- Meet the Wife
Meet the Wife Genre Sitcom Created by Chesney and Wolfe Starring Freddie Frinton
Country of origin United Kingdom No. of episodes 39 Production Running time 30 minutes Broadcast Original channel BBC1 Original run 28 December 1963 – 19 December 1966
Meet the Wife is a 1960s BBC situation comedy written by Ronald Chesney and Ronald Wolfe, which featured Freddie Frinton as Freddie Blacklock with Thora Hird as his tyrannical wife, Thora. It ran to five series.
The series was based on a 1963 BBC television Comedy Playhouse production, "The Bed". The theme tune was by Russ Conway and incidental music by Norman Percival and later Dennis Wilson. The producers were John Paddy Carstairs and later Robin Nash.
The series followed the various ups and downs of a middle-aged married couple. Of the two, Fred was the "straight man". He was a plumber who liked a bit of betting and a drink before coming home. His wife, Thora, was noted for her incessant talking while giving her husband a hard time. The couple had at least two children, one named Peter who is now 23 and married. The series has much in common with the later BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, except that the central couple were unmistakably working class.
The catchphrases of the series were both Thora's. The first occurred whenever the socially-aspiring Thora introduced her husband, when she would snobbishly pronounce his name "Frayed", remarking that he was "a Master plumber", with the emphasis on the word Master. The other was to throw an irate accusative tantrum at poor, downtrodden Fred, with the words, "Every time [such-and-such happens], you always go berserk" The word berserk was given great emphasis, as "Ber-Serk", and always had a successful comedic effect as Fred would wilt under the onslaught.
- The Bed (28 Dec 63) Fred and Thora have been using the same bed for 25 years and it is lumpy and past its best. Thora decides it's time to get not just a new bed but 2 separate beds, because Fred keeps taking the bed clothes, etc. However two beds cost much more than one so she settles on a nice bed but that night makes Fred's life a nightmare as she tries to get settled, so Fred goes to the spare room to sleep on the old bed. While still nagging him though he's now in another room, Thora finds his present and card for their Silver Anniversary tomorrow, costing the £15 she thought he'd wasted. She grabs the bed clothes and goes to the other room and gets in bed with Fred. Brian Oulton was the bed salesman.
- Getting Away (21 Apr 64)
- Coming Home (28 Apr 64)
- The Back (5 May 64) Fred wants a quiet lay-in on a Sunday morning but his wife keeps him nearly as busy as her nagging tongue. He's finally had enough and goes to the pub. She is worried because he is late coming back but he has been to the other side of town to get the pills for her bad back, which she has been moaning about all morning. Harold Goodwin was the milkman.
- Night Out (12 May 64)
- Little Andrew (19 May 64)
- The Business Dinner (26 May 64) A couple they knew from years back are coming to dinner and Thora wants to make a good impression on them as he builds houses and could put some plumbing work Fred's way. Her patience is sorely tried as the woman keeps on about how well off they are until one of Fred's mates drops by and tells her that the man's house business is near bankruptcy because his wife spends so much.
- The Strain (2 Jun 64) Plumber's helper Sid (Brian Rawlinson) has taken the day off to get himself a new bike. Fred hurts his arm and head getting a bath upstairs on his own and comes home early. Thora takes his temperature which is 103.F (she forgot to shake the thermometer so the temperature is of the boy next door who used it last) and the doctor is called. She panics to get everything tidy before he arrives which leads to a number of disasters.
- Shopping (12 Nov 64)
- The Teenage Niece (19 Nov 64)
- The Shelf (26 Nov 64)
- The Invitation (3 Dec 64)
- The Lesson (10 Dec 64)
- The Wallpaper (17 Dec 64)
- The Ring (18 Apr 65)
- The Bathroom (25 Apr 65)
- Cousin Olive (2 May 65)
- The Loft (9 May 65)
- Doctor's Orders (16 May 65)
- The Picnic (23 May 65)
- The Pain (22 Nov 65)
- Her Birthday (29 Nov 65)
- Brother Tom (6 Dec 65) Fred's brother Tom (Stanley Meadows) has been in town on business and now there is a heavy fog so rather than drive the 50 miles home, Fred says it is OK for him to stay with them. However Tom brings a lady friend, Josie (Ann Kennedy) with him and Thora is determined that there should be no hanky-panky between the two, even if she and Fred has to stay up all night to keep an eye on them, and her lecherous husband who has taken a fancy to Josie.
- The Hotel (13 Dec 65)
- The Merry Widow (20 Dec 65) Fred is too friendly with Mrs Jackson aka "Blossom" (Avis Bunnage) who moved in across the road last month and because of circumstances Thora thinks there is something going on between them. Arthur Howard as The Vicar.
- Journey Home (27 Dec 65) Fred and Thora have spent xmas with their son (not seen), his wife Peggy (Jean Marlow) and two children. They go home on Boxing Day but get in the wrong part of the train which means they travel 30 miles in the wrong direction and have to spend seven hours in a freezing cold waiting room.
- The Holiday (26 Sep 66)
- Continental Tour (3 Oct 66)
- The Return (10 Oct 66)
- The Diet (17 Oct 66)
- My Husband's Brother (24 Oct 66)
- Tilly-Ann (31 Oct 66)
- Old Time Dancing (7 Nov 66) Thora enrolls them both into a dancing contest then bullies Fred into joining her. There is a big fuss over them getting dressed on the night then Fred loses a shirt sleeve while dancing so it's all his fault they won't be there next week and on TV. Peter West appears as himself, as the compere.
- The Schoolboy (14 Nov 66)
- The Homework (21 Nov 66)
- The Nasty Sleeper (28 Nov 66)
- Bless 'Em All (5 Dec 66)
- This Christmas, Shop Early! (12 Dec 66)
- Christmas Travel (19 Dec 66)
- There was also a "Meet the Wife" sketch on BBC's Christmas Night with the Stars for 1964.
In common with many other series of this era, not all episodes have survived. The following are currently thought to exist:
- (Series 1) 1-7
- (Series 2) 1, 2
- (Series 4) 1-6
- (Series 5) 7
- ^ Fred also had a catchphrase; always uttering an affected, over-the-top, supposed-upper class "Yai-sss", accompanied by tilted head, sycophantic smile and rapid eye-blinking, in response to Thora's request for confirmation (e.g. "Isn't that right, Fred?") on some point she was making to any member of the group she was aspiring to equal socially.
entriesEducating Archie (TV version, 1958-59) · The Rag Trade (1961-63, 1977-78) · Meet the Wife (1963-66) · Barley Charlie (1964) · The Bed-Sit Girl (1965-66) · Sorry I'm Single (1967) · According To Dora (1968) · Wild, Wild Women (1968-69) · On the Buses (1969-73) · Romany Jones (1972-75) · Don't Drink the Water (1974-75) · Yus, My Dear (1976) · The Boys And Mrs B (1977) · Watch This Space (1980) · Take a Letter, Mr. Jones (1981)
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