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Series / One Foot in the Grave

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Victor and Margaret... and a gnome.
"I don't believe it!"
Victor Meldrew, catchphrase

One Foot in the Grave was a British TV comedy show that followed the misadventures of cranky Reluctant Retiree Victor Meldrew. The story begins with Victor being forced into early retirement, because his job, where he greets people and signs them in at an office building, is replaced by a small electronic box.

Suddenly and unexpectedly finding himself "retired", he looks for other means to keep himself occupied. More often than not this means he lands himself in unbelievable and frustrating circumstances. It seems no facet of his life can leave him without complaints.

Despite the situation, it subverts the Dom Com genre. It is a significant Black Comedy, and there are dark moments where it's not meant to be funny, sometimes Tear Jerker material.

Written by David Renwick, whose other major work is Jonathan Creek: despite the difference in subject matter, one immediately notices the parallels of being both being very dark and having intricately clever plots.

The main characters were:

  • Victor Meldrew, the protagonist.
  • Margaret Meldrew, his long-suffering wife. Acts as a Straight Man to his silliness.
  • Mrs Warboys, a friend of Margaret.
  • Patrick and Pippa, their neighbors for several years. Victor and Patrick don't get on.
  • Mr Swainey, their other neighbor. He's a bit peculiar and nice-to-the-point-of-annoying.

Came tenth in Britains Best Sitcom.

They say I might as well face the tropes:

  • Adaptational Explanation: In "Timeless Time", Victor and Margaret have a brief conversation about someone called "Stuart". There's just enough context for the viewer to surmise that he is most likely a child of the Meldrews who died when young, but anything more than that is Left Hanging and Stuart is never mentioned again. The novelization not only confirms he was their son, but goes into some detail about the circumstances of his birth and death, as well as giving an explanation for why the Meldrews never had any other children.
  • The Alleged Car: Car trouble is a running theme right from the very first episode. Reaches its pinnacle in "The Man Who Blew Away", in which Margaret and Victor are thrilled when the car is finally stolen... and horrified when it turns up again, just as they're rhapsodising about the reliable new car they're going to buy with the insurance money.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: Patrick and his twin brother may behave exactly like one another, but they certainly don't look exactly like one another. Of course, that doesn't stop the comedic mix-ups from happening anyway. But mostly because the man whom Victor assumes to be Patrick's twin is actually Patrick himself.
  • All Part of the Show: During a dress rehearsal for the theatre, a man falls from the top of the stage and seriously injures himself to the panicky consternation of the rest of the cast. Victor, who has just arrived at the theatre and knows nothing about the play apart from the fact that Margaret's playing a character in it, sits and laughs at what he thinks is brilliant slapstick.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelisation fills in a number of backstories and noodle incidents. Your mileage may vary on whether it's funnier not to be told exactly what happened to the previous owner of 19 Riverbank, or what became of the runaway python that the Meldrews inadvertently took as hand luggage on a flight to Athens.
  • Ambiguous Ending: So did Margaret end up poisoning the accidental killer of her husband at the end of the show? We'll never know, although the fact that she seems to be carrying on her normal business in the Comic Relief special suggests that she didn't.
  • Anachronic Order: The final episode "Things Aren't Simple Any More" jumps about between the "present day" and two periods of the past, one before Victor's death, the other (concerning how Margaret came to know Glynis) after it.
  • Artifact of Death: The scorpion encased in resin that Victor and Margaret are given (and that they can't get rid of) is said to bring bad luck to whomever holds it. Eventually subverted when the old lady who they give it to uses it to smash a knife-wielding mugger in the head.
  • Ascended Extra: Mr. Swainey started off as a relatively minor character in the pilot episode. After the Meldrews were forced to move house at the start of series 2, he became their neighbour, and a recurring character.
  • Ashes to Crashes: A particularly nauseating version where Victor spills the ashes of what he thinks is Mr. Swainey's mother, when in fact it's just herbal tea. He immediately incinerates some toilet roll in cooking oil as a replacement, which inevitably he later ends up drinking.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Invoked frequently, usually just as Margaret appears to have reached the end of her tether.
    Margaret: "He's the most sensitive person I've ever met... and that's why I love him, and why I constantly want to ram his head through a television screen."
  • Audio Adaptation: Adapted for radio, but that had only four episodes, two of which were, more-or-less, straight readthroughs of the already less-visual bottle episodes. The others were the first episode, and the one in which the Meldrews discover their house has burnt down.
  • Beast in the Building:
    • In "The Return of the Speckled Band", an Indian Python escapes a garden centre and ends up in the Meldrew's house. Whilst one man manages to catch a glimpse of it, the Meldrews never do, and the snake ends up in their suitcase for their holiday to Anthens. The next episode, "In Luton Airport No-One Can Hear You Scream", reveals that the snake didn't survive the holiday, its corpse being eventually found in the suitcase.
    • In "Beware the Trickster on the Roof", a mishap involving a will leads to a cow being put into the back garden of the Meldrews. It ends up wandering into the conservatory of Patrick and Pippa.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: Victor and Margaret seem to receive an ungodly amount of junk mail.
    Victor: "Crap, crap, crap, gas bill, crap." [Later in the same scene:] "That's all you get these days. Everywhere you look. Junk! What's this? Another invitation to buy a hand-tooled guide to the Aztec civilisation?"
  • Bizarre Dream Rationalization: In "The Man Who Blew Away", Victor finds to his horror that his car, which had been stolen, has been found. He desperately hopes that it's all a bad dream, but Margaret has to tell him that it isn't.
  • Black Comedy: Uncommonly dark, tackling such subjects as death, kidnapping, illness, child abduction, violence, abusive parents, suicide and the pain of growing old... and yet still managing to wring humour out of them.
  • Black Comedy Pet Death: "We Have Put Her Living in the Tomb" features the deaths of two pet tortoises Played for Laughs - the first one is accidentally roasted alive, with some extra humor coming from a guy trying to ask the Meldrews about satellite television whilst they try to save the tortoise. The second one is unknowingly Buried Alive as part of a Dead Pet Sketch gone wrong.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: In the episode "The Futility of the Fly", the West End backer looking at a play based on the Meldrews complains about the string of Contrived Coincidences and unexplained incidents. His final verdict is "I don't believe it."
  • Bottle Episode: One of these per series became traditional.
    • "Timeless Time" (series 2), set entirely in Victor and Margaret's bedroom during a sleepless night.
    • "The Beast in the Cage" (series 3), set entirely in a car stuck in a traffic jam.
    • "The Trial" (series 4), set entirely in Victor and Margaret's home while Victor waits for a jury duty call; notably, it is told in real time and Victor is the only character in the entire episode.
    • "Rearranging the Dust" (series 5), set entirely in a solicitor's waiting room
    • "Threatening Weather" (series 6), set entirely in Victor and Margaret's home during a power cut.
