Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Good Night Sweetheart

I often wonder where my love of the 1940's came from initially, before I started to inhale history books on the subject. And thanks to a bit of random TV flicking followed by some unabashed YouTube surfing, I think I have pinpointed it. A 1990's TV show in the UK called "Good Night Sweetheart".

 I was hooked then, aged 12, and have a feeling that, if I ignore some of the 90's sitcom crummyness, I shall be hooked again. It combines 2 of my favourite things -  time travel and the 1940's. What's not to love?

Starring Nicholas Lyndhurst of "Only Fools and Horses" fame in the title role of Gary Sparrow, a time traveller, and a veritable host of well known "oooh!-what-else-has-he-been-in??" faces, it first aired in 1993 and ran for 6 series, coming to an end in 1999. I had no idea that it ran for that long - probably because I became more interested in boys and started hanging out down the field -  so I am keen to watch it all. The box set it on my Yule time wish list.

Gary Sparrow played by Nicholas Lyndhurst

Gary, a TV repair man (remember those?) by day, finds the time portal by accident and stumbles into a Blitz bombarded East End London whilst on a call out. He enters the first pub he finds, called The Royal Oak, and asks directions. Confusion and disbelief ensue when the air raid is sounded and Gary finds himself in the cellar of the pub with dust and glass everywhere.

Phoebe was played first by Dervla Kirwan and later, Elizabeth Carling. I always loved Carling in this role

He meets Phoebe Bamford, daughter of the landlord, who is married to a serving soldier. They soon begin a relationship that is helped along by Gary's uncanny knack of getting hold of rationed items. Who knew it only took chocolate and nylons to win a girls heart? Oh, and singing Elton John songs on the old Joanna?

Yvonne Sparrow played by Michelle Holmes and then Emma Amos. I always preferred the original.

However, back in the 90's, Gary has a thoroughly modern Milly of a wife in the form of Yvonne. A bit of a ball breaker, and pretty mean to Gow for most of the time, it is hard to see why he was with her in the first place. He proceeds to have simultaneous relationships in the 40's and 90's.

Ron Wheatcroft played by Victor McGuire

Gary sets up a second hand shop, where he sells pristine 1940's vintage, with the time portal in the back yard, so that he can flit back and forth between his "then and now" lives. He is constantly aided and abetted by his friend  Ron Wheatcroft, who wants nothing more than to have a glimpse at life through the time window, but cannot pass. That would probably be just my luck if I found myself in a similar situation.

As mentioned the series ran for 6 years and  with a total of 58 episodes, including a Christmas Special, with various historical figures making an appearance such as Winston Churchill and George Formby.

It may lack the sophistication of a modern sitcom  (excluding the likes of "My Family")  but I love it. Roll on Yule and a potentially fulfilled wish list! I am tentatively looking forward to a snowy and cold January in the company of a DVD fest! (I have just read this post out to The Beard -  so I am hoping he has taken the bait)

Can you remember what first sparked your interest in your vintage-ness?


  1. I recently saw a few episodes of Goodnight Sweetheart on TV and realised I watched quite a few when they were on in the 90s but then forgotten all about it!
    I think it's great, though it could do with more of the 40s and less of the 90s if you ask me!
    Maybe it planted vintage seeds in my teenage mind too?

  2. I thought I would let you know that Dervla Kirwan was the original Phoebe and then after the second series I think it went to Elizabeth Carling. You can buy the box set from HMV for £17 its really good.

  3. I prefer the first Phoebe and Yvonne! Any hoo- I use to watch it as nipper and thought it was great, and I'm sure it helped to grow my obsession- but I think Wallace and Gromit nudged me more towards the vintage living lark, as I’ve always liked their furniture- very utility like and old fashioned!

  4. Thanks Twink! Noted and edited :o)

  5. Ha ha I remember that! I'm afraid I always preferred Only Fools and Horses and felt it vaguely disheartening that 'Rodders' was a love-rat (albeit in a very bumbling and disorganised way).
    I was given a big pile of 1960s Vogues and National Geographics as a kid and fell in love with the strange, over-bright colours and opulant promises of the adverts! I also loved jumble sales and the two just merged together.

  6. I liked Dervla Kirwan as the original Phoebe but preferred Emma Amos as the second Yvonne(!).

    I enjoyed it when it first aired, and caught a couple of episodes on TV again recently. I agree that it helped nuture the vintage bug, but looking back I think I had already been bitten some time beforehand.

