang up on the long-suffering Sarah, whose one haven is Bygone Books, the remarkably unsuccessful second-hand bookshop where she works for Russell, who dispenses in turn sympathy and wisdom. Most of the time, Russell sees the women's relationships second-hand through Sarah, although he isn't opposed to taking the occasional more active role when necessary. In turn, Sarah can see some of Russell's difficulties of living with a gay partner in 1980s London suburbia, while at the same time seeing Russell's relationship as the one perfect marriage she knows.

The adaptation for television allowed more to be seen of some of the more minor characters in the radio series, with appearances by some who had appeared only by reputation on the radio. These included Eleanor's best friend and rival Vera Poling, and Valerie Brown on the pension counter's sister Mary. In the television adaptation, Sarah also gained an on-off partner in Sam Greenland.

Many of the exterior locations for the TV series were shot in the village of Thames Ditton in Surrey and Twickenham.

Encouraged by the success of the transfer from radio to television, in 1991 Simon Brett began writing a stage play version, with intention of both Scales and Sanderson continuing to play their roles, and the option of different actresses to portray Clare. The production was planned as a three hander comedy-of-errors across the generation gaps, but the idea was dropped following the death of Sanderson in 1992, with Brett feeling that the part could not be replicated by anyone else.


Note that on several occasions, episodes would be billed with different titles in the TV Times to the on-screen episode title; these alternative episode titles originate from the working title on production scripts, before the final episode title had been decided.

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst broadcast
11The Older Man4 January 1988
2Phone Calls11 January 1988
3The Teapot18 January 1988
4Security25 January 1988
5Romantic Complications1 February 1988
6The Birthday8 February 1988
Special1A Quiet Christmas26 December 1988
21Intellectual Aspirations10 January 1989
2Open Secrets17 January 1989
3Memory Games24 January 1989
4The Cold31 January 1989
5Wedding Bells7 February 1989
6Lines Of Communication (a.k.a. Crossed Wires)28 February 1989
7Gossip7 March 1989
8Out On A Limb14 March 1989
9Upstagers21 March 1989
10Idle Speculation28 March 1989
11Efficiency4 April 1989
12Going Away (a.k.a. Situations Vacant)11 April 1989
Special2A Week Of Sundays25 December 1989
31Mr Right23 January 1990
2Curiosity30 January 1990
3Home Comforts6 February 1990
4Relative Movement13 February 1990
5The Dinner Party (a.k.a. The Party)20 February 1990
6Mr Fixit27 February 1990
7Charity6 March 1990
8The Mysterious Affair At Bygone Books13 March 1990
9Party Politics20 March 1990
10Unforeseen Circumstances (a.k.a. Out of the Blue)27 March 1990
11Family Album3 April 1990
12Last Chances (a.k.a. Final Chance)17 April 1990
41Dependent Relatives20 July 1992
2Poor Relations27 July 1992
3A Fully Extended Family3 August 1992
4Yes And No10 August 1992
5The Married Man17 August 1992
6The Other Married Man24 August 1992

DVD releases

All four series including a 6-Disc set of the complete series have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2).

DVDRelease date
The Complete Series 110 March 2008
The Complete Series 228 January 2009
The Complete Series 320 April 2009
The Complete Series 422 June 2009
The Complete Series 1 to 4 Box Set2 November 2009


  • Mark Lewisohn, "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy", BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003
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