    • The two Comic Relief episodes; one with Victor in the bath (which was itself originally intended for "The Trial") and the other at the bedside of a relative in a coma.
  • Brick Joke: At the start of series 3, Victor and Margaret's television and VCR get stolen. Later, in the second-last episode of that series, the burglars actually call Victor and ask if he can help them get the VCR's timer function working properly.
  • Britain Is Only London: Averted. The series never says explicitly where Victor and Margaret live, but it's implied that they live in a town on the outskirts of the Greater London area. In any case, the series also acknowledges the existence of other places in the UK, including the Midlands town of Kettering, which is where Margaret's mother lives.
  • Butt-Monkey: Oh yes. Whatever Victor's faults might be, having a tree planted in your downstairs loo, having a chimney sweeping brush jammed up your dressing gown immediately after sitting on a roasting tray with spikes in it and having your name incorrectly listed as the editor of a local newspaper - with residents angry at you unjustly for that - does qualify you as a victim.
  • Call-Back: Usually in the form of Patrick mentioning things that Victor has done (or, to be accurate, things he thinks Victor did) in previous episodes.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: In "The Man Who Blew Away", Victor opens up a Christmas cracker and realises they've been tampered with when he finds a joke insulting him. He seems particularly offended by the fact that the joke isn't even coherent.
    Victor: Question: "What's the difference between Victor Meldrew and a chef who keeps dropping his pancakes?" Answer: "They're both useless tossers!" [...] It doesn't even work. Look, it's got, "What's the difference between..." And then it says we're "both useless tossers". How is that the difference? That's not the difference. That's what we've got in common!
  • Casting Gag: Fans of KYTV will be delighted to see Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins reunited — as brothers, no less — in "The Dawn of Man".
  • Catchphrase: "I don't believe it!" said by Victor, with extra emphasis on the last syllable of "believe".
    • Richard Wilson has long been hounded to repeat this phrase. When he made a guest appearance as himself on Father Ted, he only agreed to say the line on the condition that he got to beat the title character up (which he did, twice) after Ted shouted it at him. Supposedly he now repeats the line only at charity events.
      • Also, to a lesser extent, "What in the name of bloody hell?"
      • And "Oh, God!" with God drawled out, and pronounced more like gawwwd.
      • "What in the name of sanity" is another one that seems to crop up often too, especially when something particularly mental happens, such as someone taking his word too literally and planting a small palm tree bonsai in his downstairs toilet.
  • Censored for Comedy: In "Hole in the Sky". When the angry woman goes up into the loft, you can still hear faint bleeps long after her voice has become completely muffled and unintelligible.
  • Characterization Marches On: In early episodes, Margaret acts more as a comic foil to Victor's misfortunes. Examples include fearfully asking if a cat found frozen in their freezer is definitely dead and mentioning a friend who died of a terminal illness. When Victor reminds her that the woman actually fell from a cliff, Margaret retorts she only did so because "she went to the seaside to convalesce". In later episodes, she develops into a more complex character. The final episode laments that Margaret has evolved into an even more curmudgeonly and no-nonsense figure than her late husband.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early on in one episode, a struggling boxer is being talked down to by his father/manager for being too compassionate and easy-going. He then says that he is going to try and get him to lose his temper with just one person to bring out his "hidden aggression". Of course, anyone familiar with the show already knows exactly how this is going to end.
    • The series is a succession of Chekhov's Gunmen passing through Chekhov's Armoury. Quite often, even the most inconsequential details or objects, or scenes that just seem like throwaway gags, will return with a vengeance later in the episode. Victor catches fleas from the neighbour's cat? It's used at the end. Victor complains about the junk in his garden? Used at the end. Victor talks about someone losing their wig? Used at the end. Hard.
    • An aversion, which must be Renwick playing with us, is the decorated hunting stick that Nick Swainey gives Victor when he moves house. Unlike just about everything else, the boomerang doesn't come back. We do see it again, but only as set-dressing.
    • Another aversion is the fly statue that someone mails to Victor in "The Futility of the Fly". Unlike the above example it seems to be a payoff to something established earlier, but no one has any idea where it came from.
  • Chew Toy: Victor's world seems to have it in for him. Virtually all of his bizarre experiences are the result of not-so-hilarious misunderstandings. E.g. the time he went for a foot massage and the masseur turned out to have been using her breasts, which had him branded as a master of vice by the news, who turned up at his house to film him from his first-floor window, with the TV presenter giving commentary in a cherry picker. Can you believe that?
  • Chick Magnet: Kazanzi, the workman hired to deal with the incursion of tree roots into the Meldrews' garden in "The Pit and the Pendulum" — who is, as Lampshaded by Victor's "seaside boarding house" comment, an Expy of Mr Johnson from the Fawlty Towers episode "The Psychiatrist". Margaret and Pippa both adore him, as do a gaggle of schoolgirls. Neither Patrick nor Victor are impressed.
  • Christmas Episode: Several, and sometimes they were the only episode of the year: 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995-1997.
  • Clean Pretty Reliable: Cruelly subverted. When Mrs. Warboys attempts CPR on a collapsed magician, she ends up crushing a pigeon he had hidden in his jacket. And the escapologist who'd actually had the heart attack was locked in his cabinet.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mrs. Warboys, whose grasp of reality is tenuous at best.
    • Margaret sometimes lapses into this despite usually being the Straight Man (er, woman). Every now and then she will make some wild claim that makes very little sense, sometimes seeming a bit out of character. For example, when talking about friends who have died to her husband Victor, she mentions someone who apparently died of a terminal disease:
    Victor: What, measles?note 
    Margaret: Well she died, didn't she?
    Victor: ...She fell off a cliff!
    Margaret: Only because she went to the seaside to convalesce!
    • Pippa is set up as a Cloudcuckoolander in her first appearance (in "Who Will Buy?") but it doesn't last. Later on she's a bit naive but never again to that extent.
    • Patrick's persecution complex can sometimes lead him into this, for example when he is taken to hospital with a hermit crab attached to his genitals, he is absolutely convinced that Victor has trained the crab to attack him. In that area. In fact, Victor had nothing to do with it and didn't even know the crab existed. In a later episode, Patrick refers back to the incident and is still convinced it was a trained crab.
  • Contrast Montage: Victor, whilst working as a footman (a job it is implied he doesn't enjoy) finally snaps after being berated by a hotel guest for not helping him and his wife out of their taxi in a sufficiently obsequious manner... because he notices a disabled person across the road struggling to get out of their car on their own.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Subverted by Victor who, unlike most men in sitcoms, actually appears to be pretty good at cooking most of the time. His propensity for spicy food can sometimes catch people off-guard, though, and seafood most definitely isn't his forté. Despite being a fairly good cook, he isn't so discerning about what he actually eats however.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Victor especially, but also Margaret, Patrick and occasionally Mrs Warboys. Nearly every event in Victor's horrible life seems to be specifically engineered by a malicious God to be as embarrassing, enraging and unpleasant for him as possible.
