Item Description

Nearest and Dearest was a British television sitcom that ran from 1968 to 1973. A total of 46 episodes were made, 18 in monochrome (black & white) and 28 in colour. The series, produced by Granada Television for the ITV network, was set in Colne , Lancashire , in the North West of England.

The premise was set up in the first episode; Joshua Pledge, in his will, bequeaths a large sum of money to his middle-aged son and daughter but only if they stay together for five years at his small pickle business, Pledge's Purer Pickles. The children are; the hard-working Nellie and her ne'er do well brother, Eli. Nellie was played by veteran comedienne Hylda Baker . Baker was born and bred in Bolton , a town eleven miles north of Manchester , and Eli was played by Jimmy Jewel , a Yorkshire-born contemporary of Baker's, who had made his name as one half of the music hall (vaudeville) act, Jewel and Warriss.

Also featured was the Pledges' cousin, Lily Tattersall, who was married to the constantly mute octaganerian, Walter. Walter was unable to control his bladder, which led to the one of the programme's notable catchphrases, "'Has he been?". Lily was played by Madge Hindle , Walter by Edward Malin . Also prominent was the toothless and cloth-capped Stan Hardman, the Pledge's aged foreman, played by Joe Gladwin .

Much of the comedy was derived from Nellie's constant malapropisms. When asked by Lily if she knew the facts of life, Nellie replied with immense dignity, "Of course I do! I'm well over the age of content!" In another episode, Nellie has a suitor, Vernon Smallpiece, whom she calls 'Vermin Bigpiece'. When Eli insists on playing the high-powered executive once he is in charge of the factory, Nellie asks him who he thinks he is "...sat sitting there like a big business typhoon!" In each episode, Nellie and Eli would hurl insults at each other, often to spectacular effect, as they fought over the family business or domestic matters, with Nellie's constant nagging and Eli's constant drinking and womanising. It was widely alleged that the insults continued offscreen as well, as Baker and Jewel apparently detested each other in real life.

The third series, transmitted in October and November 1969, was the first to be filmed in colour, however as ITV started broadcasting in colour from mid-November 1969, most viewers would have only seen these in black-and-white on their first run. An industrial dispute at ITV in 1970, known as the Colour Strike , led to seven of the eight programmes from the fifth series being made in black-and-white.


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