Network on Air (studio)
650min approx (length)
12 February 2018 (released)
12 March 2018
This 70’s hilarious sitcom charters the adventures (though mostly misadventures) of bone-idle lazy layabout Romany Jones and his long-suffering wife Betty who finds it hard to adapt to life on a caravan site.
When ROMANY JONES was first broadcast in 1973, it’s anti-hero Bert Jones (James Beck) and his somewhat naïve wife Betty (Jo Rowbottom) quickly became one of TVs most watched ‘calamity couple’ - entertaining viewers with their shenanigans throughout Series 1 & 2. Following Beck’s sudden and premature death shortly after completion of Series 2, newly-weds Jeremy and Susan Crichton-Jones took over. Therefore the series’ title ROMANY JONES is, strictly speaking, only partially correct as it refers to lazy Bert Jones crafty ‘gypsy’ traits (hence Romany) whereas Series 3 & 4 no longer features the Jones.
The first two series introduce us to the aforementioned Bert Jones and his flame-haired wife Betty, a working class couple. Betty’s hopes of a nice little house got dashed when it emerged that prior to the wedding, Bert led her on to having more income than he actually has. In fact, he has no income whatsoever and relies on his regular pay-outs from the labour exchange. In addition he isn’t keen on his mother-in-law as he considers her to be a bit of a snob though the truth is that she considers her son-in-law a bit of a wastrel, a situation which culminated in him refusing to live in his stepmother’s house. Instead the couple re-located to a caravan site in the middle of muddy fields – much to Betty’s chagrin! Their neighbours are equally bone-idle lazy Wally Briggs (Arthur Mullard) and his constantly bickering wife Lily (Queenie Watts) – an ageing couple of working class stock who take great pride in their simple life in a tiny caravan trailer. Unlike Bert and Betty, who are madly in love despite their unfortunate circumstances (and with Bert usually as randy as a spring hare), Wally and Lily stand at the opposite end of the pole with regards to romance, in fact, Wally seems to be more fond of his useless hen ‘Cynthia’ then he is of his nosy battle-ax of a wife. Other regulars are youngish lorry driver Ken (Alan Ford) who usually manages to get stolen goods which can be flogged on the black market, and his saucy wife Eileen (Maureen Sweeney) who is only too aware of the effect she has on the opposite sex. Needless to say she uses this effect to her advantage whenever possible! In addition there is Mr. Gibson (Kevin Brennan), the landlord of the caravan site and a man with next to no sympathy for the dire circumstances his ‘tenants’ are in. This then is the premise for the first two series and each episode is incredibly funny with a lot of humour that these days may well be deemed ‘politically incorrect’ – and therefore all the funnier!
In the opening episode, Bert steals one of Wally’s chickens (though luckily not his beloved hen Cynthia) in order to impress his visiting mother-in-law with a slap-up meal (though poor Betty is clueless when it comes to gutting the bird)…
In the episode ‘Run Rabbit Run’ Bert has one of his many ideas for a ‘Get rich quick’ scheme and in his case his bright ideas are always doomed for one reason or another. Here he comes up with the fool-proof plan of breeding rabbits for sale yet makes the mistake of buying plenty of females but only one male bunny… which isn’t ‘up to the job’! As the series progresses, so does Betty’s disgruntlement over seemingly never getting her little dream house. Knowing full well that she can’t rely on Bert when it comes to making money she decides to take matters into her own hands by taking a job as a bar hostess - and secretly hides most of her earnings in an old clock given to her by her mum. Unfortunately Bert has the bright idea to sell the clock to Wally for a few bob without realising that Betty’s savings are inside… From makeshift showers which collapse to visiting goats in trailers – life on a caravan site seems anything but idyllic. Will fate take a turn for the better when Wally – afters years of unemployment – finally gets a job as a ‘lollipop man’ and Bert finds employment as a door-to-door salesman selling brushes? You bet that it’s only a question of time (very short time) before the two lads are out of a job again! In the final episode, Bert and Betty almost manage to emigrate to sunny Australia – courtesy of a competition – but Bert’s lies cost the couple the winning price. In the end, Betty’s mum offers to help them out financially so they can finally move into a proper home.
In Series 3 & 4 it’s newlyweds Jeremy Crichton-Jones (Jonathan Cecil) and dizzy blonde Susan (Gay Soper) who move into the Jones’ former trailer. Here the entire dynamic shifts as Jeremy and Susan come from middle-class backgrounds, however, because it’s Susan who doesn’t really get along with her mother-in-law and with Jeremy not yet earning enough to buy a home of their own, life in a trailer will have to do for the time being. The roles are generally quite reversed, for example, here it’s Susan who is always in the mood for a bit of hanky-panky whereas bumbling idiot Jeremy (Lily refers to him as ‘Twit-face’) usually is too busy to stick his nose into academic books to further his career prospects in the City – hoping that one day soon his position from humble ‘clerk’ will advance considerably. That said, every opportunity thrown at him to advance his chances usually end in disaster like the evening when Jeremy’s posh boss and his spoilt wife agree to visit the couple for dinner in their caravan. Eager to impress her husband’s employers but knowing full well that her cooking skills are somewhat limited, Susan asks experienced neighbour Lily for help who promptly offers her services and agrees to cook a gourmet meal while Jeremy and Susan entertain their guests – pretending they have an actual chef slaving away in the neighbouring caravan. Initially the gourmet meal seems to come along fine when halfway through, Lily realises that she’s short on shrimps. Quick-witted as she is the starter is saved when a few fish fingers receive a special treatment with her curling tongs… and did I mention the tin of dog food accidentally ending up in the main course? Suffice to say the meal marks the end of Jeremy’s prospects to climb up the corporate ladder!
On another occasion Susan and hubby are invited to a friend’s wedding but she reckons that nothing in her wardrobe is suitable for the occasion. Fear not, Lily is at hand… yet again, this time with the help from some stolen fabric she got from neighbour Eileen while Wally agrees to fix the old sewing machine. Before you know it, Susan is the proud wearer of an elegant new dress. Pity it falls apart at the seems before Su and Jeremy even make it to the wedding reception…
For those who like their humour coarse, ROMANY JONES offers endless amusement with each 25 min episode funnier than the other and characters you won’t forget in a hurry!