  • Crapsack World: Even if you ignore Victor's continual mishaps, his universe seems unnaturally full of shysters, thieves, muggers and burglars, and everyone who surrounds the Meldrews either loathes them or is incredibly irritating. The series' overarching message, if it has one, seems to be "Life is cruel, utterly meaningless and basically horrible".
  • Creator Cameo: David Renwick appears in the opening episode of the the final series, as a TV doctor explaining Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Eric Idle, who wrote and performed the theme tune, appears in a Christmas Episode as a Government environmental inspector. In the final episode, composer Ed Welch (also the composer of quite a few British game shows, including Blockbusters, Catchphrase and Treasure Hunt UK) appears as a cabaret turn, while the crew seen filming a supermarket advert includes One Foot's director Christine Gernon, producer Jonathan Llewellyn and director of photography Geoff Harrison.
  • Curse Cut Short: In a series which normally contains no swearing stronger than "bloody" (though "shit" is uttered in a couple of episodes), Margaret narrowly averts a Precision F-Strike with this one in "Descent into the Maelstrom":
    Victor: There's nothing worse than that, trying to get off to sleep with some mindless racket going on outside. People jabbering away and God knows what. That could drive you absolutely potty, I know for myself...
    Margaret: WILL YOU SHUT THE F... [pause, then as calmly as she can muster] ...front door quietly when you go out, please?'''
  • Crying Wolf: Averted in one episode, when one of the handyman twins repeatedly plays pranks on Margaret by pretending to be injured. Later on, she finds him lying motionless on the floor and ignores him entirely, believing it to be yet another joke. She remains indifferent for quite a while, and the viewer naturally begins to suspect that it's genuine this time, but she eventually caves in and calls an ambulance, whereupon he rises to his feet and laughs triumphantly.
  • Dead All Along: Subverted in one episode, which begins with Margaret in a graveyard writing a letter to a relative, which alludes to 'horrible events'. It is heavily implied that Victor is dead, with the events of the letter being shown in a flashback. It even shows the name "Victor Meldrew" on the gravestone that she is visiting. When she returns home, she picks up Victor's hat and a voice-over of Victor is heard saying his catchphrase. We assume that this is in Margaret's head ...until she opens the door to the living room, whereupon it turns out that Victor was Alive All Along. Turns out that the grave she was visiting belonged to Victor's father, and the 'events' simply referred to the typical mishaps that they have to deal with in every episode.
    • Played straight in the 2001 Comic Relief episode.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: "Things Aren't Simple Any More" combines this with a Dead Hat Shot when Victor is run over and killed, with the only thing we see being his hat and hand falling into view, although a later flashback does give us a glimpse of Victor's body as Margaret finds it.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: Victor and Margaret end up taking care of a pet tortoise named Kylie. Naturally, it does not survive the experience. Also twists the "replacement pet" aspect; Margaret secretly decides to go out and buy a similar-looking tortoise so as not to upset the little girl who owns it. However, prior to her arrival, Victor calls the family to inform them that Kylie has expired. Since Margaret delivered the new tortoise in a closed box and never mentioned her scheme to anyone, they end up burying the live tortoise in a scene that perfectly straddles the line between Black Comedy and Tear Jerker.
    • When one of Victor's magician friends suffers a heart attack, Margaret and Mrs. Warboys try to bring him around (unaware that they're trying to revive the wrong man) and Mrs. Warboys feels a fluttering sensation in his chest. She tries to massage his heart... and then opens his shirt to reveal one of the magician's doves, who has been crushed to death by her attempt at CPR.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Patrick quickly turns into one of these once the feud between him and Victor starts. Given that his twin brother, who never meets Victor, is shown to be exactly the same during in his sole appearance in the show, odds are this is something that runs in the Trench family, although Victor certainly brings out the worst in Patrick.
    • Most of the characters get their moments of this at different points in the series.
  • Deus ex Machina: An uncharacteristically saccharine ending to the first Christmas special, when Mr Burridge turns out not to be dead after all. This might be put down to Early-Installment Weirdness, and the fact that the novelisation Retcons away the happy ending as All Just a Dream suggests there may have been a spot of Creator Backlash later.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Discussed Trope. There are many times throughout the series where Victor, and sometimes Patrick, will suggest that someone or something is arranging the world to annoy them. Of course, they don't know about David Renwick...
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Victor usually goes a step or two beyond what most people would do when someone wrongs him. However, this absolutely pales in comparison to what other people do to Victor. One instance had him insulting the children of a sign-maker after they damaged one of his windows by playing cricket on his front lawn. Their father's response? Paint the image of Victor's face into a pub sign with "The Pain in the Arse" written where the pub's name would normally go, then erect the sign on a flagpole outside the Meldrews' house in the early hours of the morning.
  • Downer Ending: Pretty much every recurring character in the series ends up in a worse situation than at the start of the show. Victor ends up dead, therefore leaving Margaret (who also loses her mother during the course of the series) a widow. Mrs. Warboys ends up a divorcee after unwittingly driving her husband into the arms of another woman. Mr. Swainey's mother and grandmother die during the course of the series, and there are signs that he's starting to suffer serious depression from the lack of any real progress in his life. Mildred commits suicide, which leads to Ronnie suffering a nervous breakdown. Patrick and Pippa are the only ones to be even vaguely better off, as Patrick has a much higher-paid job, the two have moved to a larger house, and Patrick gets an epic last laugh over Victor in the penultimate episode. But even in their case, it's implied their good luck will not last long, as Patrick is well on his way into turning into a younger version of Meldrew by the end of the series, as Pippa frequently lampshades.
    • The end of the final episode; Margaret has lost her husband, apparently lost contact with every single one of her friends from earlier in the series (where is the inseparable Mrs Warboys?) and the one friend she does have turns out to be Victor's murderer. Depending on your opinion when it comes to revenge, the fact that it's implied Margaret may have murdered the woman in cold blood can also be a pretty accurate example of this trope.
    • The special that came after the final episode at least lifts the blackness of the ending into a gray area as it shows that Victor has, somehow, not known he has been dead for quite some time and seems to have completely forgot he got hit by a car. When he realises it, he seemed more in shock at the revelation than actually depressed. It also provides good evidence that Margaret did not kill the woman at the end of the final episode as it shows her seemingly going about her life as she always has. For a show that goes out of its way to punish the Meldrews for every minor infraction there could be, there's no way she could have gotten away with murder.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • "The Man Who Blew Away" has Victor being visited by a man named Mr. Foskett who has a history of suicide after his wife left him, but has seemingly managed to find happiness again through remarriage. When he finds out that his second wife left him, however, he tries to kill himself by throwing himself naked off the roof. Although this attempt seemingly doesn't work out, the Meldrews later learn that he threw himself out of a window at a police station and passed away in the hospital.
