Series / Waiting for God
The two principals. Left - Graham Crowden as Tom Ballard. Right - Stephanie Cole as Diana Trent
Tom Ballard: [about Diana] Your smile is like a crack in the gates of hell. One can smell the sulphur and hear the screams of the damned through your smiles.

Broadcast between 1990 and 1994 on the BBC, Waiting for God was a British sitcom that ran on BBC1 for five series. It, like many Sit Coms of the time was set in an institution of some kind, in this case Bayview Retirement Village, near Bournemouth.

The main character is the ever cynical retired photojournalist Diana Trent, who spent her working life documenting the most momentous and dangerous events of the times. The story mostly focuses on her relationship with Tom Ballard, a retired accountant who seems to have lost most of his marbles, though to what extent he plays it up isn't quite clear. Diana has retired to Bayview because she lacks any relatives aside from her niece, and Tom because his son and daughter-in-law have finally tired of his antics and want him to move out of their house.

Diana's frustration at the prospect of years of being alternately patronised and ignored at Bayview is vented at the management of the retirement home (the sleazy Harvey Bains and the mousy Jane Edwards) and Tom's ungrateful family, seeking to score moral victories against them at every opportunity while blackmailing the managing directors of Bayview to prevent them throwing her out. Her niece has a much better relationship with her than Tom's family has with him, but the relationship is distant and rather one sided with her niece doing most of the work.

Came thirty-seventh in Britain's Best Sitcom.

Tropes in Waiting For God

  • All Take and No Give: A good portion of the relationship between Jane and Harvey, professionally and personally, with Harvey being the Taker.
  • Ascended Extra: Basil Makepeace is a prime example of this. He originally started off as a background character with very few lines. His presence is more developed in series 2. It's not until series 3 that he turns into a major character going so far as to help Diana and Tom in their adventures plus becoming a well-established friend of the latter.
  • Black Comedy: And how! Viewers find themselves laughing at the crooked manager Harvey being hit in the balls, impersonated, and tricked into appearing to potential business partners naked!
  • Believing Their Own Lies: In one episode, Tom Ballard tries to get a job at his son's food company as a quality control expert. He tells everyone he succeeded and uses that just combined with his daftness (see Cloud Cuckoo Lander below) as leverage against his son. He later reveals that he never actually got that job in the first place, and that he'd tricked his son into believing he had. Diana says, "But I believed you, too!" to which Tom replies, "Me, too! I believed me!"
  • Casanova Wannabe: Perhaps Basil had more success in his younger days, but he isn't giving up now.
  • The Chew Toy: No one likes Marion, and seeing her reaction to being outright insulted can be quite entertaining. Because of her personality and the way she treats the other characters, the audience isn't encouraged to sympathize with her. She does have a few sympathetic moments, but her character remains unchanged even after she gets into New Age-y ideas.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Tom, most certainly. He's got his head in the clouds so often that when he makes a genuinely valid point, everyone thinks that is a sign he has lost his mind. There is one time when Tom explains that he's fully aware he's living in a fantasy world. He points out that in the real world he's old, sick, and in constant pain, while in his fantasies he's a dashing, young hero having marvelous adventures.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In "The Thief", when the prospect of the cops showing up is brought up, the denizens promptly start talking about which cop they want to show up.
  • Cool Old Lady: If you're not on Diana's bad side, then she can be a clever, fun-loving, interesting woman, having had an adventurous career as a reporter before her retirement.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Harvey Bains, who would be running Bayview at a profit and milking as much dosh out of the residents as possible if not for Diana and Tom.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Diana, and she's quite good at it, as this exchange from the show's very first episode makes clear.
    Jane: Sometimes I think you enjoy sniping away at me and the residents.
    Diana: No, Jane. I don't. You lot are sitting ducks. You need a moving target to enjoy it.
  • December–December Romance: Tom and Diana, who meet each other in their seventies and quite love each other by the series' end.
  • Dirty Old Man: Basil Makepeace, who prefers to introduce himself as "Bayview's Resident Stud" and flirts with anything remotely feminine no matter her age.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Tom and Diana finally start a sexual relationship, clues they have been at it include fictional religious references, furniture damage and taking extra sugar in your tea (like, fifty extra sugars in your tea, or on one memorable occasion simply upending the sugar bowl)
  • Long List: Diana has a full driving licence. At one point Tom reads out a list of vehicles she is entitled to drive, starting with normal vehicles and ending up with heavy machinery.
  • Mood Whiplash: The later seasons have a surprising amount of drama, although they are no less hilarious. Many episodes flip multiple times between comedy and seriousness, often in the same scene.
  • Narcissist: Harvey Baines is a textbook case of this as his constant self-worship and efforts to please himself show. The constant threats Harvey's behavior causes for the residents of Bayview are often the main crux of episode plots.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: It is clear that Tom has been doing this for so long that he is Becoming the Mask.
  • Odd Couple: Diana and Tom. Indeed, Diana explicitly compares the fastidious Tom to Felix Unger when they move in together.
  • Out with a Bang: Discussed. After Tom and Diana become lovers, Tom's heart condition becomes a source of much humour.
    Tom: Tell me a better way to go and I'll call you a liar.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Most of the humour relating to Tom and Diana's affair comes from Tom's son and daughter-in-law.
  • Runaway Bride: Played with. Unhappy with his status of being Diana's 471st lover, Tom piles increasing amounts of pressure on her to accept his marriage proposal. He then jilts her at the altar, delighting her and achieving a unique status as the only man to do that.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Jane. She is still smitten for Harvey after being repeatedly abused by him and even told point-blank by him that he hates her.
  • Very Special Episode: Most of the series, actually, but some episodes stand out more than others. There's one where Tom suffers from a blocked urinary tract from an enlarged prostate and is too embarrassed to tell anyone. Cue humorous scenes of Diana thinking Tom is hiding an affair ending up in a true emergency followed by the long speech from Diana scolding Tom for not letting anyone know he was ill (addressed to the audience really). Other episodes deal with Diana seriously wanting to commit suicide when she is convinced she has cancer and another where Diana does not take her diabetes seriously and ends up terribly ill.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Diana's niece has her moments, when someone needs tearing into.
    Diana: Of course, I would have broken her leg too.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: Diana finally drives the odious Bayview manager Harvey Bains into an asylum or so everyone thought; he was just faking it and while everyone hates Harvey, they are still mad at her for doing it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The arc in which Diana manages to finally drive Harvey Baines mad. Harvey's faking it, of course, but the backlash against Diana is considerable.
  • Where There's a Will, There's a Sticky Note: When Tom has surgery, his greedy daughter-in-law insists that everything in his and Diana's apartment be labeled so Diana can't claim anything of his.
  • Younger Than They Look: Stephanie Cole, who plays Diana, is well-known for playing characters who are a good deal older than she is. She's actually about 20 years younger than Diana is supposed to be.
  • Your Mom: From Jane to Harvey, in Korean: "Your mother slept with a tiger!" It's a Korean compliment.