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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
All Gas and Gaiters DVD
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 –
17 June 1971




All Gas and Gaiters, predominantly farcical in nature, was set in the close of the fictional St Ogg's Cathedral and concerned various intrigues and rivalries among the clergy. The "gaiters" in the title refers to part of the traditional dress of bishops and archdeacons. The title itself, however, is a reference to a well-known phrase from Charles Dickens' 1839 novel Nicholas Nickleby, later used by P. G. Wodehouse and by Powell and Pressburger (spoken in the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp), although it had at that time a different meaning.[1] 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 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 Ogg's, but with the twisted 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. Ogg's" 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.[2]

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".[3][citation needed]


The pilot and first three series were videotaped in black-and-white. The third series was taped in colour, but originally broadcast in monochrome. The fourth and fifth series were made and shown in colour. Only 11 episodes still exist in the archive, owing to the wiping 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: 1966Edit

Title Airdate Description Notes
The Bishop Rides Again 17 May 1966 part of Comedy Playhouse

Series 1: 1967Edit

Title Airdate Description Notes
The Bishop Gets the Sack 31 January 1967
The Bishop Meets a Bird 7 February 1967 lost
The Bishop Writes a Sermon 14 February 1967 lost
The Bishop Sees a Ghost 21 February 1967
The Bishop Turns to Crime 28 February 1967 lost
Only Three Can Play 7 March 1967 lost

Series 2: 1967Edit

Title Airdate Description Notes
The Dean Goes Primitive 24 November 1967 lost
The Bishop Gives a Party 1 December 1967 lost
The Bishop Gets a Letter 8 December 1967 lost
The Bishop Goes to Town 15 December 1967 lost
Give a Dog a Bad Name 22 December 1967 lost
The Bishop Gives a Shove 29 December 1967 lost

Series 3: 1969Edit

Title Airdate Description Notes
The Bishop learns the Facts 8 January 1969 lost
The Bishop has a Flutter 15 January 1969 lost
The Bishop is Hospitable 22 January 1969 lost
The Bishop Pays a Visit 29 January 1969 lost
The Bishop takes a Holiday 5 February 1969 lost
The Affair at Cookham Lock 12 February 1969 lost
The Bishop Keeps his Diary 19 February 1969 lost

Series 4: 1970Edit

Title Airdate Description Notes
The Bishop Buys a Car 15 April 1970 lost
The Bishop Gains a Reputation 22 April 1970 lost
The Bishop Loves His Neighbour 29 April 1970
The Bishop Beats the System 6 May 1970
The Bishop Buys a Mug 13 May 1970 lost
When in Rome 20 May 1970 lost
The Bishop Takes Up Business 27 May 1970 lost

Series 5: 1971Edit

Title Airdate Description Notes
The Bishop Warms Up 13 May 1971 b/w only; colour copy lost
The Bishop Entertains 20 May 1971 b/w only; colour copy lost
The Bishop Gives a Present 27 May 1971
The Bishop Shows his Loyalty 3 June 1971
The Bishop Has a Rest 10 June 1971
The Bishop Loses his Chaplain 17 June 1971

Surviving episodesEdit

Series No. Ep No. Title Broadcast Notes
Pilot The Bishop Rides Again 17/5/1966 Previously lost, found in 2001
Series 1 Episode 1 The Bishop Gets The Sack 31/1/1967
Series 1 Episode 4 The Bishop Sees A Ghost 21/2/1967
Series 4 Episode 3 The Bishop Loves His Neighbour 29/4/1970
Series 4 Episode 4 The Bishop Beats the System 6/5/1970
Series 5 Episode 1 The Bishop Warms Up 13/5/1971 b/w only; colour copy lost
Series 5 Episode 2 The Bishop Entertains 20/5/1971 b/w only; colour copy lost
Series 5 Episode 3 The Bishop Gives a Present 27/5/1971
Series 5 Episode 4 The Bishop Shows his Loyalty 3/6/1971
Series 5 Episode 5 The Bishop Has a Rest 10/6/1971
Series 5 Episode 6 The Bishop Loses his Chaplain 17/6/1971

Christmas Night with the StarsEdit

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.[4]

Christmas Special: 1968Edit

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. 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.

Radio episodesEdit

Series One: 1971Edit

  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: 1972Edit

  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 legacyEdit

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.[5]


External linksEdit