Sunday 4 September 2016

Hello from the other side

To the best of my knowledge Gary Sparrow does not own a sonic screwdriver. And, I think it's safe to say, he wouldn't know a flux capacitor if he fell over one. But, and here's the thing, none of the above credentials (or lack thereof) make him any less of a time traveller than The Doctor or, indeed, Marty McFly. In fact, what makes Gary Sparrow so good at time travel (and by good I really mean rubbish) is that he comes at the whole concept of space time continuum with absolutely no knowledge of how it works. It just does.

Well, it did until seventeen years ago. That was when the BBC parted company with the hapless, but very likeable, two timing star of Goodnight Sweetheart - the Corporation's gentle wartime/time travel small screen rom com - leaving him stranded in 1945 with no way of ever returning home: home being 1999.

However, that all changed last week. Fast forward to 1962 and Sparrow decides to hot foot it to the hospital on the day of his birth (yes, his *birth day*) and hang about outside the delivery ward. And, faster than you can say 'ration book' finds himself fast forwarded to 2016 and a world he has absolutely no comprehension of (I know how he feels some days).

All the usual gags are telegraphed well in advance - phone shop speak, hipsters, coffee shop saturation, overtly gay couples holding hands in the street - you know the sort of thing that tells us that the world has moved on. But, as a one off, it sort of worked - for the most part. The writing was just as strong, and the familiar characters were all rolled out looking, in the main, recognisable from just before the turn of the Milleneum - with the exception of his best mate, Ron, who, clearly, is still carrying out the world's longest paper round.

Finally, we witnessed Sparrow's stock in trade (always the show's highlight for me) of passing off pop hits of the future as his own compositions and playing them on the pub's piano, decades before they were written. And, in this one off special, it was special: Gary, just back from 2016, where he'd just met the seventeen year old daughter he never knew he had, sat down at the Joanna, on his birthday, and played Adele's Hello From the Other Side. Timeless.


  1. I thought the guy playing Reg - Christopher Ettridge is it? - must have time travelling powers himself as he really looked no different!

  2. I missed this. Actually I missed all of the previous Goodnight Sweetheart episodes. One of those programmes that just passed me by. You've convinced me to scour the iPlayer now. I did catch the 'one-off' Porridge, though. 9/10 for that.