All Gas and Gaiters
All Gas and Gaiters is a British television ecclesiastical sitcom which aired on BBC1 from 1966 to 1971. It was written by Pauline Devaney and Edwin Apps, a husband-and-wife team who used the pseudonym of "John Wraith" when writing the pilot. All Gas and Gaiters was also broadcast on BBC Radio from 1971 to 1972.
|All Gas and Gaiters|
All Gas and Gaiters DVD
|Created by||Pauline Devaney|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||33 + 1 short|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original release||17 May 1966 –|
17 June 1971
- William Mervyn – Cuthbert Hever, Bishop of St Ogg's
- Robertson Hare – Henry Blunt, the archdeacon
- Derek Nimmo – Mervyn Noote, the Bishop's Chaplain
- John Barron – Lionel Pugh-Critchley, Dean of St Ogg's (pilot, series 1 and 4)
- Ernest Clark – Lionel Pugh-Critchley, Dean of St Ogg's (1968 special, series 2 and 3)
- Joan Sanderson – Grace Pugh-Critchley, the Dean's wife (1970-71)
- Ruth Kettlewell – Grace Pugh-Critchley, the Dean's wife (1967-69)
All Gas and Gaiters, predominantly farcical in nature, was set in the close of the fictional St Ogg's Cathedral and concerned various intrigues and rivalries among the clergy in the Church of England. The bishop was easygoing; his friend the archdeacon was elderly, tippling, and still appreciative of attractive women; and the bishop's chaplain was naïve and accident-prone. Their wish to live a quiet bachelor life was continually threatened by the overbearing dean, who tried to bring by-the-book rule to the cathedral.
The title is a pun, deriving from a comic expression uttered by an eccentric character in Charles Dickens' 1839 novel Nicholas Nickleby, and later used by such writers as P. G. Wodehouse and Powell and Pressburger (spoken in the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp). The phrase "all gas and gaiters" has had different meanings. Sometimes it has been used to mean "a satisfactory state of affairs" and sometimes it has had the meaning of "nonsense". The relevance of this phrase to Anglican clergy is that gaiters (worn over shoes) were part of the traditional dress of bishops and archdeacons.
The series initially aroused some controversy because of its portrayal of senior clergy as bungling incompetents, although some clergy enjoyed it. In the opening credits, St Albans Cathedral was shown as the fictional St Ogg's, but with the twisted spire of Church of St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield added to the central tower. The background to the opening credits was the headmaster's garden of St. Albans School. The name "St. Ogg's" may have been taken from a fictional village in George Eliot's novel The Mill on the Floss.
It proved to be the first of a series of comedies starring Derek Nimmo in similar bumbling clerical roles—(Oh, Brother!, Oh, Father! and Hell's Bells)—but is regarded as the best, partly because of a strong supporting cast (particularly the experienced farceur Robertson Hare as the archdeacon) and partly because it included some elements of gentle satire.
All 11 surviving episodes were released on DVD by DD Home Entertainment in 2004, originally accompanied by a detailed behind-the-scenes booklet, written by Andy Priestner in consultation with the show's writers, Edwin Apps and Pauline Devaney, but later released without. Cinema Club have since bought the DVD rights.
Eight scripts of the lost episodes were published in 2015: All Gas and Gaiters, the Lost Episodes: Tome 1 (ISBN 978-1-910317-02-0): "Only Three Can Play", "The Dean Goes Primitive", "The Bishop Goes To Town", "The Bishop Learns the Facts", "The Bishop is Hospitable", "The Bishop Takes a Holiday", "The Affair at Cookham Lock" and "The Bishop Gives a Shove".
The pilot and first three series were videotaped in black-and-white. The third series was taped in colour, but originally broadcast in monochrome. The fourth and fifth series were made and shown in colour. Only 11 episodes still exist in the archive, owing to the wiping policy of the BBC in this era. Two of the colour episodes from series 5 are preserved as black and white 16mm film recordings only (three earlier episodes were always black and white). Only six colour episodes are preserved in their original colour videotape format.
