TAKES A WORRIED MAN... THE COMPLETE FIRST SERIES
a most welcome release for the first series of a sitcom that ran
for three series between 1981 and 1983 (the first two on ITV,
the last on Channel 4), and which seems pretty much forgotten
now. A pity, as this acerbic, dead-pan comedy with a somewhat
bleak world view feels very much like the missing link between
traditional Seventies sit-coms and the overly self-aware stuff
that Channel 4 now regularly trots out.
The show was written by Peter Tilbury (who also created and wrote
the best series of another cynical sit-com, Shelly),
and he also stars as Phillip Roath, a thirty-five year old, Guardian-reading,
psychiatrist-seeing, work-hating divorcee. His employers despair
of the fact that he rarely does any work (but would be too difficult
to fire), his love life is in tatters (a new girlfriend appears
in the first few episodes, but even this remarkably world-weary
woman soon tires of his bleak outlook on life), and his therapist
is more interested in discussing his own problems that dealing
with his patient.
It Takes a Worried Man… is surprisingly biting
for a mainstream ITV sit-com – not just in the dark comedy,
but also in some of the language. Even today, you’d probably
have complaints about a character calling someone “a little
shit” pre-watershed, and I’m fairly certain that this
was a mid-evening show (no doubt someone will tell me if I’m
wrong). It’s also quite progressive for the time –
given that shows like Are You Being Served? were
still on air at the time, it’s interesting and refreshing
to see that Roath’s psychiatrist, Simon (Nicholas le Provost)
is a gay man who isn’t camp and who’s sexuality isn’t
played for cheap laughs – in fact, it’s entirely unremarked
on, and his difficult relationship with boyfriend Gerald is treated
as no different than anyone else’s life of misery and depression.
This is a very verbal show – there are no sight gags, just
long bouts of verbal jousting in a limited number of locations.
This gives the show a rather unique feel. Its smart, cynical humour
holds up rather well (if you disregard the laughter track) and
Tilbury is perfect as the self-absorbed, lazy and depressed main
character – you certainly can’t say he’s given
himself a glamorous role!
It Takes a Worried Man… deserves to be better remembered
than it is. In the absence of TV repeats, this DVD is much appreciated,
and whether you remember the show from the first time around or
are simply looking for a good dose of black humour, it’s
well worth checking out.
IT NOW (UK)