Duty Free (TV series)

Duty Free is a British sitcom written by Eric Chappell and Jean Warr that aired on ITV from 1984 to 1986. It was made by Yorkshire Television.

Duty Free
Duty Free (TV series).jpg
StarringKeith Barron
Gwen Taylor
Joanna Van Gyseghem
Neil Stacy
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series3
No. of episodes22
Running time21x25 minutes
1x50 minutes
Production company(s)Yorkshire Television
DistributorITV Studios
Original networkITV
Original release13 February 1984 (1984-02-13) –
25 December 1986 (1986-12-25)


  • Keith Barron as David Pearce
  • Gwen Taylor as Amy Pearce
  • Joanna Van Gyseghem as Linda Cochran
  • Neil Stacy as Robert Cochran
  • Carlos Douglas as Carlos the Waiter
  • Bunny May as Hotel manager (series 1)
  • George Camiller as Hotel manager (series 2 and 3)
  • Ray Mort as George (series 1 and 2)
  • Hugo Bower as Zimmerman (series 1)
  • Joseph Fazal as Spanish Policeman (series 2)


Duty Free is about two British couples, David and Amy Pearce and Robert and Linda Cochran, who meet while holidaying at the same Spanish hotel in Marbella and the interruptive affair conducted by David Pearce and Linda Cochran during their break. Another recurring character is the hotel waiter Carlos.

Although set in Spain, the show was recorded entirely in the Leeds Studios – only for the concluding Christmas special was the budget found to film some scenes in Spain at the Don Carlos Hotel and Spa.

Like many British sitcoms, there was a class-related tension between the two; with the Pearces working-class socialists from Northampton, and the Cochrans a more affluent, middle-class Conservative couple from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. The character of David Pearce, much to his wife's chagrin, became uncomfortable with his own status and politics after meeting the Cochrans and tried to change his outlook.

The series was based on a one-off TV play by Chappell, We're Strangers Here, first performed on TV with Geraldine McEwan and Ian Hendry as a two-hander and subsequently on stage as a four-hander at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.


Series 1 (1984)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Viva Espana"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr13 February 1984 (1984-02-13)
22"El Macho"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr20 February 1984 (1984-02-20)
33"Praying Mantis"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr27 February 1984 (1984-02-27)
44"Spanish Lace"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr5 March 1984 (1984-03-05)
55"Bedroom Farce"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr12 March 1984 (1984-03-12)
66"Forty Love"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr19 March 1984 (1984-03-19)
77"Hasta La Vista"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr26 March 1984 (1984-03-26)

Series 2 (1984)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
81"Mañana"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr6 September 1984 (1984-09-06)
92"Casino"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr13 September 1984 (1984-09-13)
103"Couples"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr20 September 1984 (1984-09-20)
114"El Astro"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr27 September 1984 (1984-09-27)
125"Pepe"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr4 October 1984 (1984-10-04)
136"Snap"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr11 October 1984 (1984-10-11)
147"Adiós"Vernon LawrenceEric Chappell & Jean Warr18 October 1984 (1984-10-18)

Series 3 (1986)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
151"Winter Break"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr8 January 1986 (1986-01-08)
162"Déjà Vu"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr15 January 1986 (1986-01-15)
173"Close Up"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr22 January 1986 (1986-01-22)
184"The Go-Between"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr29 January 1986 (1986-01-29)
195"Costa del Crime"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr5 February 1986 (1986-02-05)
206"Cause Célèbre"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr12 February 1986 (1986-02-12)
217"Party Night"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr19 February 1986 (1986-02-19)

Christmas special (1986)Edit

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
22"A Duty Free Christmas"Les ChatfieldEric Chappell & Jean Warr25 December 1986 (1986-12-25)


The actor Frazer Hines, known for his former role in Emmerdale Farm, and television presenter Judith Chalmers made guest appearances in the series, playing themselves. The former was a hotel guest who tried to seduce Amy Pearce; the latter was filming an episode of Wish You Were Here...? from the hotel and interviewed the two couples.

It set viewing records for a sitcom at the time, regularly topping the UK TV ratings, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Comedy Series in 1986 alongside Only Fools and Horses, Yes, Prime Minister, 'Allo 'Allo!, Ever Decreasing Circles, and lost out to the winner, Just Good Friends.

In May 2015, both Gwen Taylor and Keith Barron played a couple again in an episode of the daytime soap opera Doctors.

Last of the Duty Free - PlayEdit

Last of the Duty Free by Eric Chappell and Jean Warr is a theatrical sequel to the TV series. The scene is many years later in which, as before, deceptions, misunderstandings and preposterous situations abound. Gwen Taylor, Keith Baron and Neil Stacy returned to their previous roles when the play opened at The Royal Theatre, Windsor in April 2014.

On tour, the play's title was shortened to Duty Free.


External linksEdit