After headlining the BBC One schedule on Boxing Day and with hopes of a full-blown series possibility this coming Spring, Still Open All Hours may soon have a bit of friendly competition when it comes to the return of classic comedy nostalgia to television.
In the original Open All Hours, Ronnie Barker starred as the stammering, miserly owner of Arkwright’s Grocery. Nephew Granville, played by David Jason, consistently blamed his relentless work schedule for his visible lack of a social life. In Still Open All Hours, Sir David Jason reprises his role as Granville, who has inherited a grocery shop from his beloved skinflint Uncle Arkwright. Granville now runs the shop with his son Leroy, a cheerful, good looking kid with more female admirers than Granville ever dreamed of. While Granville sees him as the shop assistant, he sees himself as the head of IT. In a sense, for Still Open All Hours, Granville has become Arkwright while Leroy takes on the role of the foil for Granville.
Series’ creator Roy Clarke jumped at the chance when Jason approached him about the possibility of ‘re-opening’ Arkwright’s. The one-off special has come at a good time…a time when TV comedy seems to be reverting back to a bit of old-school comedy (Miranda, Mrs. Brown’s Boys) that actually pays attention to a growing older audience. “We took no notice of the modern world whatsoever. It’s either going to work on its nostalgia legs or it’s not,” said Clarke. “I have been outdated all my life. I think there’s a huge audience out there for my kind of less acid comedy. It’s an age thing. I think people grow into it. It’s an audience that’s been overlooked for some years now.”
Could it be Still Only Fools and Horses too?
If Still Open All Hours connects with today’s comedy audience, not only is there a possibility of a full series but Sir David hinted recently at a possible return for his iconic comedic series, Only Fools and Horses. According to Jason, the sons of original creator, John Sullivan, devised a script from an idea their father had that never made it onto television. In very ‘un Del Boy’-like fashion, Jason said that he had a copy of the script on his desk at home but had been too nervous to look at it. He did add, “I’ve had a quick look at the treatment and it’s very good but I’m saving the proper read-though until there are no distractions. It’s not the sort of thing you can muck about with.”
Personally, on paper and in the clips I’ve seen, Still Open All Hours has the potential to connect to a 21st-century comedy audience. I’m not so sure about an Only Fools and Horses re-do. Fast-forwarding Del Boy some 25 years later just doesn’t seem to read as well. What did work better, for me, was the OFAH prequel one-off, Rock & Chips, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst as Freddie Robdal and James Buckley as a young Del Boy.