|The Bishop Rides Again||17 May 1966||part of Comedy Playhouse|
Series 1: 1967
|The Bishop Gets the Sack||31 January 1967|
|The Bishop Meets a Bird||7 February 1967||lost|
|The Bishop Writes a Sermon||14 February 1967||lost|
|The Bishop Sees a Ghost||21 February 1967|
|The Bishop Turns to Crime||28 February 1967||lost|
|Only Three Can Play||7 March 1967||lost|
Series 2: 1967
|The Dean Goes Primitive||24 November 1967||lost|
|The Bishop Gives a Party||1 December 1967||lost|
|The Bishop Gets a Letter||8 December 1967||lost|
|The Bishop Goes to Town||15 December 1967||lost|
|Give a Dog a Bad Name||22 December 1967||lost|
|The Bishop Gives a Shove||29 December 1967||lost|
Series 3: 1969
|The Bishop learns the Facts||8 January 1969||lost|
|The Bishop has a Flutter||15 January 1969||lost|
|The Bishop is Hospitable||22 January 1969||lost|
|The Bishop Pays a Visit||29 January 1969||lost|
|The Bishop takes a Holiday||5 February 1969||lost|
|The Affair at Cookham Lock||12 February 1969||lost|
|The Bishop Keeps his Diary||19 February 1969||lost|
Series 4: 1970
|The Bishop Buys a Car||15 April 1970||lost|
|The Bishop Gains a Reputation||22 April 1970||lost|
|The Bishop Loves His Neighbour||29 April 1970|
|The Bishop Beats the System||6 May 1970|
|The Bishop Buys a Mug||13 May 1970||lost|
|When in Rome||20 May 1970||lost|
|The Bishop Takes Up Business||27 May 1970||lost|
Series 5: 1971
|The Bishop Warms Up||13 May 1971||b/w only; colour copy lost|
|The Bishop Entertains||20 May 1971||b/w only; colour copy lost|
|The Bishop Gives a Present||27 May 1971|
|The Bishop Shows his Loyalty||3 June 1971|
|The Bishop Has a Rest||10 June 1971|
|The Bishop Loses his Chaplain||17 June 1971|
|Series No.||Ep No.||Title||Broadcast||Notes|
|Pilot||The Bishop Rides Again||17/5/1966||Previously lost, found in 2001|
|Series 1||Episode 1||The Bishop Gets The Sack||31/1/1967|
|Series 1||Episode 4||The Bishop Sees A Ghost||21/2/1967|
|Series 4||Episode 3||The Bishop Loves His Neighbour||29/4/1970|
|Series 4||Episode 4||The Bishop Beats the System||6/5/1970|
|Series 5||Episode 1||The Bishop Warms Up||13/5/1971||b/w only; colour copy lost|
|Series 5||Episode 2||The Bishop Entertains||20/5/1971||b/w only; colour copy lost|
|Series 5||Episode 3||The Bishop Gives a Present||27/5/1971|
|Series 5||Episode 4||The Bishop Shows his Loyalty||3/6/1971|
|Series 5||Episode 5||The Bishop Has a Rest||10/6/1971|
|Series 5||Episode 6||The Bishop Loses his Chaplain||17/6/1971|
Christmas Night with the Stars
Christmas Night with the Stars was a programme screened annually on Christmas night, when the top stars of the BBC appeared in short versions of their programmes, typically five to ten minutes long. All Gas and Gaiters appeared once alongside its sitcom spin-off Oh, Brother! in 1968. This telerecording no longer exists in the BBC's film and videotape archives.
Christmas Special: 1968
|25 December 1968||as part of Christmas Night with the Stars|
A radio version of All Gas and Gaiters was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 5 January 1971 to 4 December 1972 for 33 episodes. The radio show used the same cast as the television series with the exception of Derek Nimmo, who left after the first series and was succeeded by Jonathan Cecil. Although seven radio episodes were thought to have been wiped, these were later found and all are available through radio enthusiasts. Some episodes were rebroadcast on BBC 7 in October and November 2006, and again a year later and in early 2009. They continued to be broadcast on the station, now renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra, in August 2011 and again in early 2017.
Series One: 1971
- "The Bishop Rides Again" (5 January 1971)
- "The Bishop Writes a Sermon" (12 January 1971)
- "The Bishop Meets a Bird" (19 January 1971)
- "The Bishop Turns to Crime" (26 January 1971)
- "The Bishop Sees a Ghost" (2 February 1971)
- "Only Three Can Play" (9 February 1971)
- "The Dean Goes Primitive" (16 February 1971)
- "The Bishop Gets a Letter" (23 February 1971)
- "The Bishop Gives a Party" (2 March 1971)
- "The Bishop Goes to Town" (9 March 1971)
- "Give a Dog a Bad Name" (16 March 1971)
- "The Bishop Gives a Shove" (23 March 1971)
- "The Bishop Pays a Visit" (30 March 1971)
Series Two: 1972
- "The Bishop Learns the Facts" (24 July 1972)
- "The Bishop Takes a Holiday" (31 July 1972)
- "The Bishop Buys a Car" (7 August 1972)
- "The Bishop Gets the Sack" (14 August 1972)
- "The Bishop Has a Flutter" (21 August 1972)
- "The Affair at Cookham Lock" (28 August 1972)
- "The Bishop Loves His Neighbour" (4 September 1972)
- "The Bishop Beats the System" (11 September 1972)
- "The Bishop Entertains" (18 September 1972)
- "The Bishop Gains a Reputation" (25 September 1972)
- "The Bishop Buys a Mug" (2 October 1972)
- "The Bishop Loses his Chaplain" (9 October 1972)
- "When In Rome" (16 October 1972)
- "The Bishop Is Hospitable" (23 October 1972)
- "The Bishop Gives a Present" (30 October 1972)
- "The Bishop Takes Up Business" (6 November 1972)
- "The Bishop Keeps his Diary" (13 November 1972)
- "The Bishop Warms Up" (20 November 1972)
- "The Bishop Shows his Loyalty" (27 November 1972)
- "The Bishop Has a Rest" (4 December 1972)
Influence and legacy
In April 2016 the radio drama based on the story behind the making of the series, All Mouth and Trousers by Mark Burgess, was aired by BBC Radio 4. The production featured John Sessions as Frank Muir, Nicholas Boulton as Stuart Allen, Gareth Williams as William Mervyn, Trevor Littledale as Robertson Hare, Zeb Soanes as Derek Nimmo and David Collings as John Barron.
- "World Wide Words: Gas and gaiters". World Wide Words. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- Sangster and Condon TV Heaven.
- "All Gas and Gaiters, the Lost episodes". www.durpey-allen.co.uk. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- "TVBrain | Kaleidoscope | Lost shows | TV Archive | TV History". www.tvbrain.info. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- "All Mouth and Trousers, Drama - BBC Radio 4". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2017.