Series / Open All Hours

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Arkwright, Nurse Gladys and Granville.

A late 1970s-mid 1980s sitcom by Roy Clarke (Last of the Summer Wine, Keeping Up Appearances). Along with Porridge, it was based on one of the more successful items from a series of sitcom try-out pilots by Ronnie Barker called Seven of One.

The miserly, late-middle-aged Arkwright (first name unknown; in one episode Granville calls him 'Albert' but the situation suggests he may have made it up) runs a general store in Balby, a suburb of Doncaster (both the shop and the street are real life places). An Honest John, he prides himself on never letting anyone leave his shop without buying something, and seems to take more pleasure in the thrill of the chase than becoming rich. His work obsession causes friction between him and his love interest/fianceé Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, a buxom midwife whom Arkwright attempts to convince to finally marry him (or at least to let him have his way with her.)

Arkwright is aided and abetted by his long-suffering nephew Granville, possibly the son of a displaced Hungarian noble and certainly the son of a woman whose promiscuity is the butt of many of Arkwright's jokes, whose romantic and exotic dreams are invariably crushed by the grim reality of life in 1970s South Yorkshire.

Ronnie Barker played Arkwright (a very common remark is that it's hard to believe he was simultaneously playing the very different character of Fletcher in Porridge) while Granville was one of the first major roles of a young David Jason (who also played the very old Blanco in Porridge!). Production was done on a very small budget, with the result that the vast majority of the show takes place on the same shop set - this arguably forced the programme to devote its full attention to the verbal comedy, which is often praised.

Barker also contributed Arkwright's famous stutter (absent in the original scripts). The character himself lampshades it at times:
Arkwright: Ger-granville? How do you spell per-per-per-per-peppers? Is it six P's or seven?

Ran for 4 series and 26 episodes, although there were actually thirteen years between the pilot and the final episode, and nine years between the first and last series.

Came eighth in Britain's Best Sitcom.

After a successful one-off Revival episode in 2013 which scored the Christmas week's highest ratings, a full fifth series titled Still Open All Hours and featuring several of the original cast was commissioned, beginning on Boxing Day 2014. In this, Granville has taken over the shop following Arkwright's death.


Contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Mrs. Featherstone to Arkwright and Granville. Arkwright tends to squirm when she's around and Granville fears her after a case of miscommunication, she kisses him.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The arguments, infidelities and miseries of just about every single couple who lives in the area make up a large part of the show's humour in both the original and revival.
  • Black Comedy: In "Beware of the Dog", after the till nearly chops Arkwright's fingers off yet again, a nonplussed Granville suggests in reaction that he make funeral arrangements for his fingers, because sooner or later the till's gonna take them.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gastric
  • Catch-Phrase: "Granville! Fetch your cloth!"
  • Chick Magnet: In contrast to his father when he was his age, Leroy is considerably more successful with women (to the point he borders on being The Casanova). He normally has a new date or two every episode. Somehow he even manages to convince two of them to help him out with his deliveries. Mrs. Hussain barely makes any effort to hide her interest in him. The trouble is, most of the women turn out to have much larger boyfriends who want to kill him when they find out.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Despite being the third main character in the original series and a major character for the first two seasons, Nurse Gladys Emmanuelle disappears without mention in season three of the revival.
  • Couch Gag: The opening sequence always depicts Arkwright doing something different (e.g. looking for bird poop or trying to paint the word "P-P-P-P-PEPPER" on his storefront window). Granville's reaction is always the same.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Mrs. Featherstone in the revival. While to all her husbands and to Mr. Newbold she is the very picture of ice, she is always throwing herself at Granville to his obvious displeasure.
  • The Ditz: Wavy Mavis. When she was asked why she married her ex-husband when she knew he was terrible from the start, she revealed that he told her she was pregnant.
  • Dodgy Toupee: One of the odd products Mark Williams salesman character attempts to peddle to Granville in Still Open All Hours is a range of dodgy toupees for the customer too embarassed to consult a hair loss professional but who might impulse buy one at the counter of his local shop.
  • Does Not Like Men: Mavis's sister Madge, whose failed relationships have embittered her on the entire male sex. Granville keeps attempting to set her up with Gastric in order to give himself a clear run at Mavis.
  • Dog Walks You: A recurring gag involves a local man sticking his head into the shop but being yanked away by his massive dog before Granville can find out what it was he came in for.
  • Dragged into Drag: Granville, when Arkwright sends him to buy back some clotheshorses from a rival storekeeper. As said storekeeper is Indian, Granville's disguise is appropriately Indian. Hilarity Ensues when Granville returns with the clotheshorses just as Arkwright is dealing with a couple of irascible male customers...
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: About half of the customers.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Arkwright, who takes pride in ensuring his customers buy something from his store whether they want to or not, reacts with a degree of disgust when one tries to order fire lighters for her husband.
    Arkwright: You're supposed to wait until he's dead first!
  • Expy:
    • Kathy Staff's character Mrs Blewitt is, as the actress herself noted in a making-of documentary, essentially the same character as the one she plays in Last of the Summer Wine, Nora Batty (also written by Clarke).
    • A reverse example - Last of the Summer Wine got the character of Auntie Wainwright, who is an obvious gender-flipped expy of Arkwright (and note the similar name) but less sympathetic and with the 'sell anything to anyone' ability turned Up to Eleven.
  • The Faceless: Mr Bristow, never seen outside his motorcycle helmet and leathers. Actually, The Voiceless, too. Come to think of it, are we sure he isn't The Stig?
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The series is oddly depressing because of it.
  • Generation Xerox: Still Open All Hours shows that Granville did inherit the shop as promised and he's become a lot like Arkwright, with his son Leroy in his former position. He even pokes fun at the identity of Leroy's mother, just like Arkwright did with him.
  • Gasshole: Gastric, has an easily upset stomach, causing him to often belch (especially when he hasn’t eaten for a while) hence his nickname. The actual effect is downplayed, compared to most examples, but it is still there.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Arkwright and later, Granville as well.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Pretty much everything Arkwright says to Nurse Gladys is riddled with Unusual Euphemisms.
  • Inner Monologue: Granville has several thoughts on the day as he starts closing up shop. Usually it's about charging people more than what he should have.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Arkwright is highly skilled in conning people into buying useless junk, especially strangers or newcomers to the area. On one occasion he even manages to sell trayloads of groceries to a professional salesman - without, of course, ever buying any of the gentleman's products in turn.
    • Granville has clearly picked up a few tricks, as he shows in "Still Open All Hours."
  • Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast: Much like Roy Clarke’s other series, Last of the Summer Wine, this makes up a lot of the show’s humour in the revival, benefiting from its much larger recurring cast.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Arkwright > Granville > Leroy
  • The Matchmaker: Granville for Gastric and Madge, largely so that with Madge out of the way, he can pursue Mavis.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Granville and Mavis are keen to rekindle their feelings after she got divorced, but her sister Madge is even keener to keep him away.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: In Still Open All Hours, Granville tasks Leroy with tailing a local to find out where he is doing his shopping. Leroy does so clutching a magazine in front of his face as cover.
  • Not So Above It All: Nurse Gladys Emmanuelle is the most sensible character, but even she can’t stop herself from taking some joy out of Arkwright’s more comedic gambits. She also actively participates in one of Granville's pranks on Arkwright involving Mrs. Featherstone.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • Mr Bristow's head is stuck in his helmet, so Granville bends him over the counter and Arkwright produces a large axe (intending to prise it off with the handle)...then one of his best customers walks in.
    • Leroy is about to bring out some trays of tomatoes for the outside display when he walks right into Mrs. Hussain and falls right on top of her...then Granville comes outside.
  • Once an Episode: In the revival, Granville points to Arkwright's portrait and quotes him (stutter and all) near the middle of every episode. Gets downgraded to being a running gag as the series goes on though.
  • Only Sane Woman: Nurse Gladys Emmanuelle, undisputedly the most down to earth and reasonable character in both series, is also one of the few who isn’t fooled by Arkwright’s tactics.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gastric, to the point his actual name hasn’t been revealed yet.
  • Out-Gambitted: Only once. Arkwright tried to swindle a seemingly naïve Indian shopkeeper into buying useless wooden clothes horses. However, the man was revealed to be playing him and made the fact his shop still stocked wooden clothes horses a big part of his advertising, claiming he had the most traditional shop in all of Yorkshire. Arkwright was thus forced into buy several back.
  • The Pollyanna: Mavis, while mocked by a lot of people for her low intelligence and optimism, is almost certainly is the most cheerful character in the series and overall is the most happy.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Arkwright. Lampshaded at times, usually by Granville, but in one Couch Gag Arkwright himself jokingly asks Granville if "P-P-P-P-PEPPER", the word he's trying to paint on the storefront window, is spelled with 6 P's or 7.
    Arkwright: G-Granville, how do you spell "p-p-p-p-pepper"? Is it 6 P's or 7?
  • Positive Discrimination:
    • Played mostly straight in the original series, with the only person to ever outsmart Arkwright being of Indian descent. But played with slightly, in that the man wasn’t presented as better than Arkwright, rather Arkwright was so used to dealing with idiots he slipped up dealing with a genuinely intelligent person for a change.
    • Subverted in the revival. At first glance Cyril (who’s black) appears smarter than Eric and more sceptical towards Granville’s cons. However, he is truthfully just as gullible as Eric. Likewise he and Mrs. Hussain aren’t presented as overall any different from anyone else in the area.
  • Product Placement: More for realism than any money being given for the exposure, many British and British versions of American company products can be seen in the store and advertised on the walls and door.
  • Reverse Psychology:
    • Arkwright gets rid of unwanted ginger cake by immediately announcing to customers as soon as they come through the door "I'm sorry, but I can only let you have one!" before implying they're an aphrodisiac.
    • Granville shows how much he learned from the master in the revival when he does the same for "Yaggis" (Yorkshire's fictitious answer to haggis, actually a salami sausage plus some made-up-on-the-spur-of-the-moment patter).
  • Really Gets Around: Arkwright makes constant cracks about Granville's mother along these lines. In the revival Granville says the same about his own son's mother (who eventually makes an appearance).
  • Revival: "Still Open All Hours", a one-off Christmas special in 2013. Granville is now the proprietor of the shop (and every bit as miserly as Arkwright was), with his son as the new errand boy.
  • Role Reprisal: In addition to Granville, Still Open All Hours sees the return of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, Granville's love interest Mavis, and Mrs Featherstone, all played by the original actresses.
  • Running Gag:
    • The till's tight spring that snaps back as soon as money is put into it, nearly chopping off fingers as it does. (This was originally just a spring clip inside the till, but the gag evolved.) In later episodes this always dislodges a tin that's balanced on top of the till, but Arkwright usually manages to catch it in mid-air.
    • In the revival series it is suggested that the deceased Arkwright is haunting the till.
  • The Scrooge:
    • Arkwright’s love of money is practically an obsession; spending money not only causes him noticeable strain, at times it seems to make him physically ill and even he admits his products are notoriously overpriced. The one time he allowed a customer a refund spread through the community like wildfire and led to people believing he was going daft. It’s perhaps best demonstrated in one episode: while at a funeral for a friend, due to having no change he is forced to give up a pound to the collection. However, he honestly can’t stop himself from taking change moments later.
    • Downplayed, with Granville in the revival. While he’s certainly picked up a lot of his uncle’s business sense and cunning, and has a reputation for being a cheapskate. He’s overall far more relaxed and generous than Arkwright ever was.
  • Schmuck Bait: A lot. For example, in one episode Arkwright cons a condescending customer into believing that the town is infested with "frats" (ferret/rat hybrids) and that an old lantern he's been trying to get rid of is a "frat detector".
  • Squirrels in My Pants: In episode 5 of Still Open All Hours, Granville persuades Gastric to dress up in his great grandmother's wedding dress and pose as Old Mother Hemlock to help sell a load of herbal remedies. However, a mouse has taken up residence inside the dress which causes Gastric to go through some very odd gyrations, to the confusion of everyone watching.
  • Stalker With a Crush: At times Arkwright, even though he and Nurse Gladys are supposed to be engaged.
  • Those Two Guys: Cyril and Eric in the revival. They are nearly always seen together and are each often part of the other’s hair brained schemes.
  • Title Drop: At the end of the final episode of the third series, while he's wondering if Nurse Gladys will ever marry him, Arkwright mutters, "I'll just have to stay open all hours."
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Mrs. Featherstone in the revival. While still a stern, unyielding, cold and terrifying woman, she is very much a member of the regular female ensemble and often hangs out with them. In the previous series she didn’t seem to like anyone, and was equally disliked in return.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Downplayed. Granville is certainly more manipulative and greedier in the revival. However, he is still considerably more cheerful and laid back than his uncle ever was.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: The very short lived early 80s ABC sitcom Open All Night was an American adaption of the show, changing the store to a 7-11/Kwik-E-Mart type of establishment, with an entire family running the place. Much like Arkwright struggles to keep Granville in line, his American counterpart Gordon struggles to keep his shiftless and nerdy stepson Terry motivated.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Averted, despite everything counting against Arkwright like his treatment of Granville, his Scrooge-level miserliness and his Stalker With a Crush attitude to Gladys Emmanuel. Clarke's writing and Barker's acting are good enough that Arkwright can be a sympathetic character even when his plans work (so he doesn't end up as The Woobie).
  • Women Are Wiser: Played With. On average the women are brighter than men. However they are still just as easily duped and outsmarted by Arkwright and Granville, who in turn are presented as sharper and quicker than nearly everyone.

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