All Gas and Gaiters
Created byPauline Devaney
Edwin Apps
StarringRobertson Hare
William Mervyn
Derek Nimmo
John Barron
Ernest Clark
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series5
No. of episodes33 + 1 short
Running time30 minutes
Original networkBBC1
Original release17 May 1966 (1966-05-17) –
17 June 1971 (1971-06-17)

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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".[4][citation needed]


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.[5] 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.

Ser. Title Broadcast Description Notes
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

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.[6] This telerecording no longer exists in the BBC's film and videotape archives.[7]

Christmas Special: 1968

Title Airdate Description Notes
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.[8] 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.[9] 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.

Radio episodes

Series One: 1971

  1. "The Bishop Rides Again" (5 January 1971)
  2. "The Bishop Writes a Sermon" (12 January 1971)
  3. "The Bishop Meets a Bird" (19 January 1971)
  4. "The Bishop Turns to Crime" (26 January 1971)
  5. "The Bishop Sees a Ghost" (2 February 1971)
  6. "Only Three Can Play" (9 February 1971)
  7. "The Dean Goes Primitive" (16 February 1971)
  8. "The Bishop Gets a Letter" (23 February 1971)
  9. "The Bishop Gives a Party" (2 March 1971)
  10. "The Bishop Goes to Town" (9 March 1971)
  11. "Give a Dog a Bad Name" (16 March 1971)
  12. "The Bishop Gives a Shove" (23 March 1971)
  13. "The Bishop Pays a Visit" (30 March 1971)

Series Two: 1972

  1. "The Bishop Learns the Facts" (24 July 1972)
  2. "The Bishop Takes a Holiday" (31 July 1972)
  3. "The Bishop Buys a Car" (7 August 1972)
  4. "The Bishop Gets the Sack" (14 August 1972)
  5. "The Bishop Has a Flutter" (21 August 1972)
  6. "The Affair at Cookham Lock" (28 August 1972)
  7. "The Bishop Loves His Neighbour" (4 September 1972)
  8. "The Bishop Beats the System" (11 September 1972)
  9. "The Bishop Entertains" (18 September 1972)
  10. "The Bishop Gains a Reputation" (25 September 1972)
  11. "The Bishop Buys a Mug" (2 October 1972)
  12. "The Bishop Loses his Chaplain" (9 October 1972)
  13. "When In Rome" (16 October 1972)
  14. "The Bishop Is Hospitable" (23 October 1972)
  15. "The Bishop Gives a Present" (30 October 1972)
  16. "The Bishop Takes Up Business" (6 November 1972)
  17. "The Bishop Keeps his Diary" (13 November 1972)
  18. "The Bishop Warms Up" (20 November 1972)
  19. "The Bishop Shows his Loyalty" (27 November 1972)
  20. "The Bishop Has a Rest" (4 December 1972)

Influence and legacy

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.[10]


  1. ^ "World Wide Words: Gas and gaiters". World Wide Words. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  2. ^ "The real places that inspired Eliot".
  3. ^ Sangster and Condon TV Heaven.
  4. ^ "All Gas and Gaiters, the Lost episodes". Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  5. ^ "All Gas and Gaiters".
  6. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index".
  7. ^ "TVBrain | Kaleidoscope | Lost shows | TV Archive | TV History". Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index".
  9. ^ "All Gas And Gaiters – Nostalgia Central". 20 June 2014.
  10. ^ "All Mouth and Trousers, Drama - BBC Radio 4". Retrieved 3 April 2017.