In Sickness and in Health
In Sickness and in Health
| 01 September 1985 (USA)
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  • Reviews

    Save your money for something good and enjoyable

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    Load of rubbish!!

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    Just perfect...

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    Brendon Jones

    It’s fine. It's literally the definition of a fine movie. You’ve seen it before, you know every beat and outcome before the characters even do. Only question is how much escapism you’re looking for.

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    Johnny Speight first tried following up 'Till Death Us Do Part' with 'Till Death...' - broadcast by ATV in 1981 - which saw Alf and Else retire to Eastbourne . The ratings were disappointing and the plug was pulled very early on the show. Unfazed by this setback, Speight devised another sequel four years later entitled 'In Sickness & In Health', which he took back to the BBC. Alf was his usual cantankerous old self but Else is now wheelchair bound after becoming incapacitated by rheumatoid arthritis, so now it is Alf's job to cart Else around everywhere he goes, a situation which, as one would expect, gets right up his nose.Dandy Nichols, who played Else, was ill during filming. It had such an effect on her physically that here she was barely recognisable. Sadly, she passed away after the first series. The second series saw Alf as a widow, trying to cope with the loss of his wife, as well as a cut in his pension. As the series progressed, Alf later started a relationship with Mrs. Hollingberry ( played by Carmel McSharry ), the Irish widow who lived upstairs from him.Una Stubbs' Rita was seen from time to time, who is now divorced from Mike. Eamonn Walker appeared in the early shows as Alf and Else's black home help Winston ( who Alf nicknamed Marigold ). New to the cast were Arthur English as Alf's mate and drinking buddy Arthur, Ken Campbell as his neighbour Mr Johnson and Eileen Kennally ( later replaced by Tricia Kelly ) as his wife. Patricia Hayes appeared again as Min, though Irene Handl was brought in newly as her batty sister Gwenneth, whose failure to keep her bladder under control caused no end of problems for Alf.Despite losing Dandy Nichols ( one of the show's greatest assets ), 'In Sickness & In Health' managed to compare well with its predecessor. Speight was certainly brave in continuing the show after Nichols' death. Not many script writers manage to successfully carry-on with a show following the death of a vital cast member ( Ian Pattison managed it with 'Rab C. Nesbitt' following the death of Eric Cullen, who played Burney, as did John Sullivan with 'Only Fools & Horses' when Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad, died suddenly ). The new mix of characters made sure Alf still had someone to vent his spleen to, as well having someone to cut Alf down to size when the occasion demanded.Seqeuls mostly tend to be inferior in comparison to their predecessor, other times they are superior. 'In Sickness & In Health' is one of the few shows that manages to be on an equal footing with its predecessor.

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    Five years after the disappointing A.T.V. series 'Till Death', Alf and Else Garnett returned to the B.B.C. for 'In Sickness & In Health'. It was Johnny Speight's best work in years, pitting Alf against the uncaring Thatcherite '80's. The Garnetts are now living in a cheap ground floor flat in London ( no mention is made of their time in Eastbourne ); Else is ill with rheumatoid arthritis and has to be pushed everywhere in a wheelchair, a situation Alf is understandably unhappy with. Dandy Nichols was ill during the making of the first series, and it shows. She died not long afterwards.The second season saw Alf, now a widower, learning to get by with a smaller pension, although this does not stop him from enjoying his beer and tobacco. A new character, Mrs.Hollingbery ( Carmel McSharry ) , was introduced to provide someone for him to argue with, along with Winston ( Eamonn Walker ), Alf's home-help, who happens to be both black and gay. Arthur English was also brought in as Alf's drinking partner Arthur. As was the case with 'Till Death', Una Stubbs managed a few guest appearances as Rita, now divorced from 'that scouse git' Mike. Patricia Hayes cropped up once or twice, as Alf's batty ex-neighbour Min, in tow with her senile, incontinent sister Gwenneth ( the sublime Irene Handl ). My favourite new character was 'Mr.Johnson', excellently played by Ken Campbell, who is as bigoted as Alf in his own way.The combination of Speight's scripts and the new characters made 'In Sickness' one of the best B.B.C. sitcoms of the mid '80's/early '90's. The final series had Alf discovering a cache of used banknotes ( loot from a '50's bank robbery ) in an old wardrobe, and becoming a millionaire. It wasn't as funny as the earlier shows, but it was nice to see Alf living the high life for a change - and finding fault with that too.Revivals of old sitcoms only work when the new show is as good or better than the original. 'In Sickness' was for the most part in the former category, sometimes in the latter.

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