In terms of repeat viewings on TV, The sitcom Open All Hours is probably second only to Dad’s Army. Personally, I prefer Open All Hours to Dad’s Army, if only because I have more memories of watching it the first time around.
Open All Hours was created by Roy Clarke, who was also responsible for the long running Last of the Summer Wine (longest running sitcom in the world no less, about to enter it’s 29th series!). It is set in a corner shop in Yorkshire that is run by Albert Arkwright (played by the late great Ronnie Barker). Arkwright is a bit of a penny pincher, and is immediately recognisable by his trademark brown shop keeper’s coat, and his comedy stutter.
Whilst some people did find his stammering a bit insulting, it was never done maliciously and was purely there to add comedy to the show. I especially liked the times where Arkwright would continuously trip over his words to the extent that even he got fed up and then said whatever he was trying to say in a completely different way. I recall an episode where he tried to sell a “Jamaican Ginger Cake” to a wary customer which came out as something like “Ja-ja-ja-ja-ja-jamaican ger-ger-ger-ger Jamaican ger-ger-ger-ger Ja-ja-jamaican ger-ger… oh, just take it”, Arkwright then stuffing the cake into the customers hand and ushering them away.
Another running joke was the old shop till that had a lethal spring on the money drawer, with a seemingly random delay before it actually finally opened. Anybody attempting to put money into (or woe betide take money out of) the till had to be extremely careful not to lose a finger or two when opening it.
Arkwright was assisted by Ger-ger-granville, sorry, Granville, his long suffering nephew (played by David Jason). Granville was forever bemoaning his unluckiness in love, blaming Arkwright for his failures because he had to spend so much of his time working in the shop or making deliveries. The other regular character was Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron) who lived opposite the shop and drove a Morris Minor. She was the object of Arkwright’s affections, and whilst he did have the odd success from time to time she generally ended up rebuffing most of his amorous advances.
Interestingly, the pilot episode for the show actually aired in 1973, as part of a series called Seven of One, which consisted of seven one off comedy shows all starring Ronnie Barker. From this series came both Open All Hours and that other famous Ronnie Barker show Porridge. Open All Hours finally got a full series in 1976, but it wasn’t until 1981 that a second series was made. Two further series followed in 1982 and 1985, making a total of 26 episodes in all.