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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

openallhours.jpg What fresh hell is this?

The classic BBC sitcom Open All Hours is set to return for a Christmas special. WHY? And, without its star, HOW?

There was a time when The Towering Inferno and Earthquake were the big beasts of the Christmas TV schedule. Mega budget action films which, unless you’d braved your Kia-Ora sticky local fleapit of a cinema, would be all new to you. These days most people have seen the latest films about three years before they make their TV debut (and due to the constant bombardment of spoilerific clips, tweets and interviews, I often feel like I’ve seen a film before it’s finished being shot). Consequently TV programmers have turned to home-grown baubles with which to decorate their festive schedules, especially the ubiquitous sitcom Christmas special. These are almost all uniformly awful, but there’s been a sinister new twist in recent years with long dead sitcoms having defibrillators attached to their non-twitching corpses. The Royle Family went the way of Only Fools and Horses with laugh-free episodes managing to besmirch their glory days; and the non-eagerly-awaited return of To The Manor Born was one of the worst yuletide atrocities since Fenwick decided to run with a controversial ‘Santa is your dad’ theme for their Christmas window display. And now Open All Hours is back but without its star, Ronnie Barker, a genius who could lift even the most humdrum of material. Co-star David Jason returns, but without Barker, it’ll be like Laurel without Hardy, Morecambe without Wise, or Little with Large.