Tellyspotting's Book of Little Known Facts for the holidays


As we approach the holiday season, chances are you could find yourself grasping for that elusive conversation starter that we all desperately seek at one time or another. What better way to both start a conversation and immediately let it be known that you are intelligent AND have a sense of humor than to lob the opening grenade starting the British comedy discussion.

Here are a few fun facts and pieces of trivia guaranteed to turn heads at any gathering from your favourite British comedy series to get the ball rolling.

Are You Being Served

275px-Are_You_Being_Served_pilot_title_card– Premiered Sept 8, 1972 when the BBC cancelled live reports from the Munich Olympics due to the Black September terrorist hostage siege as part of a hastily put together Comedy Playhouse.

– While the idea for the series came from co-writer, Jeremy Lloyd’s brief period working at Simpson’s Department store in Picadilly, the department store in the series was based on the real-life store, Clements, the first department store in England in Watford, just north of London.

– American producer, Garry Marshall (Odd Couple, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley) attempted a failed American version of the program titled Beane’s of Boston in 1979.

Keeping Up Appearances

220px-Onslow_(Keeping_Up_Appearances)– The FH on Onslow’s hat stands for Fulton Hogan Ltd., a New Zealand asphalt and road-building company.

– Hyacinth’s china pattern, described as “Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles”, is actually a pattern called “Braganza” and was manufactured by The Colclough China Company. The Colclough China Company was founded in 1890 and was taken over by Royal Doulton in the early 1970s (so Hyacinth is only stretching the truth a bit).

As Time Goes By

– The man and woman in the photographs in the opening of the show, who are supposed to be Jean (Judi Dench) and Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer) when they first met, are actually Dench’s daughter, actress Finty Williams, and Palmer’s son.

– The program was originally titled “Winter with flowers”, but when a cake bearing the title was presented at the filming of the first episode, the cast and crew refused to eat any cake unless the name of the series was changed.

Last of the Summer Wine

– The original working title for the series was The Library Mob

images-1– The series was nearly cancelled before it had even started, when Bill Owen (Compo) who was very left-wing and Michael Bates who was very right-wing started having a heated and vigorous argument about their different political affiliations, over dinner when they first met. Producer James Gilbert read them the riot act and told them that unless they agreed to differ, and not to argue about politics, he was going to cancel the project. Owen and Bates meekly agreed and never discussed politics again.

– Officially announced by Buckingham Palace in 1996 as being Her Majesty the Queen’s favourite television series.

The Vicar of Dibley

images-2– Dawn French initially requested to play Alice Tinker, because she felt the vicar wouldn’t be funny enough and that she understood Alice’s humor. She later requested that the Vicar have some sort of faults – hence her being a bit lonely, a bit vain, and having a massive chocolate obsession.

– Dawn French and Lenny Henry (Chef) are married in real life.

This should get the ball rolling enough for you to turn heads and make you the new Most Interesting Man or Woman in the World. Let me know if you need more.