    • Mildred's fate in the final series, hanging herself during a game of Happy Families.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Series 1 has the Meldrews living in a different house to the one that they would occupy for the rest of the series, no Patrick and Pippa or Nick Swainey (outside of a small role in the first episode for the latter), and Victor only says "I don't believe it!" once, in the sixth episode. Unlike the later series, the incidental music is a Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack. The show was also a little more like a traditional sitcom in format, with the more tragicomic and dramatic aspects not really ramped up until Series 2.
  • Elder Abuse: In "Hearts of Darkness", Victor helps to liberate a bunch of rest home residents from their cruel caretakers.
  • Escalating War: Between Victor and Patrick.
  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It: In "Dreamland", Victor buys a pair of shoes that literally come from a dead man note  and a lurid woollen sweater. He's uneasy about the former and Margaret can't stand the latter. Sitting on a park bench, he throws both garments in a nearby litter-bin — only for a tramp to come along and rifle through the bin. The tramp likes the shoes, but throws the sweater back.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: In the novelisation this happens at an old folks' Christmas party, thanks to a batch of spiked mince pies.
  • Exact Words: The source of many of the misunderstandings that cause Victor (and sometimes other characters) such problems.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The opening and closing themes sung by Eric Idle describe Victor quite well. ("It's true that my body has seen better days / But give me half a chance and I can still misbehave") — though not all of it applies to him: "I have to pop my teeth in to chew" is completely wrong, for instance, and when the BBC released a set of TV soundtracks as a CD, the blurb on the back actually went to the trouble of pointing out how inaccurate some of the other lines are. The extra lyrics to the Extended Theme Tune (which Idle wrote with the benefit of having actually seen the show) are more specific to him and further mirror Victor's defiance.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Victor will eat just about anything and has a partiality to various bizarre and disgusting recipes, including curry so hot that it would be inedible to anyone else, squid in Stilton sauce, neat whisky alternating with handfuls of Smarties, and pizza topped with anchovies, chili peppers and pineapple.
    Pippa: What sort of things does he eat?
    Margaret: Anything, of any sort or description, in the most hideous and disgusting of combinations. Food you wouldn't put in the same cupboard, he'd happily slice up together on his Weetabix[...]I think he lost all sense of taste years ago.
  • Flanderization: Mostly inverted for Victor. In series 1 he is more in line with his image in popular imagination of the nasty man: tying his nephews up in the garage, and snapping a man's walking stick. By later series he is more often the hero of a situation.
  • Flatline: Subverted. Margaret is hooked up to life support as Victor stays with her, holding her hand. The heart monitor does the standard "beep.. beep.. beep.. beep.. beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep", and prompts a Really Dead Montage from Victor, and then a nurse wanders by, complains that the heart monitor had been faulty all week, bashes it, and apologises, as it starts beeping regularly again. Note that at one stage, the episode in question was meant to be the series finale, and Margaret would have been Killed Off for Real, subverting the audience's expectation that Victor's misadventures would eventually take a fatal toll on his health. David Renwick thought this ending would be too unjust, though, and the BBC also changed their mind about ending the series at that point. However, Renwick decided to keep her "death" scene to fake out the audience.
  • Formerly Fit: Nick Swainey has notably gained weight following the death of his mother in "Endgame", which Victor acknowledges. He's back to normal weight by the time of his final appearance in "The Dawn of Man" however. This is a case of Real Life Writes the Plot as his actor had needed to gain weight for a role and was unable to lose it before filming.
  • For the Evulz: Some of Victor's acts of revenge come off as petty at best, but you can't help but appreciate them!
    • In "Broken Reflection", at some point in the recent past he got tailgated by an impatient computer salesman who yelled an insult when he finally overtook Victor's car 3 miles later. In retaliation, Victor noted down his firm's details that were printed on the car door and, in his words, "took the liberty of inviting him around just to deliberately waste his time for the best part of an entire morning!" before tearing up a sales contract. His satisfied sigh when the salesman leaves in anger, as well as Victor's frankly gutsy move, is both hilarious and kind of inspirational.
  • The Ghost: Mr. Swainey's mother. His first episode as a regular member of the cast implies that she doesn't actually exist and that Swainey is a Norman Bates type, but this is disproved near the end of the same episode, when Margaret is called around to his house to help put her to bed. Victor never actually sees her for himself however, and he has doubts about her existence for the rest of the series.
  • Gift of the Magi Plot: In the 1990 Christmas special "Who's Listening?", Victor and Margaret promised each other they wouldn't buy each other anything for Christmas. On Christmas evening, Margaret surprises Victor by telling him she did buy him a present; a replacement for his broken watch. Victor gratefully accepts, and then confesses that he did the same thing. Margaret gets excited as he picks up a jewellery box... only for him to say that he'd actually bought himself a new watch too.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Victor, naturally. Of course, given how much crap he gets put through, and given that many of the youths in the programme actually are obnoxious brats or outright criminals, his complaining is not unjustified.
    • There is one exception to the "youths being either obnoxious or criminal", in an episode in which 2 teenagers rush towards Victor as he ducks for cover in the street as he fears the explosion of a hand grenade and start hitting him. They aren't aware of the context and have just seen him lying on the ground screaming, and therefore, not unreasonably, assume he's having a heart attack. They're hitting his chest to try and give him CPR. Victor doesn't realise this, and assumes they're yobs trying to mug him.
    • Most of the time Victor is shown to be a very decent man, for example, when Margaret finds £80 he goes to a lot of trouble to return it to its rightful owner, and of course is humiliated in return by being locked in a cupboard. But the people around him, in the world he lives in, always blame him for his own misfortune.
    • It's worth mentioning that unlike most characters known mostly for their grumpiness, Victor is kind to children unless they're outright troublesome to him. He is shown several times playing with them and even takes a job as a lollipop man to help them cross streets safely - not things your average grump would do.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Victor is listening to a comedy tape (Monty Python) as Mrs. Warboys is tearfully explaining that she thinks her husband is having an affair and that she's contemplating suicide. Victor, naturally, continually bursts out laughing.
  • The Hero Dies: And fans actually left flowers at the filming location.
  • Humans Are Bastards: A recurring theme Played for Drama and laughs; see also Crapsack World.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Two of Angus Deayton's former Radio Active and KYTV co-stars, Geoffrey Perkins and Michael Fenton Stevens, made guest appearances as Patrick's brother and brother-in-law respectively.
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y: "I like my toast like I like my women. Golden brown, and covered in marmalade."
