Roy Clarke reveals secrets behind Open All Hours remake

Doncaster writer Roy Clarke. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Doncaster writer Roy Clarke. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Doncaster writer Roy Clarke has revealed how a dream to return classic sitcom Open All Hours to the screen became reality.

The much-loved 70s sitcom, which starred comedy legend Ronnie Barker as miserly shopkeeper Arkwright and David Jason as his long-suffering errand boy nephew Granville, will return for a one-off 30 minute episode this Christmas.

The show, entitled Still Open All Hours, is set to be filmed in Balby in November - at the hairdressing salon which was used for exterior scenes for 26 episodes of the show which ran between 1973 and 1985 across four series.

And Mr Clarke, who penned the original show as well as the long-running Last Of The Summer Wine, has revealed how the much-talked about project, which will see Sir David reprising his role as Granville, came about.

He said: “The idea came from the BBC’s comedy department.

“They put David and I together to find something new for David and the head of comedy said why not do a one-off version of Open All Hours?

“We all instantly thought ‘what a fantastic idea’ and within a few weeks, here we are.”

News of the show was revealed to the world earlier this week and the programme is expected to one of the flagship broadcasts of the BBC’s Christmas schedule.

Added Mr Clarke, now 83: “It has been a very fast moving project. It took me about two weeks to put the script together, going through a few draughts to get to where we are.”

The scriptwriter, who lives in Sykehouse, declined to reveal too many secrets about the new show but said that fans of the original Open All Hours would not be disappointed.

“The whole thing very much has the look and feel of the original show. And working with David again has been an absolute joy.
“We spent afternoons sitting around giggling about the show in the 70s, remembering some of the things that had happened and the storylines.”

The new edition will see Granville running the corner shop - set in the Beautique hair salon in Lister Avenue, Balby, with his son, following the death of Arkwright, and of course, the late great Ronnie Barker, who died in 2005.

Actressess Lynda Baron, who starred as busty Nurse Gladys Emmanuel will also return, along with Maggie Ollerenshaw, who starred as dithering customer Mavis.

“I wanted to keep as close to the original as I could,” added Mr Clarke, “and to be honest, that wasn’t difficult. David said to me that when he read the script for the first time it felt like that it had never been away.”

“It felt just like writing another episode of the old series and while Arkwright is not there anymore, his presence still looms very large across the whole show. Fans of Arkwright will not be disappointed.”

The writer, who penned Last Of The Summer Wine for more than forty years, says he is now “pretty much retired” but added that he would love to see Open All Hours make a full return to television screens.

“It would be wonderful it was brought back again, but we will see what happens with the Christmas special first and take it from there.”

“It all came a bit out of the blue, but I am looking forward to seeing the show being made again, and of course, I will be going along to the filming when it takes place.

“I think it is fantastic that people are talking about Open All Hours again and I can’t wait to see the finished version.”