2 Point 4 children

2point4 children
File:2point4ChildrenTitlecard.jpg
Format Sitcom
Created by Andrew Marshall
Written by Andrew Marshall
Starring Belinda Lang
Gary Olsen
Julia Hills
Clare Woodgate (series 1 & 2)
Clare Buckfield (series 3–8)
John Pickard
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 56 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 min per average episode
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One
Original run 3 September 1991 (1991-09-03) – 30 December 1999 (1999-12-30)

2point4 children is a 1990s British sitcom that was created and written by Andrew Marshall. It follows the lives of the Porter family; an average family that is persistently faced with surreal situations and sheer bad luck.

The show was originally broadcast on BBC One from 1991 to 1999, and ran for eight series, ending in a special Millennium edition that would be the last due to the death of Gary Olsen, who died from cancer in 2000. The show is now repeated regularly in the UK on Gold, and in Australia on UKTV.

The title of the show refers to the once average size of a UK family. There are two children in the Porter family, however Andrew Marshall has indicated that the father, Ben, could be considered almost another child, making up the "point four".

The show regularly picked up large audiences of up to 14 million in the early 1990s, with an average of between 6 - 9 million, the final episode was viewed by 9.03 million people.[1]

In 1997 a remake of the show debuted in the Netherlands: Kees & Co starring Simone Kleinsma.[2]

Cast

Main characters

Supporting characters

Plot summary

The Porter family at first seem normal enough. Bill is the sensible level-headed mother who does the cooking and housework, whilst running a catering business with sex-crazed friend Rona. Ben is the father, who is often equally as immature as the children. He runs a heating repair business with his slightly sarcastic assistant Christine.

Jenny is the typical teenage daughter, keen on boys, music and vegetarianism, and David is the mischievous younger brother, who enjoys horror films, aliens and annoying his older sister.

However the Porter's world is frequently turned upside down due to bizarre occurrences and bad luck. Whether its dealing with flatulent dogs, having frozen men in freezers in the front room, or even stumbling across Shirley Bassey's warehouse, it seems like anything is possible in the Porters' world.

Episodes

The show's original run was from 1991-1999. A total of 56 episodes were made over eight series, including six Christmas specials. Each special saw the cast perform a Christmas or special theme song.

Andrew Marshall virtually wrote the whole series, however a few of the episodes in series seven were written by: Paul Alexander, Simon Braithwaite and Paul Smith.

Critical reception

Critics hailed it as "one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time", whilst some made comparisons to US sitcom Roseanne, yet few critics made the connection between Marshall and former writing partner David Renwick, whose sitcom One Foot in the Grave features a variety of domestic surrealism, similar to 2point4 children.

Further recent articles have made reference to the show being "perhaps one of the most subversive prime-time family sitcoms" noting underlying levels of post modernism such as the main couple being named after the Flowerpot Men and the two children's names referencing the children in Monty Python's "The Atilla the Hun Show" sketch. It has also been noted that the character of Rona can be read as that of a single gay man. Many other similar references and concepts are buried carefully beneath the apparently simple appearance of a family-type comedy, although Marshall has never drawn attention to them in interviews.

Eureka Video has also commented on the show on their website, saying:

Sitcom-wise, the shape of the series itself is different from the norm because, from the earliest episodes, it has centred not on the husband, Ben, but on his wife Bill. Even with the focus on Bill, the series still avoids the traditional woman-as-wife-and-mother theme of other series, instead portraying her as a fully rounded person in her own right, unconfined by her family.

DVD and VHS releases

The first three series were released on Region 2 DVD, by Eureka Video in 2005, however, after insufficient sales, they stated "sales were not good" and that they do not intend to release any more. Despite poor DVD sales a box set of series 1-3 was also made available in 2008, again through Eureka Video.

There are differing reports of why further series have not been released. 2Entertain cite clearance problems in series 7. The use of a life size replica FAB1 car from Thunderbirds in an episode of series 7 was revealed to be the main issue surrounding the delayed release of the series, ITV plc who currently own Thunderbirds will not allow the use of the image without further fees and 2Entertain stated that cutting the image would interfere with the actual episode. Regarding music clearances, writer and creator, Andrew Marshall, comments that "All 2point4 Children shows were produced also in a clearable Worldwide edition, so I can't imagine what these mysterious problems might be, other than ridiculous BBC internal tariffs."

There is currently a Facebook fan campaign to try and get support for the series to be released in its entirety entitled 2point4 Children - Get The BBC To Release The Entire 8 Series On DVD!

The show was produced by the BBC and is still owned by BBC Worldwide, who release a vast amount of their programmes through 2Entertain (which is part owned by BBC Worldwide).

Additionally, BBC Enterprises released a video in 1993, comprising the first three episodes of the series, which are known as: Leader of the Pack, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping.

Title Release date
2point4 children - Complete Series 1 (DVD) 24 January 2005
2point4 children - Complete Series 2 (DVD) 25 April 2005
2point4 children - Complete Series 3 (DVD) 22 August 2005
2point4 children - Series 1-3 Boxset (DVD) 22 September 2008
2point4 children - Leader Of The Pack (VHS) 26 February 1996

Theme music

The programme features an instrumental theme tune with unusual rhythm by Howard Goodall, which remained unchanged throughout the run of the programme, although it was significantly shortened for the final series. The closing theme is an extension of that used for the introduction.

Opening/Closing credit sequence

The programme starts with a distinctive blue 2point4children logo overlaid on an exterior shot of the Porters' terraced house, whilst writer and principal actor credits appear over the succeeding footage. Series one and two features clips from Series one. Series three uses clips taken from more recent episodes, so did Series four. Series five saw a slight change to the format with the footage now taken from all previous four series, as opposed to the unseen episodes of series five. A new look was unveiled for series six with a reworking of the logo (now in 3D colourful letters) which fell randomly from the top of the frame and landed in the correct order at the bottom. The cast were shown dancing against a white backdrop with Belinda Lang taking centre stage literally. Cast and writer credits (featuring Clare Buckfield and John Pickard's names which weren't previously shown until the closing credits) were shown either side of Bill dancing, this new look continued into Series seven. The final eighth series in 1999 saw a modification to this style, with the same principle of the falling colourful letters landing against a white backdrop but now featuring a line drawing of the Porter house with its colourful front door. These titles are shorter than previous series and featured no cast members. The principal actor credits were shown at the beginning of each scene of the episode and appeared in the Futura typeface, as opposed to the former Roman-style serif font that debuted in episode one. The move to filming in digital widescreen for series eight was one reason that necessitated the change in titles.

For the closing credits, series one-five the credits either flashed up on screen over a freeze frame of the final scene which gradually faded to black or scrolled along the bottom third of the frame from right to left (the latter usually reserved for Christmas specials). Series six-eight used a plain white background with the new colourful logo situated at the top of the frame and the credit list scrolling up the centre.

Locations

Although set in the fictitious Chepstow Road, Chiswick, most of the exterior scenes of the house and street for Series 1-5 were filmed on Duke Road in Chiswick. From Series 6 onwards these scenes were filmed on Meon Road in nearby Acton. Interiors were filmed at Television Centre, other than the pilot, which was recorded at BBC Pebble Mill's studio A, with design by Lynda Kettle.

References

External links

  • BBC Programmes
  • BBC Online Comedy Guide
  • British Comedy Guide
  • at Phill.co.uk Comedy Guide
  • Internet Movie Database

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