  • Intoxication Ensues: After Victor takes up a job as a gardener for Patrick's boss, Margaret notices him becoming increasingly chirpier. It turns out he's been inadvertently inhaling large amounts of cocaine after a drug dealer hid his stash in the fertiliser, and to top it all off it kills all the plants too.
  • Jerkass: Patrick has little in the way of likeable qualities. In addition to being snarky and standoffish with most people he interacts with, some of his petty revenge plots against Victor cease to be reasonable and are instead flat out cruel, such as making him rake through dog muck for a key he possessed all along.
  • Jury Duty: "The Trial" is about Victor hanging about the house as he waits for a phone call summoning him for jury duty. Subverted in that we never find out what happens when he does get called — or even whether he does.
  • Karma Houdini: Patrick appears to achieve this status in one episode, where his pet dachshund swallows Victor's spare door key, and Patrick responds by getting Victor to sift through dog poop to find it. It turns out that the dog never actually swallowed the key in the first place, which Patrick full well knew. Patrick seems to get away with this, since Margaret still believes the situation is Victor's own fault... until Pippa unknowingly gives Victor a copy of Patrick's diary, in which he gloats about what he's been doing.
    • Patrick also appears to go completely unpunished for shooting a trailerload of garden gnomes in the first Christmas special. Discharging an unlicensed semi-automatic weapon in a residential area is something the law normally takes a very dim view of.
    • Patrick ultimately ends the series truimphant, humiliating Victor one final time in a hospital and getting a better paid job in the process. Although it's implied his good luck won't last long.
    • Several one-time characters or offscreen antagonists of Victor often get away with victimising him or getting the last laugh, even if they were just as provocative as him. This can become even harsher in effect keeping in mind, regardless of his eccentricities, they are still abusing an elderly citizen.
  • The Klutz: The main schtick of Peter Cook's one-off character Martin Trout in "One Foot in the Algarve".
  • Last-Name Basis: Jean and Victor rather awkwardly remain on this throughout, despite Jean and Margaret being close friends.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: Victor hastily says that his address is "Dunn Hill", taken from a discarded Dunhill cigarette packet on the table.
  • Literal-Minded: Victor tells a deliveryman to put a tree in the downstairs loo. The deliveryman doesn't just leave the potted tree in the room - he literally plants it in the toilet bowl, with compost packed neatly around it.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Many of the episodes have one, e.g. "The Pit and the Pendulum", "Hearts of Darkness", "The Return of the Speckled Band", etc.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Stuck in gridlocked traffic.
  • Meaningful Echo: The inept message on Margaret's mother's answering machine takes on a whole new meaning after she dies.
  • Minimalist Cast: Richard Wilson is the only person who appears in "The Trial."
  • Missed Him by That Much: In the final episode, Victor goes off to a reunion for a company he used to work at, but finds that no one is able to come except for one possible candidate. After waiting for a while, he leaves by taxi. Only mere seconds after he leaves, said candidate pulls in and enters the pub where the reunion was being held. Becomes more tragic if one considers the fact that if he had waited a little longer, it was highly possible that he would have hung around and wouldn't have been mowed down by a car and killed as a result.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Happens when Victor starts doing odd jobs for a female artist. Rapidly exacerbated when Margaret finds an empty condom box in Victor's jacket, and by Victor's ambiguous statements about "putting his back out after being in that position for two hours." He was posing for a painting. The condom box was just litter that he picked up after someone tossed it in his garden.
    • Mrs. Warboys also does this with her husband, even going so far as to hire a private detective to tail him. He wasn't cheating at the time, but in a hilariously cruel twist, he ends up having an affair with the detective.
    • Patrick is Mistaken For Cheating in "The Wisdom of the Witch". First Pippa insinuates he's cheating with his secretary, then it turns out that the secretary has told her boyfriend they're sleeping together, to make him jealous. Which works rather too well.
    • Victor also thinks that Pippa is cheating on Patrick, after he catches her in the house of a rich, handsome man. It subsequently turns out that he's actually her brother, and Patrick is there as well.
    • Victor and Margaret manage the rare feat of mistaking themselves for cheats in one episode where they're on holiday at a seaside guest house. They subsequently end up getting revenge on their supposed partners for "taking advantage" of them — in reality they hadn't done this at all, but they were so generally obnoxious that it was hard to blame the Meldrews for taking the chance.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Victor mistakes Patrick for his gay brother (despite the fact they look nothing alike) due to Patrick carrying a pink umbrella and walking delicately down the road. Naturally, Victor then gives Patrick a video full of hardcore gay pornography.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Victor in "Who Will Buy?", though only by Pippa, and then only because she's being set up as a Cloudcuckoolander (a trait which gets dropped by her next appearance) - nobody else is daft enough to think he did it. There's also a lot of suspicion around Afonso in "One Foot in the Algarve", before Mrs Warboys works out the truth.
  • Mondegreen Gag: In "Dramatic Fever", Victor and Margaret are invited to a party. However, at the time the woman calls, Margaret has gone off to Kettering with her mother, and she mishears Victor saying Kettering as "catering". This mistake isn't realized until the Meldrews show up and the other people at the party complain about them not having brought any food, forcing them to improvise.
  • Mood Whiplash: This show can go from hilarious to melancholy and back again in the blink of an eye, often within the same episode, frequently within the space of a minute. One of the most prominent examples comes when Margaret returns home to find Victor buried up to his neck in the back garden, and has to cover his head with a flower pot to spare him from embarrassment when the neighbours visit. Afterwards, in the very same scene, she receives news that her mother has passed away.
  • Nails on a Blackboard: Victor is ferrying some manure to his allotment in a rusty old wheelbarrow that really needs some oil. Fellow gardeners fall by the wayside clutching their ears in agony as he squeals past.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Victor is justifiably nervous about performing a comedy ventriloquist act for the same audience as the bands "Orphanage Explosion" and "Anthrax Attack". (Subverted in the end however when both the audience and the punk band members themselves are shown enjoying it immensely.)
  • No Indoor Voice: Victor and Margaret's quiet dinner is repeatedly interrupted by a doctor at another table loudly discussing his experiences in the world of medical science. Victor eventually snaps and tells him to shut up, which leads to a literal Noodle Incident wherein he gets beaten up and has a helping of chow mein poured into his trousers.
  • Noodle Incident: After Victor and Margaret move into their new house, their neighbour Mr. Swainey mentions that many people have been reluctant to buy the property after "what happened to old Mr. Gittings." All that's ever said of it is that it involved razor blades and the bathroom. (If you really want to know what happened, it's explained in the novelisation.)
    • Victor has a recurring nightmare that falls under this trope, mostly because whenever Margaret confronts him about it, he claims not to know what she's talking about. All we know is that he has the nightmare roughly once per series, and it somehow involves pastry.
