Thick as Thieves (TV series)

Thick as Thieves is a British sitcom which was broadcast on ITV between 1 June and 20 July 1974 and produced by LWT. It was created and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. There were 8 episodes over one series and starred Bob Hoskins, John Thaw and Pat Ashton.

Thick As Thieves
Created byDick Clement and
Ian La Frenais
Written byDick Clement and
Ian La Frenais
Directed byMike Gibbon
Derrick Goodwin
StarringBob Hoskins
John Thaw
Pat Ashton
Michael Robbins
Johnny Briggs
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Derrick Goodwin
Running time8 x 30 mins
(24 mins sans adverts)
Original networkLWT
Original release1 June (1974-06-01) 
20 July 1974 (1974-07-20)


The plot revolves mainly around George (Bob Hoskins), whose last job as a house burglar ended up with his getting sent to prison. After three long years, he returns to his home and wife Annie (Pat Ashton), only to find everything is not quite as he left it. His best friend Stan (John Thaw) moved into George's house with his wife eight months previously. This was the moment Annie and Stan were dreading, but when it came to the crunch she found she not only loved Stan, but also still loved husband George. Confused, and not helped by George's perhaps understandable annoyance at the situation, she finds she is unable to decide which will stay and which will go. As the series moves on the answer to the trios problems doesn't get any clearer.[1]


Bob Hoskins as George

John Thaw as Stan

Pat Ashton as Annie

Other recurring characters

Johnny Briggs as Spiggy

Michael Robbins as Sergeant Black


Dick Clenent and Ian La Frenais had written the successful sitcom "Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads" (follow-up to their previous 1960's hit series, "The Likely Lads"). This success led to their writing for "Seven of One" in 1973, a series of seven individual comedy playlets starring Ronnie Barker. Each 30-minute segment from different writers each would be considered potential 'pilot' which if decided it had the potential could be developed into a series in its own right. Clement and LaFrenais's contribution was "Prisoner And Escort" featuring Fletcher, an ageing lag and his misadventures while being transported to Slade prison in Cumberland after having been sentenced to (yet another) five-year stretch inside. While "Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads" continued into 1974, they developed "Thick As Thieves" for London Weekend television (LWT), the UK television broadcaster at the weekends in the ITV London region. (Thames Television was the weekly broadcaster during weekdays.) There was only one series in 1974


The series was made on a tight budget, as evidenced by the small number of sets used. External scenes were kept to a minimum, mainly for setting the scene, or as a short linking sequence. Where used, these sequences were on videotape instead of film. Film was used for the sequences used behind the opening and closing titles each week. Typically, ITV comedy programmes that are deemed to last 30 minutes includes adverts in the running times. With adverts, this left some 23–24 minutes of actual programme time and included an advert break halfway through, something which risked breaking the narrative. These restrictions meant writers had to write concisely and economically to deliver a full programme plot in that time. Resulting series can have their episodes shown out-of-sequence without ruining any overall story arc. To get round such limitations and develop their characters, Clement and La Frenais allowed individual plot threads in "Thick As Thieves" to cross between successive episodes, meaning the series must be run in its serial-like series running order for some of the plotlines to make sense.

The series (produced by Derrick Goodwin) was moderately successful, however makers LWT declined a second series. Writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais found themselves suddenly offered a new series by the BBC, the writers' "Prisoner And Escort" segment of Barker's "Seven of One" series having impressed the BBC enough have it developed into a full series that followed the fortunes of Fletcher and his fellow inmates. Again starring Ronnie Barker, it became the much-loved claustrophobic prison-based series Porridge.


Episode 1 – The Home Coming (1 June 1974)

George Dobbs is released from a three-year sentence but no-one welcomes him at the prison gates. He seeks out his best mate, the womanizing Stan, to have a drink with, only to be told that Stan has moved on. The truth is that Stan moved in with Annie eight months ago, originally for company but they became romantically involved. George does not duff up Stan as expected but tells his friend to move out. In the process Stan falls downstairs and no-one believes George didn't do it for real.

Episode 2 – Happy Release (8 June 1974)

Stan is laid up in George's bed, claiming he cannot be moved while Annie cooks him a hearty breakfast. George can have a cuppa if he gets his own cup. Stan's taking advantage of George's soft nature by playing sick comes to an end when he is found creeping round the kitchen.

Episode 3 – Good Conduct (15 June 1974)

George is having a long hard think while walking along the Thames when he comes upon a group of youths trying to save their friend from the river. In a moment of heroism he saves the drowning boy and goes home, claiming his dampness was caused by his doing himself in. The lies start when Sergeant Black knocks on their door and in the face of initially stiff opposition reveals George is actually a bit of a local celebrity but from here the deceit only gets worse.

Episode 4 – Two Men in My Life (22 June 1974)

George and Stan have Annie losing her patience and walking out on both of them to stay with a friend and think things through. The pair of failed burglars have to work together to keep their house in order. The potentially gruelling housework is possibly the worst domestic nightmare they have faced so far, perhaps ever.

Episode 5 – The Trouble with Tommy (29 June 1974)

Tommy is an escaped felon whom police have narrowed the search for to the local area, so it's no surprise when he arrives and makes himself more than at home, ordering a string of demands that tests both George and Stan to the limit. However, thanks to Tommy's violent reputation there's little either can do about it. If three's a crowd, Annie's unexpected return proves that four's a catastrophe.

Episode 6 – Three Into Two Won't Go (6 July 1974)

George has slowly resigned himself to the current domestic situation with himself, Annie and Stan. George discovers that Annie has planned a holiday to Benidorm - with Stan. The ensuing arguments cause so much friction that George thinks about booking his own holiday but instead only succeeds in letting Annie and her girlfriend take both tickets while the two boys slum it out at home.

Episode 7 – Home & Away (13 July 1974)

With Annie away in Benidorm for a holiday with her friend, George and Stan make a decent fist of keeping the home in good order and clean, even learning not to burn their dinner along the way. However the cat's away, so a couple of strays start sniffing out the territory - and the two boys feel that they must rise to the challenge. Any chance of one-upmanship when Annie returns home are dashed by their respective dates still hanging around.

Episode 8 – Holy Deadlock (20 July 1974)

Annie may have double the trouble with two men at her beck and call - nearly - but for this she has sacrificed the other luxuries life has to offer. She stops short of saying she wants them to start stealing stuff again. Instead, competing against each other to vie for Annies' affections, both men independently decide to secretly get some loot in - both by doing a house over. Except that they both choose the same house at the same time, and their collective talents are going to be no match against its owner - the girlfriend of the local gangland boss.


Pat Ashton who played Annie was almost 11 years older than Bob Hoskins who played her husband George, and nearly 12 years older than John Thaw who player her lover, Stan.

Theme Music

The theme music was written by Mike Hugg and Ian La Frenais, and was reminiscent of their theme for "Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads", which series was also penned by Clement and La Frenais. The theme song, "Do The Best You Can" was released on 7" single in 1974 by Fontana Records (6007 037). The group's name was Porridge and it was produced by Hugg and Heath-Hadfield for Flanelcat Productions. The b-side was Look At Yourself, also written by Hugg and La Frenais.

See also


  1. "Thick As Thieves (TV Series)". IMDB. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
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