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I TALK Still Open All Hours

Bringing a sitcom back 40 years after the first episode and 28 years since the final episode, was never going to be easy. And it seemed that when everyone's favourite Grocer set sitcom Open All Hours was set to return, the BBC weren't too sure either whether it would work.

Rather than launching straight into a series the BBC commissioned a one-off special under the title Still Open All Hours which aired last year which thankfully did work and achieved fantastic ratings and critical acclaim, so the BBC were quick to commission a full series which begins this year on Boxing Day on BBC One.

Sir David Jason reprises his role as Granville who has inherited the shop from Uncle Arkwright, the character played by the late Ronnie Barker in the original series. Granville now runs the business with his son, Leroy played by James Baxter, who was the result of a whirlwind romance one night in Blackpool over twenty years ago.

The series follows Granville's actions as he comes up with new ways to make money and he never gives up hope that one day he'll end up with his old flame Mavis, played by Open All Hours original Maggie Ollerenshaw, who lives across the road with her protective sister Madge, played by Brigit Forsyth.

Also returning from the original series alongside David Jason and Maggie Ollerenshaw are Lynda Baron who plays Nurse Gladys Emmanuel who's back to dispense motherly advice and Stephanie Cole who plays Mrs Delphine Featherstone, aka The Black Widow who eyes up Granville as a possible husband number four.

The fact most of the old cast have reunited helps add a real authenticity to the series and shows the belief they have in the series, most probably helped by the fact that Open All Hours creator and original writer Roy Clarke is also writing Still Open All Hours.

There's a host of new characters too played by the likes of Johnny Vegas, Sally Lindsay, Tim Healy, Nina Wadia and last year's special even featured a Chuckle Brother!

The brilliant Johnny Vegas plays Eric who finds it increasingly difficult to please his wife, Mrs Kath Agnew who's played by Sally Lindsay, and the outrageous gossip Mrs Hussein, is played by Nina Wadia who I'm sure used one or two of her experiences as a 'Loose Woman' to prepare for this role.

Tim Healy plays Gastric, who's new to the neighbourhood having recently got divorced after his wife left him because if his rather noisy indigestion. Granville is quick to spot a love-sick man and uses it to his advantage as he tries to match-make him with Madge, in a bid to get her off his back so that he can continue to pine for Mavis.

Despite being shown on Boxing Day, the opening episode isn't set at Christmas. In fact, it's set a few weeks after Christmas on Valentine's Day and love is in definitely in the air as Granville sends Mavis a special delivery.

Elsewhere in the episode,Granville is forced into taking extra security precautions for the shop's takings which cause him a huge discomfort and Eric suffers a curious injury. Yes it's old fashioned, yes you don't quite know what decade the shop is set in but I like that. As well as the audience that used to watch Open All Hours, I'm sure the sitcom has found a new audience who have only just discovered Granville and the shop.

Still Open All Hours is one of the best comedies the BBC have at the moment, so if they have any sense they'll hang onto it for a while longer.

Still Open All Hours starts Boxing Day at 6:25pm on BBC One


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