  • No Sympathy: Victor is the constant victim of this. Even Margaret, the person most aware of his Cosmic Plaything status, struggles to maintain any patience with what he goes through.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Pippa points out to a grouchy, vengeful Patrick that he's beginning to turn into Victor, the man he despises. She's right, too. Patrick even starts using some of Victor's catchphrases.
    • In the episode "The Broken Reflection", Victor dreads a fortnight-long visit from his brother Alfred, viewing him as a dim-witted disaster area. He realises they are not so different when (while bonding over old family photos), he recalls a time as a child when his hat caught fire. Which is exactly how we are introduced to Alfred.
  • Novelisation:
    • One was published in 1992; it contains many of the plotlines and jokes from the first three series but mixes them up so events from different TV episodes are juxtaposed in different ways. It also expands on a number of Noodle Incidents, for example telling us what happened on that holiday the Meldrews were setting off on at the end of "Return of the Speckled Band", and filling in the story of the mysterious "Stuart" mentioned in "Timeless Time". A couple of the storylines end very differently too; the alternate endings may represent nixed TV plots. In particular the storyline concerning the Meldrews taking a stranger to see a sitcom, thinking he's Jean's cousin Wilf, which on TV ends in mild embarrassment and no real damage done, goes enormously From Bad to Worse in the book.
    • A second volume, One Foot In The Grave And Counting was published in 2021, ignoring the inconvenient fact that Victor had been killed off and carrying on his misadventures into the new millennium (while also adapting various plotlines from the later series). Some editions were bundled with a reprint of the original novel.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In "The Executioner's Song", Pippa's justification for considering an affair (and later her reason for breaking it off) is bordering on Insane Troll Logic, but it's implied this is a deliberate ploy to assuage her guilt.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Victor's death was announced before filming on the final series began.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Common. Notable one occurs in the episode with Patrick's twin brother, where Victor is talking about said brother and Margaret about the American newsreader who looks like Mr. Swainey, leading to Victor assuming that Patrick and his brother are identical, which in turn results in him giving Patrick the video of hardcore gay porn.
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: Victor and Margaret frequently have "conversations" in this style.
  • Only Sane Man: Victor sometimes grades into this, as does Margaret from the second series. Word of God has stated that all of Victor's actions are proportionate to events in the bizarre universe the Meldrews live in. Can you honestly say you wouldn't end up like Victor after sixty-odd years in his hellish universe?
  • Outliving One's Offspring: "Timeless Time" very heavily implies that Victor and Margaret once had a son named Stuart who died fairly young. It's an implication that is confirmed by the books, which reveals that he died at the age of about 2 weeks of a hole in his heart (the doctors were pretty sure that his death was not due to the fact that he had been briefly kidnapped by another woman for several days).
  • Overly-Long Gag: In "Hearts of Darkness", Victor and Mrs Warboys, one foot each encased in the same lump of concrete, trudging very slowly uphill.
  • Overreacting Airport Security: In the first episode of Season 2, this happens to Victor offscreen; when an airport customs official asked him how he was today, he replied that he was "fine apart from the crack in [his] bottom". (He suffers from an anal fissure.) Apparently the drugs officers then spent two and a half hours searching for it. (It's described in more detail in the novelisation, which observes that saying it wasn't a pleasant affair would be "like saying a rhinoceros was not a set of fitted wardrobes".)
  • Overused Running Gag: David Renwick eventually came to see the catchphrase "I don't believe it!" as this and tried to ration its use - not very successfully, as Richard Wilson tended to end up throwing it in about Once an Episode regardless.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The death of Nick Swainey's mother and his substantial weight gain in "Endgame" came about because his actor, Owen Brenman, had been required to put on weight for another role and didn't have time to lose it. He would eventually lose it by the time of the final series, with Nick lampshading his previous weight during his final episode.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Many of the characters get to deliver these over the course of the series. One of the shortest and most biting is Margaret's putdown of a well-off, cultured gentleman who was vying for her affections.
    Margaret: Do you know what's actually worse than warm champagne?
    Margaret: No... I really don't think you do.
    • There is also a heroic one coming from Victor Meldrew himself when dealing with the owner of an abusive care home.
    Victor: Oh, I very nearly forgot.
    Miss Lander: Nearly forgot what?
    Victor: I very nearly forgot to call you an evil loathsome bastard. I wouldn't treat a sewer rat the way you treat these people and I shall be talking to the social services department first thing in the morning, to tell them about the sickening brutality that goes on around here in the name of geriatric care!
    Miss Lander: I have to look after the welfare of all my residents, not just one or two! You haven't the first understanding of the way their minds work, or the destructive behaviour they're capable of!
    Victor: I'm sorry? Uh, what language are you talking in now? It appears to be BOLLOCKS!
    • After taking the job of a doorman, Victor starts his first day being bullied and sneered at by two unsatisfied snobs. After the husband snarks he should buck up his act, Victor complies and, after swiping the husband's toupee off his head and throwing it down the drain, gives them a most scathing "apology" before driving off in their taxi, leaving them speechless.
    Victor: I am sorry neither of you can manage to master the mechanics of a door handle, it must be very complicated with your limited brainpower! Oh, and do forgive me for not getting the fur coat out...because if you hadn't chopped its legs off in the first place it would have climbed out on its own, but there we are. And do ask me if I want to go on working here where it means sucking up to odious bastards like you two every day, then I think I'd rather remain unemployed, thank you very much!
  • Reluctant Retiree: Victor Meldrew, replaced unceremoniously by a box, is left feeling old and useless.
  • Remembered Too Late: In "Hole in the Sky", Victor visits a Mr Croker to return £80 that the latter dropped in the street. When Pippa turns up and is very familiar with Mr Croker, Victor thinks she's having an affair and Hilarity Ensues. Of course Mr Croker is actually Pippa's brother — which really should have occurred to Victor as a possibility at least, considering he already knew Pippa's family name was Croker, and he'd even spent some "quality time" with her dad. He naturally makes a fool of himself before he realises.
  • Replacement Goldfish: In "The Pit and the Pendulum", Pippa observes (with piercing accuracy) that Patrick's dachshund puppy is his "baby substitute", after Pippa miscarried in a previous episode.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In "The Futility of the Fly" Victor receives a fly statue in the mail, and no one has any idea where it came from. Usually weird things like this are BrickJokes, but in this case no explanation is ever offered. This is even Lampshaded at the end of an episode by the producer of a play that was based on the incidents of the episode.
  • Right in Front of Me: In "Monday Morning Will Be Fine", Victor meets an old schoolmate down at the pub who, mistaking him for another former classmate named Steve, uses the opportunity to complain about Victor. Victor, realising what might happen if he told the truth, keeps up the lie with hilarious consequences.
  • Rule of Three: For such a common trope, surprisingly rarely used here, but signposted and then played out with the three cars in "The Exterminating Angel".
