After Henry
Written bySimon Brett
StarringPrunella Scales
Joan Sanderson
Janine Wood
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes38
ProducersPeter Frazer-Jones
Bill Shepherd
Running time30 minutes
Production companyThames Television
Original networkITV
Original release4 January 1988 (1988-01-04) –
24 August 1992 (1992-08-24)

After Henry is a British sitcom that aired on ITV from 1988 to 1992.[1] It was based on the radio series of the same name that was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 1985 and 1989. Like the radio series, the TV series was written by Simon Brett, and starred Prunella Scales and Joan Sanderson. It was made for the ITV network by Thames Television. The opening and closing music is "Three-Quarter Blues", by George Gershwin.

The BBC was reluctant to produce After Henry for television, so in 1988 after the third radio series Thames Television did so. The show was surprisingly popular, attracting over 14 million viewers. A second television series was shown during the same months as the fourth radio series with, in many cases, both radio and television episodes being broadcast on the same nights. The fourth television series was broadcast from July 1992, after the death of Joan Sanderson, who had died on 24 May.



Sarah France is the 42-year-old widow of a GP, Henry. She lives in an often volatile family situation with her elderly mother, Eleanor Prescott, and her daughter, eighteen-year-old Clare France, with both of whom she shares a house. After Henry's death, all three members of the family have to find a way to cope with each other as best they can.

Sarah often finds herself in the middle of things, usually figuratively, but always literally, given that she has her daughter living upstairs and her mother in the basement flat. (In the radio series, it was the mother who lived upstairs and the daughter downstairs.) Eleanor is ruthlessly cunning and takes every opportunity to get one over on Sarah. Anything told to Eleanor will spread by word of mouth throughout an extensive network of the elderly of the area, or the "geriatric mafia" or "geriatric KGB". Clare is trying to be independent of her mother, though often has to come running back in times of crisis.

The relationships between the three women change constantly through each episode. Sometimes mother and daughter ally against grandmother, sometimes mother and grandmother go against daughter, but usually grandmother and granddaughter gang up on the long-suffering Sarah, whose one haven is Bygone Books, the remarkably unsuccessful second-hand bookshop where she works for Russell, who dispenses in turn sympathy and wisdom. Most of the time, Russell sees the women's relationships second-hand through Sarah, although he isn't opposed to taking the occasional more active role when necessary. In turn, Sarah can see some of Russell's difficulties of living with a gay partner in a small 1980s Home Counties town while at the same time seeing Russell's relationship as the one perfect marriage she knows.


The adaptation for television allowed more to be seen of some of the more minor characters in the radio series, with appearances by some who had appeared only by reputation on the radio. These included Eleanor's best friend and rival Vera Poling, and Valerie Brown on the pension counter's sister Mary. In the television adaptation, Sarah also gained an on-off partner in Sam Greenland.

Many of the exterior locations for the television series were shot in the village of Thames Ditton in Surrey and Twickenham.


Note that on several occasions, episodes would be billed with different titles in the TVTimes to the on-screen episode title; these alternative episode titles originate from the working title on production scripts, before the final episode title had been decided.[citation needed]

Series Episode Title First broadcast
1 1 The Older Man 4 January 1988
2 Phone Calls 11 January 1988
3 The Teapot 18 January 1988
4 Security 25 January 1988
5 Romantic Complications 1 February 1988
6 The Birthday 8 February 1988
Special 1 A Quiet Christmas 26 December 1988
2 1 Intellectual Aspirations 10 January 1989
2 Open Secrets 17 January 1989
3 Memory Games 24 January 1989
4 The Cold 31 January 1989
5 Wedding Bells 7 February 1989
6 Lines Of Communication (a.k.a. Crossed Wires) 28 February 1989
7 Gossip 7 March 1989
8 Out On A Limb 14 March 1989
9 Upstagers 21 March 1989
10 Idle Speculation 28 March 1989
11 Efficiency 4 April 1989
12 Going Away (a.k.a. Situations Vacant) 11 April 1989
Special 2 A Week Of Sundays 25 December 1989
3 1 Mr Right 23 January 1990
2 Curiosity 30 January 1990
3 Home Comforts 6 February 1990
4 Relative Movement 13 February 1990
5 The Dinner Party (a.k.a. The Party) 20 February 1990
6 Mr Fixit 27 February 1990
7 Charity 6 March 1990
8 The Mysterious Affair At Bygone Books 13 March 1990
9 Party Politics 20 March 1990
10 Unforeseen Circumstances (a.k.a. Out of the Blue) 27 March 1990
11 Family Album 3 April 1990
12 Last Chances (a.k.a. Final Chance) 10 April 1990
4 1 Dependent Relatives 20 July 1992
2 Poor Relations 27 July 1992
3 A Fully Extended Family 3 August 1992
4 Yes And No 10 August 1992
5 The Married Man 17 August 1992
6 The Other Married Man 24 August 1992

DVD releases

All four series including a 6-disc set of the complete series have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2).

DVD Release date
The Complete Series 1 10 March 2008
The Complete Series 2 28 January 2009
The Complete Series 3 20 April 2009
The Complete Series 4 22 June 2009
The Complete Series 1 to 4 Box Set 2 November 2009

Stage version

Encouraged by the success of the transfer from radio to television, in 1991 Simon Brett began writing a stage play version, with intention of both Scales and Sanderson continuing to play their roles, and the option of different actresses to portray Clare. The production was planned as a three hander comedy-of-errors across the generation gaps, but the idea was dropped following the death of Sanderson in 1992, with Brett feeling that the part could not be replicated by anyone else.

Other versions

A Dutch version of the series, Zonder Ernst (translating as "without Ernst"), was made by NCRV.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Jeff Evans, The Penguin TV Companion (2001), p. 9.