Gary Sparrow -
Yvonne Sparrow -
Phoebe Bamford -
Ron Wheatcroft -
Reg Deadman -
Eric Bamford -
OTHER GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART SEASONS
OTHER SCIENCE FICTION COMEDIES
3rd Rock From the Sun
OTHER TIME TRAVEL SHOWS
Gary, an ordinary bloke disastisfied with an ordinary life, chances upon a portal back to the 1940s and the London Blitz. Whilst there, he falls for a barmaid called Phoebe and uses his modern sensibilities to sweep her off her feet. In the 40s he's something exotic, impressive. In the present he fixes televisions. Caught between Phoebe and his demanding wife Yvonne, Gary looks for ways to make his double life work.
GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART from the pens of Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran is a likeable, but hardly memorable sitcom. It has ideas about contrasting the standards of living and the attitudes to life of people living in two different time periods and comes down firmly on the side of the 1940s, but then it skirts around the horrors of the time, such as lots of dead people.
The show benefits from having Nicholas Lyndhurst of ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES fame in the lead. Again hardly memorable, he is amiable and people can identify with his everyman persona. The real standout, though, is Dervla Kirwan as Phoebe, the barmaid trapped in a loveless marriage to a man serving overseas. She is outstanding.
The time and place is evoked wonderfully with sepia tinting, excellent set dressing and period music. Sadly, the comedy isn't particularly strong, mainly raising a few smiles rather than actual laughs and there is a sensibility to drama that undermines it as well.
GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART is an amiable enough time passer, but is lost from the memory almost as soon as the credits roll.Top
Gary Sparrow is a pretty ordinary sort of bloke. He’s a TV repairman by trade, is married to a pretty girl who works in personnel, but is studying with the open university for a qualification in psychology. He lives in a starter home and is vaguely unsatisfied with his life. Then a call takes him down a side alley and he finds himself back in 1940 in the heart of the Blitz. He meets a pretty barmaid, takes credit for Elton John songs and finds himself strangely energised.
GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART is, on the face of this opening episode, a good-natured sitcom with ideas of some sort of commentary on the aimlessnes of modern life in comparison with a time when life was potentially short and deprived, but seemed to have more vitality and meaning. As the former it is amiable, but toothless. There are some nice lines, but this provokes smiles rather than belly laughs. Gary’s knowing use of modern reference in the other time is counterpointed by his lack of knowledge of the times.
Where GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART really scores in its casting, especially of Dervla Kirwan as Phoebe. An independent, spririted woman stifled by the moral standards of the time, she captures the feel, the language and the accent perfectly. Every moment that she is on screen is one when the show shines. Nicholas Lyndhurst makes for a very amiable, but hardly impressive Gary. He is effectively playing the same role as Rodney in ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES and whilst that is harmless, it’s hardly groundbreaking. The most difficult role falls to Michelle Holmes as Gary’s wife Yvonne. She is required to be annoying and self-centred whilst still being in love with her husband and giving enough reasons why Gary should leave her whilst maintaining enough reasons as to why he can’t.
The period setting is also well created with the filming in a slightly sepia tone that instantly captures most people’s view of the times. Admittedly, the action is restricted to one pub and a small street, but everything appears authentic and appropriate.Top
Despite his wife’s advice that he needs to wear a suit to a promotion interview, Gary doesn’t and fails to get the job. He finds out that she knew about it and failed to tell him. Angry, he heads out and buys a suit, a 1940s suit, and heads back to see if he can make his way back through time again to a more accommodating woman.
Gary takes care of the first problem for a time traveller – fitting in. He is fortunate enough to be able to get hold of the clothes and the money in charity shops and that makes his life a bit simpler in 1940.
Apart from that, the pattern is pretty much as before. The present is full of disappointment and annoyance whilst the past (full though it may be with bombs) is a simpler time and he is able to easily convince Phoebe that he is far more than he actually is with talk of America and a future after the war. The comedy remains pleasant by not really all that funny and the performances are fine.Top
Gary is really studying up on the Blitz and this starts to grate on Yvonne who would rather that he concentrate on their problems in the present. When he learns that the area around the pub is going to get a real pasting from the bombers earlier than the usual timetable, he goes back through time to warn Phoebe to get away. He takes her to spend the night in a tube shelter, but the following morning his knowledge of the air raid leads to interest from the police. In the present, meanwhile, Yvonne has the police interested in Gary as well, as a missing person.
The use of the London Underground as bomb shelters is looked at here. The traditional pulling together and singing songs to keep your spirits up is here, but also is the fact that tickets for beds were used as currency on the black market. Gary getting pulled in by the police as a spy is the most interesting aspect of the story and his change from smartass to scared as he realises the precariousness of his position is more subtle than the show deserves. The manner in which he deals with it is satisfying enough.Top
When Gary asks his almost-mate Ron, a printer, to come up with some authentic looking documents for 1940, Ron agrees on the proviso that he can go too. Gary agrees, but it appears that only he can make the jump. When Ron promises to go to Huddersfield where Gary’s wife is on a course to spill the beans, Gary races there first.
Following the events of the last episode, Gary sorts out the documents situation. The manner of his getting back to the 1940s has been pretty much ignored, but the matter is raised when Ron is inexplicably unable to join him there. What is it about Gary that allows him to make the journey.
The comedy slips into drama when Phoebe asks Gary to take her back with him to Cricklewood and he is forced to admit that Marilyn Monroe is stalking him. Dervla Kirwan’s performance remains the best reason to watch this show.Top
Yvonne decides that, in order to strengthen their marriage, she and Gary need to share an interest, causing Gary to invent a trip to watch England play football in Lithuania. When he is injured in the past and overstays his time in hospital, however, his cover is blown.
Gary is very seriously considering the end of his marriage, but hasn't got any real justification. The love may have gone from his side, but the fact that his wife still seems devoted (if annoying) and Gary is pretty weak at best means that he is caught up in a triangle that he is hardly strong enough to break out of.
The comedy is pretty weak as well with only Ron's garbled explanation for why Gary isn't back from the fake trip to Lithuania providing any real amusement.Top
Yvonne finally snaps when Gary's expenditure on 1940s memorabilia leaves them broke. She says that it will all have to go, or she will. Ron provides Gary with some fake 40s notes to invest in the Stock Market in order to make then millionaires in the present. Instead, Gary takes Phoebe for a last night she will always remember with dinner at the Savoy. Fate intervenes, however, in the shape of a telegram concerning her husband.
The last episode of the series and one that fits in with the rest perfectly, but hardly rises above them. There is more plot, squeezing in a meeting with the King during the Blitz and the dinner and all, but the laughs of even rarer this time around, making way for a more dramatic story.
This time around, Yvonne isn't the villainess of the piece as her humiliation when her credit card is refused is perfectly understandable. Gary's response also needs to be believable and is. Things don't quite end on a cliffhanger, but nothing is resolved either.
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