|All Gas and Gaiters|
|Created by||Pauline Devaney|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||33 + 1 short|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original release||17 May 1966 –|
17 June 1971
All Gas and Gaiters is a British television ecclesiastical sitcom which aired on BBC1 from 1966 to 1971. It was written by Pauline Devaney and Edwin Apps, a husband-and-wife team who used the pseudonym of John Wraith when writing the pilot. All Gas and Gaiters was also broadcast on BBC Radio from 1971 to 1972.
All Gas and Gaiters, predominantly farcical in nature, was set in the close of the fictional St Oggs Cathedral and concerned intrigues and rivalries among the clergy in the Church of England. The bishop was easygoing; his friend the archdeacon was elderly, tippling, and still appreciative of attractive women; and the bishop's chaplain was naïve and accident-prone. Their wish to live a quiet bachelor life was continually threatened by the overbearing dean, who tried to bring by-the-book rule to the cathedral.
The title is a pun, deriving from a comic expression ("all is gas and gaiters", meaning "all is well") uttered by an eccentric old gentleman clad in small-clothes and grey worsted stockings in Charles Dickens' 1839 novel Nicholas Nickleby, and later used by such writers as P. G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and Powell and Pressburger (spoken in the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp). The phrase "all gas and gaiters" has had different meanings. Sometimes it has been used to mean "a satisfactory state of affairs" and sometimes it has had the meaning of "nonsense". The relevance of this phrase to Anglican clergy is that gaiters (worn over shoes) were part of the traditional dress of bishops and archdeacons.
The series initially aroused some controversy because of its portrayal of senior clergy as bungling incompetents, although some clergy enjoyed it. In the opening credits, St Albans Cathedral was shown as the fictional St Oggs (but with the Crooked Spire of Church of St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield added to the central tower). The background to the opening credits was the headmaster's garden of St. Albans School. The name "St. Oggs" may have been taken from a fictional village in George Eliot's novel The Mill on the Floss.
It proved to be the first of a series of comedies starring Derek Nimmo in similar bumbling clerical roles—(Oh, Brother!, Oh, Father! and Hell's Bells)—but is regarded as the best, partly because of a strong supporting cast (particularly the experienced farceur Robertson Hare as the archdeacon) and partly because it included some elements of gentle satire.
All 11 surviving episodes were released on DVD by DD Home Entertainment in 2004, originally accompanied by a detailed behind-the-scenes booklet, written by Andy Priestner in consultation with the show's writers, Edwin Apps and Pauline Devaney, but later released without. Cinema Club have since bought the DVD rights.
Eight scripts of the lost episodes were published in 2015: All Gas and Gaiters, the Lost Episodes: Tome 1 (ISBN 978-1-910317-02-0): "Only Three Can Play", "The Dean Goes Primitive", "The Bishop Goes To Town", "The Bishop Learns the Facts", "The Bishop is Hospitable", "The Bishop Takes a Holiday", "The Affair at Cookham Lock" and "The Bishop Gives a Shove".
The pilot and first two series were videotaped in black-and-white. The third series was videotaped in colour, but was originally broadcast in monochrome. The fourth and fifth series were made and shown in colour. Only 11 episodes still exist in the archive, the others were wiped as was the standard policy of the BBC in this era. Two of the colour episodes from series 5 are preserved as black and white 16mm film recordings only (three earlier episodes were always black and white). Only six colour episodes are preserved in their original colour videotape format.
|Pilot||The Bishop Rides Again||17 May 1966||Episode of Comedy Playhouse|
Previously lost; found in 2001
Guest star; James Beck
|1||The Bishop Gets the Sack||31 January 1967||Survives.|
Guest star; John Le Mesurier
|1||The Bishop Meets a Bird||7 February 1967||lost|
|1||The Bishop Writes a Sermon||14 February 1967||lost|
|1||The Bishop Sees a Ghost||21 February 1967||Survives.|
Guest stars; Joe Gladwin, Ruth Kettlewell, and Patrick Newell
|1||The Bishop Turns to Crime||28 February 1967||lost|
|1||Only Three Can Play||7 March 1967||lost|
|2||The Dean Goes Primitive||24 November 1967||lost|
|2||The Bishop Gives a Party||1 December 1967||lost|
|2||The Bishop Gets a Letter||8 December 1967||lost|
|2||The Bishop Goes to Town||15 December 1967||lost|
|2||Give a Dog a Bad Name||22 December 1967||lost|
|2||The Bishop Gives a Shove||29 December 1967||lost|
|3||The Bishop learns the Facts||8 January 1969||lost|
|3||The Bishop has a Flutter||15 January 1969||lost|
|3||The Bishop is Hospitable||22 January 1969||lost|
|3||The Bishop Pays a Visit||29 January 1969||lost|
|3||The Bishop takes a Holiday||5 February 1969||lost|
|3||The Affair at Cookham Lock||12 February 1969||lost|
|3||The Bishop Keeps his Diary||19 February 1969||lost|
|4||The Bishop Buys a Car||15 April 1970||lost|
|4||The Bishop Gains a Reputation||22 April 1970||lost|
|4||The Bishop Loves His Neighbour||29 April 1970||Survives.|
|4||The Bishop Beats the System||6 May 1970||Survives.|
Guest stars; Roy Kinnear, John Quayle, and Michael Taylor[disambiguation needed]
|4||The Bishop Buys a Mug||13 May 1970||lost|
|4||When in Rome||20 May 1970||lost|
|4||The Bishop Takes Up Business||27 May 1970||lost|
|5||The Bishop Warms Up||13 May 1971||b/w only survives; colour copy lost|
Guest stars; Frank Williams, Norman Chappell and Dudley Jones
|5||The Bishop Entertains||20 May 1971||b/w only survives; colour copy lost|
|5||The Bishop Gives a Present||27 May 1971||Survives.|
|5||The Bishop Shows his Loyalty||3 June 1971||Survives.|
|5||The Bishop Has a Rest||10 June 1971||Survives.|
|5||The Bishop Loses his Chaplain||17 June 1971||Survives.|
Christmas Night with the Stars was a programme screened annually on Christmas night, when the top stars of the BBC appeared in short versions of their programmes, typically five to ten minutes long. All Gas and Gaiters appeared once alongside its sitcom spin-off Oh, Brother! in 1968. This telerecording no longer exists in the BBC's film and videotape archives.
|25 December 1968||as part of Christmas Night with the Stars|
A radio version of All Gas and Gaiters was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 5 January 1971 to 4 December 1972 for 33 episodes. The radio show used the same cast as the television series with the exception of Derek Nimmo, who left after the first series and was succeeded by Jonathan Cecil. Although seven radio episodes were thought to have been wiped, these were later found and all are available through radio enthusiasts. Some episodes were rebroadcast on BBC 7 in October and November 2006, and again a year later and in early 2009. They continued to be broadcast on the station, now renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra, in August 2011 and again in early 2017 and 2022.
In April 2016 the radio drama based on the story behind the making of the series, All Mouth and Trousers by Mark Burgess, was aired by BBC Radio 4. The production featured John Sessions as Frank Muir, Nicholas Boulton as Stuart Allen, Gareth Williams as William Mervyn, Trevor Littledale as Robertson Hare, Zeb Soanes as Derek Nimmo and David Collings as John Barron.