My Hero (British TV series)
My Hero is a British television sitcom, written and created by Paul Mendelson, that broadcast for six series on the BBC between 2000 and 2006. The series follows the everyday adventures of a dim-witted Ultronian superhero known as "Thermoman", portrayed by Ardal O'Hanlon, and his human wife, Janet, played by Emily Joyce. "Thermoman" is a multi-powered superhero who originates from the planet Ultron. In an attempt to do his best to fit in with life on earth, he creates the human alias of George Sunday. However, due to his unfamiliarity with human life, his antics usually lead to many misunderstandings. Although Thermoman is intrinsically very intelligent, his problem understanding earthly customs makes him look like an idiot to people who do not know who he really is.
|Created by||Paul Mendelson|
|Written by||Paul Mayhew-Archer|
|Directed by||John Stroud|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||51 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Geoffrey Perkins|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Big Bear Films|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Picture format||16:9 (576i)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||4 February 2000 –|
10 September 2006
In 2006, O'Hanlon announced he was stepping down from his role as George Sunday. Following this decision, James Dreyfus was cast as an alter-ego of "Thermoman" for the sixth and final series. Although the series gathered consistent viewing figures, figures declined heavily following the appointment of Dreyfus, whose casting was deemed as "Doctor Who-esque" by Broadcast Magazine, and the series was subsequently axed.
Across six series, fifty-one episodes were broadcast. The series was written by a team of writers, a trait that is typical of most American sitcoms. The main team of writers for each series included writer and creator Paul Mendelson, Paul Mayhew-Archer, Paul Alexander, James Cary, Simon Braithwaite, Gary Lawson, John Phelps, Ian Brown and James Hendrie. All fifty-one episodes were directed by John Stroud and filmed in front of a live audience at Teddington Studios in London. Location footage was often filmed in Pinner, London. Each series featured a varying number of episodes, with the first and second series containing six episodes, series three through five containing ten episodes each and series six containing eight episodes. The first series also included an additional Christmas Special. Some of the episode titles are a play on the titles of famous novels and movies; for example, How Green Was My Ollie is a pun on the novel How Green Was My Valley, and The First Husbands Club is a pun on the movie The First Wives Club.
The series is regularly repeated on Gold in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the series was shown on PBS and, briefly, BBC America. In Australia, UKTV offered re-runs of the first three series, while BBC Entertainment provided repeats for Scandinavia. Three of the six series have been released on DVD; two on Region 1 DVD and one on Region 2. Fans have since petitioned the BBC to release the complete series on DVD.
- Ardal O'Hanlon as George Sunday AKA "Thermoman" (Series 1—5)
- James Dreyfus as George Monday AKA "Thermoman" (Series 6)
- Emily Joyce as Janet Dawkins; George's wife
- Lill Roughley as Ella Dawkins; Janet's mother
- Tim Wylton as Stanley Dawkins; Janet's father
- Lou Hirsch as Arnie Kowalski; George's cousin
- Hugh Dennis as Dr. Piers Crispin; GP for Northolt
- Geraldine McNulty as Mrs. Raven; GP's receptionist
- Philip Whitchurch as Tyler; the Sundays' next-door neighbour
- Moya Brady as Avril; an assistant in George's shop (Series 1)
- Pat Kelman as the Ultron Postie; a postman from Ultron (Series 3—6)
- Finlay Stroud as Apollo "Ollie" Sunday; George and Janet's son (Series 2—6)
- Madeline Mortimer as Cassandra "Cassie" Sunday; George and Janet's daughter (Series 5—6)
George Eamonn Sunday (Ardal O'Hanlon) is an mild-mannered Irish health store shopkeeper, who is the alter ego of "Thermoman", a world-famous superhero who hails from the planet Ultron. He inherited his title from his father Seamus Sunday, the original Thermoman, who is retired. George owns a health food store, but tries to avoid attracting customers in order to avoid attention. Only his closest friends know his true identity. He often appears to be an idiot because of his unfamiliarity with Earth culture, and has a tendency to take things literally, such as allowing himself to get hit by a bus to cash in a life insurance policy without realising that he had to die. In the sixth series, he loses his body in a poker game, forcing him to assume a new alter ego, "George Monday". George's late mother was Ulrich Sunday.
Thermoman has numerous abilities. He is able to both heat and freeze things with "Thermobreath", and smash things easily with super strength. The latter is also a weakness, being uncontrollable when he is tired. Other powers include flight, superspeed, X-ray vision, resurrection of the dead, time travel and an ability to smell natural disasters and crimes taking place anywhere in the world. "Invulnerability" allows Thermoman to cut off parts of his own body, such as his own head, and then replace it. However, this invincibility is only effective when Thermoman believes he is invincible. In one episode, he begins to doubt his ability and thus temporarily loses this power, gaining unwanted and uncontrollable invisibility instead. Invisibility occurs when he is afraid, and the amount of parts of his body that turn invisible depend on how frightened he is. Thermoman can control minds and erase memories by putting his finger to their foreheads, and by giving them a "thermoblast". "Total erasure" is achieved by staring at a person, with the side effect of causing them to lose their hair.
