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.
|Written by||Simon Brett|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||38|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Thames Television|
|Original release||4 January 1988 –|
24 August 1992
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.
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.
|1||1||The Older Man||4 January 1988|
|2||Phone Calls||11 January 1988|
|3||The Teapot||18 January 1988|
|4||Security||25 January 1988|
|5||Romantic Complications||1 February 1988|
|6||The Birthday||8 February 1988|
|Special||1||A Quiet Christmas||26 December 1988|
|2||1||Intellectual Aspirations||10 January 1989|
|2||Open Secrets||17 January 1989|
|3||Memory Games||24 January 1989|
|4||The Cold||31 January 1989|
|5||Wedding Bells||7 February 1989|
|6||Lines Of Communication (a.k.a. Crossed Wires)||28 February 1989|
|7||Gossip||7 March 1989|
|8||Out On A Limb||14 March 1989|
|9||Upstagers||21 March 1989|
|10||Idle Speculation||28 March 1989|
|11||Efficiency||4 April 1989|
|12||Going Away (a.k.a. Situations Vacant)||11 April 1989|
|Special||2||A Week Of Sundays||25 December 1989|
|3||1||Mr Right||23 January 1990|
|2||Curiosity||30 January 1990|
|3||Home Comforts||6 February 1990|
|4||Relative Movement||13 February 1990|
|5||The Dinner Party (a.k.a. The Party)||20 February 1990|
|6||Mr Fixit||27 February 1990|
|7||Charity||6 March 1990|
|8||The Mysterious Affair At Bygone Books||13 March 1990|
|9||Party Politics||20 March 1990|
|10||Unforeseen Circumstances (a.k.a. Out of the Blue)||27 March 1990|
|11||Family Album||3 April 1990|
|12||Last Chances (a.k.a. Final Chance)||17 April 1990|
|4||1||Dependent Relatives||20 July 1992|
|2||Poor Relations||27 July 1992|
|3||A Fully Extended Family||3 August 1992|
|4||Yes And No||10 August 1992|
|5||The Married Man||17 August 1992|
|6||The Other Married Man||24 August 1992|
All four series including a 6-Disc set of the complete series have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2).
|The Complete Series 1||10 March 2008|
|The Complete Series 2||28 January 2009|
|The Complete Series 3||20 April 2009|
|The Complete Series 4||22 June 2009|
|The Complete Series 1 to 4 Box Set||2 November 2009|
- Mark Lewisohn, "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy", BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003