  • Sadist Teacher: In "Dreamland", Margaret recounts a story of her childhood involving her wondering why one of the two budgies she attempted to free wouldn't leave its cage. She got her answer when her teacher made her read it out in school, leading to her being laughed at by everyone and causing her to realize that the world was terrible. She believes that the teacher did it deliberately to mock her and recounts that even then, she wanted to hurt him.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: For some reason, the seemingly innocuous episode "Hole in the Sky" was rated 12 for DVD release while every other episode in the first five seasons was rated PG - including apparently more likely candidates for "12" rating such as "The Man Who Blew Away" (nudity and suicide) and "Hearts of Darkness" (with its notorious "elderly abuse" scene).
  • Scary Scarecrows: In one of the darker moments of the program, the series 4 episode "Heart of Darkness" ends with Victor taking revenge on some abusive nursing home staff by encasing their feet in cement and disguising them as scarecrows in a field.
  • Series Fauxnale: The 1997 Christmas Special, "Endgame", was supposed to be the final episode and originally would have ended with Margaret being Killed Off for Real.
  • Shout-Out: See Headphones Equal Isolation above.
    • The boxer in "One Foot In the Algarve" is named Hugo. He has the opposite problem to Victor, he's much too calm. Notice the names? Slight chance of a reference to Victor & Hugo (which would have been on air at the same time as writing the special) or the author Victor Hugo.
    • In "Hearts of Darkness" the nursing staff are watching an episode of Bottom (episode "Digger"). The scene they are watching is full of comedy violence, which is an interesting choice given how they treat their patients (definitely NOT so funny).
    • "Yes, it's hard to imagine having an erotic fantasy about Officer Dibble in Top Cat".
  • Show Within a Show: One episode featured a play based entirely around Victor's life, as penned by his cleaner. It's almost exactly the same as the show itself.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Parodied. Victor takes delivery of a large consignment of horse manure which is dumped at the end of his drive, so in order to stop people walking into it, he places fairy lights on top. When the public finds out that the manure was taken from a farm near a nuclear power plant, they immediately panic and think it's dangerously radioactive.
  • Silly Walk
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Victor and Patrick.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Zips from one extreme of the scale to another with remarkable agility; see Mood Whiplash.
  • Slower Than a Snail: In one episode, Victor and Margaret are being driven by Mrs. Warboys, who is going far too slow for Victor's liking. Mrs. Warboys protests that she can't drive fast on the narrow mountain road they're following, but Victor points out that while driving on a dual carriageway in Lisbon they were overtaken by "two blokes pushing a Transit van".
  • The Snark Knight: Victor. If you fall into the camp that believes that Patrick is merely a younger and less jaded version of Victor, it's safe to assume that he will turn into one too.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "The Man Who Blew Away" compounds its Downer Ending by playing out the credits to the accompaniment of "The Laughing Policeman".
  • Special Guest: Among those who made guest appearances were Peter Cook, Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims and Ray Winstone.
  • Spell My Name with an S: After a relative dies, Margaret gets a list of his possessions, and asks to have a "cot" from the list, thinking she can give it to some other relatives. It later turns out that the "cot" in question is actually a cow, and a hint as to how the mix-up occurred is given with the accompanying delivery letter, which spells Margaret's name as "Nargaret Medlrew."
    • A literal example of this trope happens in "Warm Champagne" — the street the Meldrews live on after the first series is called Riverbank, and when a nearby old people's estate called Riversbank opens it causes no end of confusion, eventually cumulating in one of the residents of Riversbank being mistakenly dropped off at Victor's house and put into the bed. Hilarity Ensues when Victor gets into bed with her, assuming her to be Margaret.
  • Spoiling Shout-Out: The fact that the very last sketch with these characters ever has Victor snarking that The Sixth Sense's Twist Ending is incredibly obvious makes The Reveal that Victor is Dead All Along and Margaret ignoring him is because he's a ghost and she can't hear him (just like in the movie) obvious to any knowing audience members about a minute in advance.
  • Stealth Pun: Besides obviously being a play on the regular title, the feature-length special "One Foot in the Algarve" has a literal meaning too. In case you don't get it, it's lampshaded at the very end of the credits when the title appears beneath a picture of the severed foot in question.
  • Stepford Smiler: Up to Series 6, Mildred was previously presented as an extremely jolly woman. However, "Tales of Terror" reveals this to have been a facade, with her suffering from bouts of depression, and she eventually manages to kill herself.
  • Stock Footage: The end credits for "Starbound" roll over the title sequence from Peter Davison's era of Doctor Who.
  • Take Our Word for It: Used when Victor attempts to craft a teddy bear using parts cannibalised from other toys. The completed project is never shown, but it's supposedly so hideous that Margaret, a grown woman, needs a stiff drink to steady her nerves after seeing it. And that's to say nothing of what happens when a young boy happens across it...
  • Take That!: A Noel Edmonds sweater that Victor has second thoughts about wearing is discarded by the tramp who finds it next to a bin.
  • Take That, Critics!: The series features a lot of potshots at TV critics, to varying degrees of subtlety. Probably the most blatant was in the series 6 premiere episode, where Victor sets up a successful window cleaning business, which dies literally overnight after an arts critic writes a scathing review of his work in a local newsletter, and Victor goes on a little speech about how critics shouldn't be so mean to people that are just trying to earn a living.
  • Title Theme Tune: "Clapped out, run down, too old to save / One foot in the grave."
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The post-finale Comic Relief sketch builds up to a rather sad surprise for Victor.
  • Tomato Surprise: In a special movie-length episode, a photographer ends up chasing Victor and co. all the way to Portugal in search of a very valuable roll of film that fell into Margaret's handbag, suffering no small amount of injuries and mishaps in his attempts to get it back without them noticing. It later turns out that he'd never lost the film in the first place; it had just slipped into the lining of his own jacket. Of course, given that he only realises this after losing said jacket in an earlier scene...
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Cosby (US), Mit einem Bein im Grab (Germany), En fot i graven (Sweden) and Met één been in het graf (Holland).
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Despite being the Chew Toy of a cruel universe, Victor occasionally manages to bring one of his schemes to satisfying fruition, such as humiliating a rude Upper-Class Twit or drugging and torturing a bunch of care workers who are abusing pensioners.
    • There is also his revenge on a Door Lock fitter called Mr Leverick.
    • The episode "Descent into the Maelstrom" actually grants Victor a fairly clear cut Happy Ending. After discovering a friend of Margaret's that visited with her child is actually a escaped mental patient that abducted the infant, he keeps her in the dark and takes the fall for a pair of ear rings she stolenote , getting the usual earful from Margaret. However, not only does Margaret find out the truth and give a rare earnest apology, but a tip off he gave to the police helps in recovering the tot to his parents, who come to praise Victor personally.
