“That’s TV”, the free-to-watch channel dedicated to retro and nostalgia, is bringing back several classic British series – including the popular (and somewhat controversial) sitcom Till Death Us Do Part and its successor, In Sickness and In Health.
That’s TV, which is available on Freeview, Freesat and Sky, will air over 80 episodes of the two programmes, starting on September 4.
The list of episodes includes four “lost” episodes which have not been broadcast since going missing from the archives in the late 1960s.
In addition, the channel has acquired the rights to several other classic TV shows that will be airing this autumn, including The Goodies, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, The Kumars at No. 42 and more (see the full list below).
These will be added to other classic programmes that That’s TV brought back this past year – including The Benny Hill Show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Beadle’s About.
That’s TV in its current form started its life as That’s TV Gold. Early on, the channel focused on music, but is now billed as “The Home of Classic TV”.
Launched in 2014, That’s TV expanded its broadcast coverage over the last year, and is now available UK-wide on Freeview channel 65, Sky channel 183 and Freesat channel 178.
Local versions of That’s TV are also available in 20 locations on Freeview channel 7 or 8, delivering local news and information alongside classic TV programming.
Till Death Us Do Part’s Return
Till Death Us Do Part, created by Johnny Speight, and its successor In Sickness and In Health, ran for four decades on BBC One with 13 series made between 1966 and 1992.
Described by Prince Philip as The Queen’s “favourite show”, Till Death Us Do Part lampoons the views of its central character, Alf Garnett, a bombastic big-mouthed buffoon with a reactionary opinion on everything.
Alf Garnett was played by the late Warren Mitchell, who described the character as “an ignorant, loud-mouthed, stupid pig of a man. A know-all. Nasty, repulsive.” In 1967 Mitchell was awarded the BAFTA for Best Actor in the role.
Till Death Us Do Part depicts the life of Alf Garnett and his incessant squabbling with his wife, Elsie (played by Dandy Nichols), son-in-law Mike (played by Tony Booth) and daughter Rita (played by Una Stubbs, later famed for such shows as Worzel Gummidge and Sherlock).
The sitcom courted controversy from the outset, being one of the first BBC shows in the 1960s to feature the swear word “bloody” (broadcast 1,436 times during the first seven seasons).
The Conservative Party complained that its leader, Edward Heath, was described as a “grammar school twit” in the first episode. TV Clean-Up Campaigner Mary Whitehouse sent a telegram to Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister at the time, describing the series as “dirty, blasphemous and full of bad language.”
Till Death Us Do Part has been cited by some as the most influential sitcom in TV history. It reached 20 million viewers, and its format was sold worldwide. The former director general of the BBC, Sir Hugh Greene, listed the show among the series that “raised the BBC’s reputation to new heights.”
Johnny Speight’s widow, Connie Speight, said of the show’s return: “It is wonderful news that That’s TV will be showing these ‘lost’ episodes of Till Death Us Do Part from the 1960s.
“Johnny wrote Till Death Us Do Part as a ‘kitchen-sink’ comedy, openly ridiculing the politics and bigotry of the era. Alf Garnett will forever be enshrined in the British collective psyche, embodying everything wrong with the nation in one man.”
Till Death Us Do Part will start airing on That’s TV on September 4 at 9pm, and will air all 13 seasons, including the four missing episodes.
Although most of the early episodes of Till Death Us Do Part were wiped in the 1960s (as was the custom back then, with programmes being recorded over other programmes), a handful of these ‘lost’ recordings have been discovered by budding technicians and film collectors over the past 20 years.
The lost episodes that will air on That’s TV are:
- Intolerance (S1, Ep4)
- In Sickness and In Health (S2, Ep8)
- State Visit (S2, Ep9)
- The Phone (S3, Ep1)
More Classic British Shows Returning
Several other classic shows and documentary films that will air on That’s TV this autumn include:
The Goodies: Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor star in the sitcom about an agency offering to do good. That’s TV has acquired the rights to show all seasons made by both BBC and ITV from 1970 to 1982.
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: Leonard Rossiter stars in the black comedy masterpiece about a sales executive whose mid-life crisis results in him faking his own death. First broadcast in 1976.
Whatever Happened To the Likely Lads?: Set in Newcastle upon Tyne, the show follows the friendship of two working-class young men. First broadcast in 1973.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie: Sketch series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. First broadcast in 1987.
The Kumars at No. 42: Sanjeev Bhaskar (also known from Unforgotten) stars as a chat-show host who works from home. First broadcast in 2001, winner of an International Emmy in 2002 and 2003 and a Peabody Award in 2004.
Mafia Women with Trevor McDonald: Sir Trevor meets the women ‘married to the Mob’ and uncovers the stark realities of life in a crime family.
Serial Killer with Piers Morgan: Through intense prison interviews, Piers Morgan revisits the crimes of convicted serial killers.
Dinner Date: An individual gets a chance to go on three blind dates and fill up on meals prepared by the dates themselves. First shown in 2010.