Series / Waiting for God

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 is rapidly losing his marbles, although to what extent he plays it up is unclear. Diana is at Bayview because a life of action and adventure has left her without any family, aside from her niece, and Tom is there because his family wanted rid of him.

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 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.
  • Ambiguously Human: Harvey, according to Diana.
  • 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.
  • The Chew Toy: No one likes Marian, 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 the new age 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: Diana, in spades.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Harvey Baines.
  • 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"
  • Dirty Old Woman: Several. When they start to make their moves on Tom, Diana explains that this is all because women simply live longer than men so they have to work harder to find a man at their ages. She then explains that working harder can also mean gouging out the eyes of any hussy who looks at your man. They go back to chasing Basil.
    • Harvey's mother definitely counts.
    Mrs Bains: It was so dull in there I had to fight down an urge to jump on the table and shout "Bum!" and then follow it up with a display of the same.
  • 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)
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Tom's son Geoffrey is so boring that he thinks shelving is fascinating, and his wife Marian is so wild that she sleeps with literally anyone, drinks and drugs herself so much that she is almost permanently comatose, and is so selfish she actually wishes death on Tom so that she can get his money.
  • 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.
  • Love at First Sight: Jane describes how she fell in love with Harvey as this.
  • Love Martyr: Jane thinks of herself as this.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: (If you count their veranda as "inside")
  • 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 Baines 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 but that part's more the next trope.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The aforementioned arc in which Diana manages to drive Harvey Baines mad.
  • 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 proverb.