After Henry (radio series)

After Henry is a British sitcom written by Simon Brett. It started on BBC Radio 4 and later moved to television. Prunella Scales and Joan Sanderson starred in both radio and television versions.

After Henry
Cover of the After Henry novel
GenreSituation comedy
Running time30 minutes
Country of origin United Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
TV adaptationsAfter Henry
StarringPrunella Scales
Joan Sanderson
Benjamin Whitrow
Gerry Cowper
Created bySimon Brett
Written bySimon Brett
Produced byPete Atkin
Original release17 April 1985 – 6 March 1989
No. of series4
No. of episodes34
Audio formatStereophonic sound
Opening themeThree-Quarter Blues, George Gershwin
Ending themeImpromptu in Two Keys, George Gershwin
WebsiteBBC Comedy Entry

A novel, also by Simon Brett, followed the series.[1]



Sarah France is the 42-year-old widow of a GP, Henry. She lives in an often volatile family situation with her mother, Eleanor Prescott, and her daughter, eighteen-year-old Clare France. After Henry's death, the three generations of women have to cope with one another as best they can, under their shared roof.

Sarah often finds herself in the middle of things, usually figuratively but always literally, as her mother lives upstairs and her daughter has the downstairs flat. Eleanor, ruthlessly cunning and emotionally manipulative, takes every opportunity to get one over on Sarah. Anything told to Eleanor will spread quickly throughout the extensive "geriatric mafia", the elderly of the area. Clare is trying to be independent of her mother, though often has to come running back in times of crisis.

The relationships among 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.

Episode list

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst broadcast
11The Older Man17 April 1985
2Moving24 April 1985
3The Cowboy1 May 1985
4The Dinner Party8 May 1985
5Gossip15 May 1985
6Mr Right22 May 1985
7The Spectre at the Feast29 May 1985
8Going Away5 June 1985
Special1A Week of Sundays22 December 1985
21Memory Games16 August 1986
2The Romantic Approach23 August 1986
3The Cold30 August 1986
4Bedside Manners6 September 1986
5The Kitten13 September 1986
6The Married Man20 September 1986
7The Other Married Man27 September 1986
8The Teapot4 October 1986
31Wedding Bells22 September 1987
2Poor Relations29 September 1987
3Guilty Secrets6 October 1987
4Lines of Communications13 October 1987
5Intellectual Aspirations20 October 1987
6A Box of Chocolates27 October 1987
7Different Viewpoints3 November 1987
8The End of a Chapter10 November 1987
Special2The Season of Relative Goodwill25 December 1987
41Dependent Relatives17 January 1989
2Relative Movement24 January 1989
3A Fully Extended Family31 January 1989
4Sunday Lunch7 February 1989
5Little Women14 February 1989
6Family Album21 February 1989
7Keeping Faith28 February 1989
8Positive Thinking6 March 1989

Transfer to television

The BBC was reluctant to produce After Henry for television, so in 1988 after the third radio series Thames Television did so. Prunella Scales and Joan Sanderson returned as Sarah and Eleanor, but Gerry Cowper was, at the age of 30, considered too old to play Clare and replaced by Janine Wood. The show was 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.


  1. ISBN 0-670-81732-5 hardback, ISBN 0-14-010161-6 paperback
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