  • Trivial Title: "The Man in the Long Black Coat" is a non-appearing character who is mentioned only briefly in the episode of that title, and is almost certainly so-described to justify a Shout-Out to the Bob Dylan song of that name. The song has even less to do with the episode.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In an in-universe example, Victor gets a hold of what he thinks is an abstract painting that was discarded by its artist. In actuality, it's just a piece of plywood covered in bird droppings. As the show continues, both he and Margaret gradually begin to appreciate the "composition". Patrick, however, immediately recognises it for what it is and points it out, much to Victor's chagrin.
  • Truth in Television: Mixed with Harsher in Hindsight with regards to series 4's "Heart of Darkness" episode, as in recent years, British care homes came under far heavier scrutiny after revelations about the conditions and treatment in a number of care homes across the country. Undoubtedly, some of the home residents could have used a Victor to rescue them.
  • Unintentional Final Message: One episode begins with Margaret phoning her mother to discuss coming to visit, and getting a recorded answerphone message addressed directly to her. Later she learns that her mother had died some time previously — her body wasn't found for several days — which not only makes the message the last thing Margaret ever heard from her mother, it also gives her words an eerie new significance.
    Hello? Margaret? This is your mum speaking. I'm sorry that I'm not here now, but that's because I'm somewhere else. I say, I'm somewhere else! But I expect you'll both be up here soon, won't you, the pair of you? So I'll see you then.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Victor is an unusually complex aversion. Although he's frequently treated by most as the archetypal Grumpy Old Man and is seen In-Universe as the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, it's usually only the viewers who are fully aware of the chaotic torment that he is put through that explains his exasperated behaviour.
    • Victor actually comes across as a fairly pleasant, cheerful and honourable guy during the rare and short-lived moments when he isn't being screwed over by the universe and everyone around him.
    • Also because the other characters usually only see Victor doing something utterly eccentric, while the viewers see the build-up, and know that there's a perfectly logical explanation as to why he should drive up to Patrick, introduce himself as if they've never met before, then give him a videotape of hard-core gay pornography.
    • It's also noted that the people most insistent of his Grumpy Old Man image in universe are usually vindictive or inconsiderate JerkAsses who ill-sightedly tried to manipulate or kick around Victor, before getting more than they bargained for. In other words, because he's not some frail old doormat and actually stands up to their bullying, he must be an unpleasant grump. The few truly pleasant people in the show actually tend to think rather kindly of Victor (even if still cause woe for him obliviously).
    • Both David Renwick and Richard Wilson have described Victor Meldrew as a "normal man in a world full of idiots" - seeing as the world Meldrew lives in is sufficiently crapsack it's genuinely hard not to sympathise with the poor man.
  • Vacation Episode: We're first teased with an Un-Installment between series 1 and 2, but there are several subsequent Vacation Episodes, including the 1993 Christmas Episode (and at 90 minutes, effectively a Made-for-TV Movie) "One Foot in the Algarve".
  • Very Punchable Man: Victor is often an example of such a fellow when given center spotlight, given his unpleasant (though occasionally justified) demeanor often earns him terrible retribution from the universe around him. A good few one shots act as this under Victor's more sympathetic moments however, perhaps most notably a repulsive snob who bullies him during his job as doorman, before getting a vicious scolding and his toupee thrown down the drain in retaliation.
    • Of course, given the kind of universe Victor lives in and the stereotype he's come to epitomise, his predicament is understandable.
  • The Voice: Margaret's mother is heard speaking a few times, but is never actually seen in the flesh.
  • Watershed: The show was always made to air after the watershed and while it contained minimal swearing (with a few instances of 'shit' here and there) and usually only implied violence, it did take advantage of its slot to explore much darker areas than most sitcoms. One thing that often gets cut from pre-watershed airings is the sight of Mildred's dangling feet after she hangs herself.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Victor is afflicted with a low-grade version of this. The writer, David Renwick, seemed to delight in putting him through bizarre situations at least once an episode (ranging from the next-door neighbor installing a door in his fence to facilitate a nice chat to having to deal with an old lady's suicide), so it's not surprising he was so disgruntled.
    • It is interesting to note how most of the more unusual residents around Victor seem to get along with him a lot more (or are at least oblivious to his occasional detesting of them). Granted they still occasionally manage to cause trouble for him completely by accident, but it is amusing how they are of the few that actually sympathise with him (in comparison to the supposedly more normal people around him that often gain a borderline obsessive hatred for his disgruntled behaviour).
  • Well-Intentioned Replacement:
    • Victor spills what he thinks is the ashes of Nick's mother, whereas it's actually herbal tea. He replaces it with burnt toilet paper, which later ends up being fed back to him when Margaret makes him some of the tea.
    • When the Meldrews drink an expensive bottle of wine bought by Patrick and Pippa for her father, they fill the bottle with some cheap plonk instead, reasoning that a bottle that expensive is going in a collection, never to be drunk anyway. They might have got away with it, except that the fizzy wine blows the cork out and thereby gives the game away. Although Patrick already thinks Victor is a bit weird, this is what ultimately sparks their ongoing feud.
  • Wham Line
    • In "The Man in the Long Black Coat", when Pippa is in hospital following a road accident and Margaret says that drunk drivers should be locked away for life, this Wham Line (which actually gets a big laugh):
    Pippa: No, I don't think you understand, Margaret. My breath test was positive.
    • The opening scene of the final episode, which reveals that our hero Victor is dead.
    Margaret: And thirdly, as my husband's now been dead for five months...
    • From One Foot in the Algarve, which reveals that Mrs. Warboys' pen pal and potential love interest Alfonso's wife faked her own death.
    Mrs. Warboys: Well look themů Look at them, Alfonso! They are both left shoes!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: We never find out where the Meldrews live. Some sites confidently claim various places (Mudeford in Dorset, Winchester, somewhere near Guildford) but they all seem to be confusing real-life filming locations with settings. References are made to "Cottleswood", implied to be a nearby town (there is a Cottles Wood in Wiltshire, but it's a patch of woodland; there is no Cottleswood in the UK). It's narrowed down a little by the fact that the Trenches talk about travelling home on the M4, and that Kettering is a reasonable daytrip, but perhaps the most pertinent clue is in "Who Will Buy" when we see that their postcode area is DR. So it looks like the real answer is that it's all in David Renwick's head. Which of course it is, but...
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Done twice with Framing Devices. In "Dreamland" the story is being told by Mrs Warboys, in "The Wisdom of the Witch" it's being told by Margaret.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: "The Futility of the Fly" revolves around a play being produced about the Meldrew's adventures. The director watching it criticizes the performance, calling it too broad, its plots too implausible, and its main character too cold, and doesn't believe the woman telling him about them.
  • World Gone Mad: And how.


Video Example(s):


Victor Dies

Victor becomes the victim of a hit-and-run accident, although we don't see a proper glimpse of the impact, only his hand and hat fall into view.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeadHandShot

Media sources: