As Time Goes By

Geoffrey Palmer and Dame Judi Dench, star in this long running romantic sitcom of both TV and Radio, and, in the process, make the art of comedy look easy. Lionel, played by Palmer, is an ex-army officer and coffee planter who returns to England to write his memoirs,a nd to aid him in his efforts, takes on a temporary secretary, Judith Pargetter, sent from the local agency. Whilst on a dinner date with Judith, Lionel meets her mother, Jean, who who knew very well much earlier in his life during the Korean War, and would have married had a vital letter not gone astray leading to each thinking the other had given up on the relationship. With Judith rather keen on Lionel, and a 38 year lapse on lost love, the situation was provided for the first series of the show.

As the show developed, it changed tack to steer Lionel and Jean back together, first to co-habitation and then toward marriage, but as Lionel's literary career progressed, spanners started to appear in the works. Judith and Lionel's agent, Alistair, began a relationship, something that Lionel was not over impressed with, his father begun the chase for his dream woman, and Lionel wrote his and Jean's story and sold it to an American TV company who intended to make a glossy mini-series out of it.

Written by Bob Larbey, the script was always finely-tuned (with past experience with A Fine Romance), but not to everyones tastes, appearing to be more of the comfortable middle-of-the-road sitcom, however it was far more that a remould of the likes of Terry and June and often contained a greater degree of sophisticated comedy. The series has endured, and despite an end to the main run in 2002, it returned last Christmas (2005) for a couple of reunion episodes, and at its height, was adapted for radio by Larbey, providing an extra insight into the original relationship of Lionel and Jean.

:: Reviews

DVDs are sometimes like buses and two come along at once, and As Times Goes By is no exception this time. Although this is more because of my laxity in updating than by marketing, it does mean that I have had an ideal opportunity to update this page all in one go.

The first of the releases that was on the pile of things 'to watch' was the Reunion specials, released by AcornMedia UK. They actually came out on the 9th January 2006, after being screened in the UK over the Christmas period. In these special episodes the Hardcastles have a full house when daughter Sandy and her husband Harry return from Canada and move in. Jean, rather prematurely, arranges for cots to be delivered which causes distress to ‘preciously grumpy’ Lionel’s routine.

When things begin to settle down another surprise arrives in the form of a young man from Africa, who has travelled to see his father, Lionel! The Reunion Specials were shot at Teddington Studios and on location in Holland Park, London. With a RRP of £16.99 on DVD (but also available on VHS), this release completes the ATGB saga. DVD extras include an exclusive interview with Geoffrey Palmer, cast filmographies, a picture gallery and production notes, and it has a total running time of just over 90 minutes.

The second disc to come was the entire series 6. 2|entertain are now committed to releasing the remaining series of As Time Goes By after Universal appear to have lost the rights and this means that instead of the now familiar digipacks series 5 - 9 inclusive will be avaialable in standard plastic DVD cases. I must admit that it doens't bother me one way or another really, but I am always disappointed when the packaging changes halfway through a release as do prefer to have stes that look like they are meant to be together on the shelf.

The actual release is bare-bones, without any extra features (although there are subtitles that appear for me immediately when I play and episode, so I have to fumble around to remove them!) but does have all 7 episodes on one disc, with the option of playing them all back to back, or choosing and episode from a menu. Personally I like this approach as it keeps the price down (the RRP of this release is around £12) and in this particular case brings the cost of an entire series down to about half that which I was used to paying for the equivalent video releases a few years back.

2|entertain are really move with speed into the classic comedy market, and at the rate they are issuing material, it shouldn't be too long before the whole series is out, and then perhaps they may revisit the earlier ones so that I can get the consistent packaging I like!

TV | Radio

:: TV Series

The following titles of shows are either unofficial titles (denoted by quotes) or those used on the DVD releases.

:: Series 1

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday at 8.35pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
You Must Remember This12.1.92
Getting To Know You - Again19.1.92
The Copper Kettle26.1.92
Surprise, Surprise2.2.92
The Picnic16.2.92

:: Series 2

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday at 7pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
White Hunter10.1.93
A Weekend Away17.1.93
Visiting Rocky24.1.93
The Cruise14.2.93
The Book Signing21.2.93

:: Series 3

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday at 7pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
We'll Always Have Paris2.1.94
Rocky's Wedding Day9.1.94
Living Together, But Where?16.1.94
Covering Up23.1.94
Moving In30.1.94
Branching Out6.2.94
The Mini Series13.2.94
A Trip to Los Angeles20.2.94
Dealing with Sally27.2.94
Problems, Problems6.3.94

:: Series 4

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday at 7pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
A House Full of Women5.3.95
Getting Rid of Gwen19.3.95
The Affair26.3.95
Welcome News2.4.95
The Anniversary Party9.4.95
Wedding Preparations16.4.95
Wedding Day Nerves23.4.95
Judith's New Romance30.4.95

:: Series 5

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday at 8.20pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
The Country Set7.1.96
Lionel's Ex-Wife14.1.96
Lionel's New Hobby21.1.96
Avoiding The Country Set28.1.96
Broadcast Plans4.2.96
At Death's Door11.2.96
Showered With Gifts18.2.96

:: Series 6

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday evening around 8.00pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
The Stalker18.5.97
The Psychotherapist25.5.97
The Dinner Party1.6.97
What's Wrong With Mrs Bale?8.6.97
Alistair's Engagement15.6.97
The House Next Door22.6.97
A Surprise For Jean29.6.97

:: Series 7

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday at 8.50pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
An Old Flame26.4.98
The New Neighbours3.5.98
The Bypass10.5.98
Too Old ... or Too Nosy17.5.98
The Old Folks' Party24.5.98
The Proposal31.5.98

:: Series 8

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday evening around 9.30pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
"A Deeply Personal Problem"30.7.00
"Animal Magnetism"6.8.00
"The Bathroom"13.8.00
"Surprising News"20.8.00
"Future Imperfect"27.8.00
"Going Online"1.9.00

:: Series 8

This series was originally broadcast on BBC1 of a Sunday evening around 8.30pm.

TitleTx. DateNotes
"Time To Settle Down"7.7.02
"Wedding Plans"14.7.02
"The Wedding"21.7.02
"What Now?"4.8.02

:: Specials

There have now been 3 specials that have followed the main run of the series. The first of these, broadcast on BBC1 on 11.8.02 at 8.00pm, was a 60 minute compilation of bits from the series, however, the two broadcast over the Christmas period of 2005 were two final episodes written by Bob Larbey.

TitleTx. DateNotes
You Must Remember This11.8.02
The Reunion, Pt126.12.05Broadcast on BBC1 at 6.00pm
The Reunion, Pt230.12.05Broadcast on BBC1 at 8.30pm

:: Radio Series

Note that the dates for the BBC7 broadcasts are for the first airing only and not subsequent and regular repeats, and that the order of the shows did not correspond to the original broadcast order. It appears that they have ALL been re-broadcast, but details for some shows was minimal and as such dates have not been allocated yet.

:: Series 1

This series was originally broadcast on Radio 3 of a Tuesday evening at 8.30pm, transferring to a Wednesday evening at 9.30pm halfway through the run.

Tx. dateBBC7 Rpt. dateDetails
18.3.9719.12.02True love is failing to rekindle
25.3.9726.12.02Jean and Lionel visit old haunts in the country but fail to recapture the past.
1.4.972.1.03Lionel gives a lecture in Norwich and stays with an old girlfriend and Jean turns up unexpectedly.
9.4.979.1.03Jean's daughter Judith begins to fall for Lionel and Lionel's publisher Alistair begins to fall for Jean.
16.4.9716.1.03Complications ensue when Judith's plan to leave Lionel and Jean on their own goes wrong.
23.4.9723.1.03Jean's sister-in-law invites Lionel and Jean for the weekend but the couple are less than frank about their romantic past.
30.4.9730.1.03Lionel invites Jean to share a cruise with him, but is puzzled when she resists the invitation.

:: Series 2

This series was broadcast on Sundays at 4.00pm on Radio2.

Tx. dateRpt. dateDetails
18.1.98Publication day arrives and Lionel is plunged into the hectic world of book promotion.
25.1.98Lionel and Jean take a romantic break in Paris.
1.2.98Lionel and Jean decide to live together - but confusion arises over which property they are going to share.
8.2.9820.3.03Jean's sister-in-law, Penny, and her husband, Stephen, come for a visit, and Lionel has to continue the deception that he is a psychiatrist.
15.2.98Jean and Lionel find that sharing a house is not all domestic bliss.
22.2.9813.3.03Jean expands her business and Lionel hears some unexpected news from America.

:: Series 3

This series was broadcast on Sundays at 4.00pm on Radio2, featuring Moira Brooker, Philip Bretherton, Jenny Funnell, Jane Booker, Zoe Hilson, Paul Chapman, Jennifer Piercey, and Simon Greenall.

Tx. dateRpt. dateDetails
14.2.99Lionel gets a surprise from Alistair and Jean interviews a manager for the new branch of her agency.
21.2.9927.3.03Jean finds that jet lag does not improve relations with her new manager.
28.2.993.4.03Jean replaces Lionel's secretary, but Mrs Flack is more than they bargain for.
7.3.9910.4.03Lionel's routine is disturbed when Sandy moves in.
14.3.9917.4.03Jean and Lionel devise a plan to get rid of Mrs Flack.
21.3.9924.4.03Jean's sister-in-law arrives with the news that she has left her husband.
28.3.991.5.03Lionel finally decides to propose to Jean