"Thermowelding" is the ability to weld a person's mouth shut; "Zip-it!" is a safer way of silencing people using a zipper; "Interspecies Interpreter", which allows Thermoman to communicate with animals excluding dung beetles; and "Miracle Spit", which is used to make plants grow quickly. As well as all of these powers, Thermoman on multiple occasions, orders additional trial powers from the magazine Superhero Monthly. Other psychic powers include picking lottery numbers before seeing them on television via a series of quick mental calculations he can carry out automatically - although he is forbidden by Ultronian law to use this information. He can also turn the television on and off and rewind it just by waving his finger.
After losing his body in a poker game, George adopts the new pseudonym George Monday (James Dreyfus), who blends in to the local community by posing as a doctor at Northolt Health Centre, where he is hired by Dr. Piers Crispin (Hugh Dennis). Janet introduces Monday to her friends and parents as her new lodger, however rumour soon begins to spread that she is in a relationship with Monday, and that she has murdered her husband.
Janet Dawkins (Emily Joyce) is a nurse at the Northolt Health Centre. She first meets Thermoman when he rescues her from death, after she falls into the Grand Canyon whilst on holiday. She subsequently begins to date George Sunday, unaware that he is in fact Thermoman until after their first date. Although she loves George, she is frequently exasperated and confused by his behaviour.
Janet and George marry at the end of the second series, which also sees the birth of their first child, Apollo "Ollie" Sunday. Janet and George also have a daughter, Cassandra "Cassie" Sunday, who is born at the start of series five. Her mother, Ella, disapproves of her marriage to George, and often asks her to get rid of him and marry Piers instead. Janet is friends with health centre receptionist Mrs. Raven, while her boss, Piers Crispin, displays an obvious crush on her.
Apollo "Ollie" Sunday
Apollo "Ollie" Sunday (voiced by Finlay Stroud) is the son of George and Janet. He is born at the end of series two, and, like his father, possesses superhuman powers, although they are somewhat limited. The name "Apollo" was chosen by Ollie himself during a conversation with Tyler, and is meant to symbolise the link between two "heavenly bodies" (either Apollo 11 or Battlestar Galactica). George originally wants to name him Pontius after Pontius Pilate, and Janet opted for Benjamin, until Tyler informed them that Ollie did not like either name. Despite being a baby, Ollie speaks fluent English and has a full set of formed teeth. By the fifth series, Ollie claims to know virtually all Earth languages. During this series, his character takes more of a back seat as he fights sibling rivalry wars with his newborn sister Cassie.
Cassandra "Cassie" Sunday
Cassandra "Cassie" Sunday (voiced by Madeline Mortimer) is the newest member of the Sunday family, born at the beginning of the fifth series. Her only superpower is that she can see into the future. This proved to be of little use, however, when she informs George that the population of the whole Northern Hemisphere is dead, forcing everyone to flock to Australia. However, it is soon established that she cannot distinguish between someone being asleep or dead.
Dr. Piers Crispin (Hugh Dennis) is the local GP at Northholt health centre, who also works as a television personality and is Janet's boss. He is often portrayed as being more interested in his public image than in his patients' welfare. He is widely known for his catchphrase "I am always here" and often describes himself as "Britain's Favourite TV Doctor", after winning the Best Daytime TV Doctor award in 1996. In an attempt to boost his image, Piers tries schemes such as releasing his own health drink, sponsoring a photogenic tiger cub in Bangladesh, writing a book, supporting a healthy eating campaign in schools, and even appearing on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!. He is also captain of the local cricket team, having been a former professional player before giving up to become a doctor. Despite being a qualified doctor, Piers once admitted he did not know where babies come from.
Piers once revealed to Janet that he faked his A-Level results to get into medical school,a and is more concerned with his television career than anything else, quoting that he "will jump onto any bandwagon to prolong it". It is later revealed that his attitude towards his patients and colleagues stems from being bullied at school, being locked in a cellar by his domineering father, and his unfeeling mother favouring his brother, a talented boy scout. In the fifth series, it was revealed that Piers wanted to be a violinist, but his father did not consent to it. His father strictly banned all music from the house for three years, and forced him to take up a career in medicine, even calling him "Doctor Crispin" as a child. Piers is also revealed to be a virgin, despite being forty-three years old and previously being married to a psychotic woman named Linda.
Mrs Raven (Geraldine McNulty), is the sociopathic, sadistic, misanthropic receptionist at the Northolt Health Centre. She has a sadomasochistic relationship with Arnie, has "demonic" triplets from a previous marriage (where she claims her wedding vows were "No retreat, no surrender".) Mrs, Raven often makes snide comments about people while they are present, and seems to pride herself on scaring away potential patients. She often gets the better of her boss, Piers usually through blackmail or similar methods. She is rarely overly mean to Janet, however, and the two women have oddly managed to form a genuine friendship. Mrs. Raven reveals to Janet that prior to being a receptionist, she was a prison warden.
Since the third series, she has assumed an on/off relationship with Arnie, who has been staying with her since moving to Northolt. During the course of the series, her first name is never revealed. She even refers to herself simply as "Mrs. Raven," such as in a fantasy she had about Thermoman in season three. Her triplets are also unnamed, and never seen, though Mrs. Raven keeps up a running commentary on their increasingly outrageous, obviously illegal and occasionally disturbing behaviour. She has made numerous references to her equally vicious sister, Doris, and their psychotic mother. She also has appalling personal hygiene, as remarked by Arnie.
She is often known to aid Piers in his schemes, in return for a cut of the profits, including filming Stanley Dawkins's "pregnancy" (which turns out to be a 2oz gallstone) for a live television broadcast; selling homemade booze; and arranging a stripper for Piers' cousin's stag night. She later reveals that her nasty behaviour towards Piers is "one of two things that gets her out of bed". Piers often compares her to the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and likens her to a female version of Hannibal Lecter.
Arnie Kowalski (Lou Hirsch) is George's cousin and confidant. Originally a superhero himself named Polarman, he lost his powers because he began charging for his services. He is portrayed as being greedy, willing to do anything to make money, regardless of who it harms, including himself. In one episode, he gets his powers back from the Ultron Council, and becomes the new hero in town, in order to allow George to have a break from his duties and to spend more time with Janet. However, he soon has them taken away again when he is caught stealing from those he saved, including stealing the Crown Jewels from the Queen.
In the first series, he is implied to be a philanderer and it is revealed that he has fathered sixty-eight children. In this series, he lives in New York, where he owns a café, but in the second series, he moves to Las Vegas, where he owns a casino. In the third series, after losing all of his money, Arnie moves to Northolt. Following his move, Arnie begins to use British idioms. In an attempt to regain some of his wealth, Arnie tries a number of get rich quick schemes, including trying to start up a website for George's health shop with Tyler; filming a sitcom called "The Filth Channel" for Ultron, where he records his bedroom activities with on/off lover Mrs Raven; and starting a therapy group to help George get his invincibility back when he learns the truth about his powers.
Stanley and Ella Dawkins
Stanley (Tim Wylton) and Ella Dawkins (Lill Roughley) are Janet's meddlesome parents. Their relationship is tempestuous, getting off on a bad start from literally day one, as they argued on their honeymoon and spent the night apart. Mrs Dawkins is a typical mother-in-law, and has always thought Janet should have married Piers. She dislikes George, believing him to be an idiot and a loser. Stanley humorously complains all the time about his wife, and is rather suspicious of George and all other men who go anywhere near his daughter.
When George gains the mystic power of "Mascara", he reads Stanley’s mind and discovers that all he ever thinks about is killing Ella. He seems to be a bit more tolerant of George, as he has a few good times with him, mainly because it irritates Ella, making him a lesser target. Despite his dislike of them, George repeatedly attempts to get Stanley and Ella to like him. Janet, on the other hand, holds a deep grudge against them, due to their overbearing, controlling ways and their repeated abuse of George.
Tyler (Philip Whitchurch) is Janet and George's eccentric scouse neighbour. Aside from family, he is the only person who knows George's real identity, but often seems to have his own even more bizarre ideas and theories about the universe. For instance, he often claims that Gandalf, Frodo, and other fictional characters are staying in his flat. George initially denies Tyler's claims that he is Thermoman, but later begins to accepts that Tyler knows (mainly because no one would believe him), and gives him a job as his assistant in the health shop, replacing his former assistant, Avril.
He is the only human who is resistant to George's memory-erasing thermoblast. Towards the end of the series, it is revealed much to the surprise of Janet, Tyler is only thirty-two years old. Tyler once reveals to George and Arnie that at five years old, he was sent to boarding school and was bullied repeatedly for ten years. Tyler often refers to George as "Master", and occasionally calls Janet "Mistress". Following Cassie's birth, Janet often ropes Tyler in as an impromptu babysitter. Tyler's surname is never revealed.
Sunday Family Tree
|Ella Dawkins||Stanley Dawkins||Ulrich Sunday||Séamus Sunday|
|Janet Dawkins||George Sunday|
|Apollo "Ollie" Sunday||Cassandra Sunday|
Avril (Moya Brady) is George's nervous health shop assistant in the first series. She has a crush on George and a major dislike of Janet. She also suffers from repeated breakdowns and shakes. She is cursed with a perpetual cold, which makes her position in a health shop a frequent source of ironic humour.
The Ultron Postie (Pat Kelman) is a postman from Ultron who delivers messages and gadgets to Thermoman from the high council. He often mysteriously arrives through the wall in George and Janet's bathroom.
Ultron is Thermoman's home planet and Superheroes are their greatest export. Ultron is never seen, apart from a few shots of the planet from space (although George once described the gravity and atmospheric pressure to be much greater than Earth), but many references are made to the planet and its unique culture throughout the series. Traditions include the grand ceremony of Betrothal; the great pig juggling ceremony; the time tunnel of tarxis, which re-aligns age hormones; the protocols of Talithos and Zanalar; and the pre-wedding mating ritual. Other less common traditions include the Ultron nose-pinch, which is the sign of true friendship between a male and a female; the sacred oath of allegiance and stance, which features Ultronians standing with their right arms on their hips and their left arms straight across with the hands pointing down; and Chang Ching, a combat to the death, where forfeiting results in being scattered to the corners of the universe in four separate packing cases.
Languages include "Zneet Znadder Zneet" (often shortened to "Zneet"), which is a typical Ultronian greeting; "Zneet Znadder Znithery Zneet", a happy Ultronian greeting; "You Great Nishdar", which is an Ultronian insult; and "Zneet Znadder Znooding Zneet", a greeting which is considered disgusting and illegal. Lying on Ultron is also punished by death. George states that Ultronians find physical beauty unnecessary and meaningless. Compassion, intelligence and decent morals are valued more than anything else, if an Ultronian is to find a spouse. George states the males on Ultron know their soulmates as soon as they meet them. He also states that Ultronian women are remarkably tall, almost Amazonian. His own sister is eleven feet tall. If an Ultronian male gets a female pregnant and they are not married, the Ultronian male must have a Vasectomy, which is performed using two bricks and no anesthetic, unless they get married.
Ultron superheroes take a vow to protect all human life, and the superhero code forbids them injuring another human being. Section nine of the code covers illegal impersonation of a superhero for personal advancement, and for misuse of superpowers for personal gain. Heroes must transform in the bathroom. If a species falls below acceptable standards, they are "permanently excluded from the universe", in the worst possible case. In others, they punish the world that has not done particularly well by sending someone that they hate. George and Arnie quote various rules throughout the series, including "Always set the best possible example", "Never sneeze with your visor closed", "No superhero shall ever lend his name, image or reputation for commercial endorsement of any kind, including Kentucky Fried Chicken", and "Don't drink and fly". Aside from Planet Earth, the Ultrons' closest neighbours are the Zargons, a race of fish-like humanoids. According to George, Miss Zargon, winner of the Miss Universe contest, has "three of the loveliest noses in the galaxy." Several well-known humans on Earth are revealed to hail from Ultron, including Joan Collins, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Leonardo da Vinci, who are all in fact Ultronian natives who have found stardom on Earth.
In the United States, the series has been released on DVD via BBC Video; "Season One" was released on 16 January 2007, while "Season Two" was released on 7 August 2007. The sets are now currently out-of-print and no subsequent seasons have been made available on region 1.
In the United Kingdom, Series Three was the only series to receive a home video release. The "Complete Series 3" was released on VHS on 7 October 2002 via IMC Vision, while two DVD sets, "Volume 1" (episodes 1–5 of Series 3), and "Volume 2" (episodes 6–10 of Series 3) were also released on 7 October 2002. A DVD set containing "Complete Series 3" was additionally made available from IMC Vision on 14 May 2012.
As of 2018, it has not been announced if My Hero will receive any subsequent series releases, or a complete series box set.
- My Hero at the BBC Comedy Guide.
- "BBC Comedy - My Hero". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
- My Hero at the British Sitcom Guide
- British TV Comedy Guide
- My Hero at Big Bear Films home page
- My Hero episode guide and forum at TV.com
- My Hero at BBC America.
- My Hero News, episode guide and interviews at downthetubes.net
- BBCWorldwide (25 July 2011), Poker Game - My Hero - BBC, retrieved 17 February 2017
- "BBC - Press Office - My Hero returns". London, UK: BBC Press Office. 16 May 2002. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- BBCWorldwide (23 May 2007), Piers not here - My Hero - BBC comedy, retrieved 17 February 2017
- "My Hero: Season One DVD". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
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- "My Hero: The Complete Series 3 [VHS] ". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
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- "My Hero - BBC Series 3 - Episodes 6-10 - Starring Ardal O'Hanlon, Emily Joyce, Hugh Dennis and Lou Hirsch [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
- "My Hero - Complete Series 3 - BBC1 Starring Ardal O'Hanlon, Emily Joyce, Hugh Dennis & Lou Hirsch [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2018.