July 12, 1979 on UK TV: Hywel Bennett is ‘Shelley’

Shelley is a British sitcom made by Thames Television and originally broadcast on ITV from 12 July 1979 to 12 January 1984 and from 11 October 1988 to 1 September 1992. Starred Hywel Bennett as James Shelley, originally 28 years old and a sardonic, perpetually unemployed anti-establishment ‘freelance layabout’ with a doctoral degree. In the original run, Belinda Sinclair played Shelley’s girlfriend Fran, and Josephine Tewson appeared regularly as his landlady, Edna Hawkins. The series was created by Peter Tilbury who also wrote the first three series. The scripts for subsequent episodes were by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin (both of whom would later go on to write the hugely successful Drop the Dead Donkey for Channel 4), Colin Bostock-Smith, David Frith, Bernard McKenna and Barry Pilton. All 71 episodes were produced and directed by Anthony Parker.

Series seven was titled on screen The Return of Shelley, and was broadcast in 1988. This time round, Shelley is (still) separated from Fran, and lives on his own, doing his best to avoid obtaining gainful employment. The series begins with Shelley returning to the UK from Kuwait after teaching English for several years, only to find that his calls to his old friends are now screened by answer phones and that yuppieness has taken root in his old neighbourhood. The final three series returned to the on-screen title of Shelley.

For the final two series, we see Shelley sharing a house with Ted Bishop (David Ryall). Ted’s house is the only one left in his street, the other residences having been demolished to make way for a leisure centre. Shelley moves in as lodger to help Ted with his fight against the developers who want to demolish the house Ted has lived in his whole life. [Wikipedia]

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