Babes in the Wood (TV series)

Babes in the Wood is a British sitcom that aired on ITV from 1998 to 1999. Starring Karl Howman and Denise van Outen, Babes in the Wood was written by Geoff Deane, Paul Alexander, Simon Braithwaite, Ian Searle and Fleur Costello.[1]

Babes in the Wood
Opening titles of Babes in the Wood
StarringKarl Howman
Denise van Outen
Natalie Walter
Samantha Janus
Madeleine Curtis
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes14
Running time13x30 minutes
1x45 minutes
Original networkITV
Original release23 July 1998 
3 September 1999


  • Denise van Outen - Leigh Jackson
  • Natalie Walter - Caralyn Monroe/Munroe
  • Karl Howman - Charlie Lovall
  • Mark Hayford - Benito
  • Samantha Janus - Ruth Ford/Frause (series 1 and 1998 special)
  • Madeleine Curtis - Francesca "Frankie" Fraiser-Jones (series 2)
  • James Buller - Nick (series 2)


Babes in the Wood revolves around three women in their 20s who share a flat in St John's Wood in London. Leigh is streetwise and tough, while Ruth is bossy and Caralyn is ditzy. In the flat next door lives Charlie Lovall, the former owner of a video shop whose divorce has cost him dearly, although he still has his Porsche. Leigh works as a waitress for public school-educated Benito at the nearby Bar Coda. Ruth marries an old millionaire and leaves after the first series and is replaced by would be model Frankie.


The show took a long time to get to the screen: it was in production for five years, with an unbroadcast pilot and a long casting process. The creator and writer was Geoff Deane, an alumnus of Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran's TV comedy, and it was produced by Lucky Dog, the company founded by Deane and producer Kenton Allen.[2]

The show faced high expectations on its launch, due to the contemporary lack of good-quality mainstream British comedy and ITV's desire for a big hit. It was intended to rival the American show Friends,[3] and ITV showed their confidence by ordering a Christmas special before the first series was broadcast.[2]

Critical reaction

Maggie Brown found it funny though a bit contrived and possibly unrealistic in its portrayal of the girls' living arrangements. She praised Van Outen's repartee with Hayford.[2] Other reactions were less favourable. The Times called it "very shoddy".[4] The Rough Guide to British Cult Comedy called it "hackneyed".[5] The Daily Mirror was highly critical of Claire King's guest appearance.[6]

In an overview of ITV programmes, Stuart Heritage named Babes in the Wood as one of the worst shows in the network's history. He described Babes in the Wood "a show where some babes live in St John’s Wood and literally nothing else happens"[7]


Series one (1998)

  1. Episode One (23 July 1998)
  2. Episode Two (30 July 1998)
  3. Episode Three (6 August 1998)
  4. Episode Four (13 August 1998)
  5. Episode Five (20 August 1998)
  6. Episode Six (27 August 1998)

Christmas special (1998)

  • Christmas Special (45 minutes) (30 December 1998)

Series two (1999)

  1. Episode One (13 July 1999)
  2. Episode Two (20 July 1999)
  3. Episode Three (27 July 1999)
  4. Episode Four (3 August 1999)
  5. Episode Five (10 August 1999)
  6. Episode Six (17 August 1999)
  7. Episode Seven (24 August 1999)


  1. Guilty Crushes. "Now women are behaving badly too - National News". Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  2. Brown, Maggie (20 July 1998). "Girls will be Babes". Guardian. p. C6.
  3. "Carlton starts sponsor talks for new sitcom". Marketing Week: 12. 28 May 1998.
  4. "Carry on Denise - Interview". The Times. 11 September 1999. p. Times Magazine 16.
  5. Hall, Julian (2006). The Rough Guide to British Cult Comedy. Rough Guides. pp. 131.
  6. Purnell, Tony (25 August 1999). "LAST NIGHT'S VIEW". Daily Mirror (UK). p. 24.
  7. "Brideshead Revisited or Celebrity Wrestling: the best and worst of ITV" The Guardian, 22 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
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