never the twain
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Classic British comedy about two rival antique dealers.
Starring Donald Sinden and Windsor Davies as two curmudgeonly antique dealers, Never the Twain rapidly became one of Thames Television's most popular comedies. Created by sitcom legend Johnnie Mortimer – who, with Brian Cooke, created Father Dear Father, Man About the House and George and Mildred – this classic comedy was a constant favourite with the viewers throughout its whopping ten year run. Showcasing guest appearances by Honor Blackman, Gabrielle Drake, Barbara Murray, Prunella Scales and Christopher Ellison, this set contains all eleven series and the 1989 Christmas special.
Simon Peel and Oliver Smallbridge are not the easiest of neighbours. Simon is a blue blooded Oxbridge snob while Oliver is a former barrowboy with a chip on his shoulder – the only things they have in common is their ownership of rival antique shops, and a willingness to stoop to endless lengths to do the other down.
Although like many sitcoms of its day Never the Twain feels a little dated, it’s the rivalry and relationship between Peel and Smallbridge that is the real crux of the series.
Reminiscent of the ‘class struggle’ between Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson in Dad’s Army, in Never the Twain the disdain that Simon has for Oliver and the chip on his shoulder that Oliver has towards Oliver really drives the drama and comedy within the series. There are also some pertinent societal observations that Never the Twain present to us that are still relevant even today.
While a little dated at the heart of Never the Twain is the lack of love lost between Peel and Smallbridge which gives us all the laughs we could possibly want.