    I started watching old Laurel & Hardy films when I was about 8 (I loved the clothes, locations etc. as well as the comedy) and listened to the likes of Glenn Miller from the age of 11, so that's where my love of vintage came from, I think.

  7. I loved that show! They used to play it on TV on Tuesday mornings so I could only watch it when I was home sick from school. (Since then I made a point to watch all the episodes)

    I am not sure what first sparked my interest in vintage. I grew up in an old house and surrounded by old things, so that likely had something to do with it.

  8. I loved this series too. I especially liked it when they moved to the West End to an Art Deco appartment, my favourite architectural period. Only £17 in HMV?! I've gotta get myself down there. I think my love of the 1920s & 30s probably began watching Harold Lloyd and Fred & Ginger films as a youngster.

  9. I remember this being on but not being all that interested (probably due to the those 90's sitcom production values) I would be more likely to watch it now, purely for the outfits. I was a indie kid around then n liked my vintage t-shirts and converse but then I became a Hole fan and my love of vintage dresses was born!

  10. Oh my whole family was addicted to this. Wasn't Yvonne a shrew, why on earth did he stay with her aftermeeting Phoebe?

  11. I love that show. My sweetie got it for me last CHristmas, and watched with me. He's NOT a history person, but he loved it, too!

    Both of us preferred the original Phoebe & Yvonne, but enjoyed it right till the bitter end.

  12. This was definitely the reason I started loving the 1940's I was only 4 years old but its one of the first programmes I ever remember watching and it made my love for 40's and time travel like you start from an early age!
    Love this post :)
    Loretta x x

  13. I used to love that series too!

    What first sparked my interest in has always been all around me. I have a large family, and the older folk used to take us youngsters out all the time, telling us tales of what they used to get up to when they were young, from hopping in Kent to working in Smithfield Market. It really sparked my interest in history. I remember being 11 and my mum calling me to watch a special edition of the nine o clock news on BBC that announced the beginning of WWII, to mark the 50th anniversary in 1989. By the time I was 18 in 1995 I had grown up with all these special anniversary events having given me a real sense of what it was like. We went to Hyde Park to celebrate the 50th anniversary of VE Day and stood outside Buckingham Palace to watch the Lancaster bomber drop a million poppies for VJ Day, with my Grandparents and my dear Great Uncle who fought in Burma for the entire campaign. Between them and my Great Aunt, I always had a tale to listen to.

    I have always wanted to wear vintage clothes and red lipstick, but it has only been the last six months that I have plucked up the confidence to be different. x

  14. I LOVE THIS SHOW!!! I watched it when it was 1st on, and now I have the box set and have watched it so many times my boyfriend takes mickey! I definately prefered Dervla Kirwan as Phoebe, and Yvonne is equally annoying when played by either actress, lol ;D I wish I could buy all Phoebe's clothes!

    Hmmmm, I have often asked myself what started my interest in vintage. I think it is a combination of things, including the fact that my parents have always been antiques collectors & I visited many antique shops/fairs as a child, which I didn't object to :) I have always had a love of history, and the 1930s/40s are a time that I have always felt drawn to for some reason x

  15. Ha ha! I used to love that series too!

    For me I was always interested in that period of history, but what really got me a little obsessed was a book called "growing upn at war" I was given when I was about 10. I wanted to make rosehip jam but never got around to it. I still have the book, maybe I should dig it out!

    I've been interested in history and fashion for years. I also had a "fashion through the ages" book that I loved. I often shopped in charity shops and always went for a more "lady like" style. When I was about 18 I had quite a 40s style. Red lipstick, polo neck jumpers and fitted blouses with pencil skirts and wide leg trousers. Plus a gorgeous double breasted coat that I really miss!

    I only really got into what you could call a "proper" vintage look when I discovered how to do stuff with my hair though! It makes so much difference, the same outfit I would have worn 18 months ago looks completely different with victory rolls and curls!

  16. I must say that I too loved Goodnight Sweetheart when I was younger! I think I was probably about 8 when I watched it, but only remembered how much I loved it when I stumbled upon it on the tellybox recently! I suspect it may well have been an early and important factor in my developng love of vintage and most specifically the 1940's! How funny that it seemingly sparked this interest in quite a few of us now vintage obsessed girls! x


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