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Goodnight Sweetheart is a British sitcom that ran for six series on BBC1 from 1993 to 1999. The show returned on 2 September 2016, for a one-off special entitled Many Happy Returns.[1] It starred Nicholas Lyndhurst as Gary Sparrow, an accidental time traveller who leads a double life after discovering a time portal allowing him to travel between the London of the 1990s and the same area during the Second World War.[2]

Goodnight Sweetheart
Goodnight Sweetheart title card (with credits).jpg
Title card used for Series 1-6.
Science fiction
Created byLaurence Marks
Maurice Gran
Developed byAlomo Productions
Directed byTerry Kinane
Robin Nash
Nic Phillips
Martin Dennis
StarringNicholas Lyndhurst
Michelle Holmes
Dervla Kirwan
Emma Amos
Elizabeth Carling
Victor McGuire
Christopher Ettridge
Theme music composerRay Noble
Jimmy Campbell
Reg Connelly
Opening theme"Goodnight Sweetheart"
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series6
No. of episodes59 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Claire Hinson
Allan McKeown
Jon Rolph
Producer(s)John Bartlett
Nic Phillips
Humphrey Barclay
Production location(s)London, England
Running time30–45 mins
Original networkBBC 1
Picture format576i (4:3 SDTV)
1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original releaseOriginal Series:
18 November 1993 (1993-11-18) –
28 June 1999 (1999-06-28)
2 September 2016 (2016-09-02)

Lyndhurst had two co-stars portraying his wives in the two eras; both actresses were replaced in later series. His present-day wife was originally played by Michelle Holmes, replaced by Emma Amos; his 1940s 'sweetheart' was originally played by Dervla Kirwan, then replaced by Elizabeth Carling, who had an infant son with him – 'Michael' - whom he met in the 'present' as an adult, played by Ian Lavender.

The show was created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, also creators of Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman. The creators wrote the first series, while subsequent episodes were by a team of writers (including Marks and Gran).[3]

Although originally made for the BBC, the series has subsequently been repeated on ITV3, Gold, Drama, Yesterday and Forces TV on Sky Digital.

For his starring role, Lyndhurst won the Most Popular Comedy Performer at the National Television Awards twice in 1998 and 1999.[4]


Filming locationEdit

The original entrance to Duckett's Passage, leading to the Royal Oak, is located at Ezra Street, London, E2 7RH. The Royal Oak is near Ezra Street, at 73 Columbia Road, E2 7RG.

Plot summaryEdit

Gary Sparrow is a somewhat disillusioned TV repairman, in a drab marriage with his ambitious wife Yvonne, and best friends with Ron Wheatcroft, a printer whose marriage is on the brink of breakdown. While on a TV repair call-out in London's East End, Gary accidentally discovers a time portal at Duckett's Passage, which leads to war time London. There he meets Phoebe Bamford, a pretty barmaid who works in the Royal Oak pub, her father Eric who runs the Royal Oak, and Reg Deadman, a dim-witted but friendly policeman.

Gary strikes up a friendship with Phoebe, and makes repeated trips through the time portal, gradually establishing a second life for himself in the 1940s. In this life, he claims to be both a secret agent (aided by his knowledge of future wartime events) and a singer-songwriter, by passing off modern-day pop songs as his own, particularly songs by The Beatles. He impresses Phoebe by bringing her goods which are widely available in the present day, but were rationed in wartime Britain, such as chocolate, bacon and nylons, and they begin a romance.

Throughout the series, Gary flits between both time periods, struggling to balance his two lives and keep Yvonne and Phoebe happy, getting tangled in webs of lies and deceit as he invents cover stories to explain away his constant absences to both. Most episodes centre on a dilemma for Gary caused by his dual life, often having to choose between letting Yvonne or Phoebe down. Ron is the only other character who knows of his double life – he helps Gary by printing 1940s five-pound notes and ID documents for him – and it is to him who Gary usually turns when in a predicament, even if helping him is to Ron's detriment.

As the series progresses, the characters are developed further. Gary and Phoebe eventually marry and have a son, Michael. Yvonne also becomes pregnant, but suffers a miscarriage. Gary opens a shop in the present day, named "Blitz and Pieces", selling goods he acquires in the 1940s as rare memorabilia. Ron and his wife Stella separate and divorce. Gary and Phoebe move to a luxury flat in Mayfair, where they befriend Noël Coward. Yvonne becomes a millionairess with a successful organic beauty products company, and a personal friend of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie. In the final episode, set on VE Day, Gary finds that the time portal has closed, trapping him in the past for good, leaving Ron to explain the truth to Yvonne.

2016 episodeEdit

In the 2016 special, Gary is still married to Phoebe, and Michael is now a teenager. Gary misses the modern world. On his birthday in 1962, he visits the hospital where his younger self is being born and, after briefly being given his younger self to hold (his dad having fainted), Gary is thrown forward into the future, reopening the time portal, which now emerges in the men's toilets in a trendy East London burger joint called Hoof And Claw (where Blitz and Pieces used to be), Yvonne having chosen Gary's old shop for the first of her burger chains location. During his time in the future, he learns that Ron is now living in Yvonne's basement, that multimillionaire Yvonne is now an investor on the BBC's Dragons' Den, and that he and Yvonne have a 16-year-old daughter named Ellie. He returns to the past, but contemplates living a double life again so that he can get to know his daughter, thus leaving a plausible link for any future series.


A total of 59 episodes were made, including a Christmas special in 1995 and a special in 2016. Marks and Gran, the creators, wrote the first series; many later episodes were written by other writers.

As in Marks and Gran's sitcom Get Back, most episodes of Goodnight Sweetheart — and the programme itself — were named after popular song titles. The show is named after the song "Goodnight, Sweetheart", a popular song of the 1930s and 1940s, popularised by Al Bowlly in 1931; it was later sung by Nick Curtis as the series signature tune. During one episode Gary and Phoebe refer to Bowlly's death during the Second World War.

Because of a script-editing error, two different episodes (series one, episode six and series four, episode two) were both titled "In the Mood". There is no special connection between these two episodes.


Actor Role Episodes Series Years
Nicholas Lyndhurst Gary Sparrow 59 1–6 and 1 special 1993–99, 2016
Victor McGuire Ron Wheatcroft
Christopher Ettridge P.C. Reg Deadman 56 1–6 and 1 special (Not in 1x02, 1x04, 2x04)
Elizabeth Carling Phoebe Bamford 32 4–6 and 1 special 1997–99, 2016
Dervla Kirwan 27 1–3 1993–96
Emma Amos Yvonne Sparrow 31 4–6 and 1 special (Not in 4x04) 1997–99, 2016
Michelle Holmes 27 1–3 1993–96
David Ryall Eric 6 1 1993
David Benson Noël Coward 6 5–6 1998–99
Ian Lavender Michael Sparrow 1 5 1998
Tim Preston Michael Sparrow 1 1 special 2016
Esme Coy Ellie 1 1 special 2016

DVD releasesEdit

All six series and the 1995 Christmas Special have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2), the Christmas special was released on the third series DVD. The first five series have been released in Australia (Region 4).

DVD Title No. of discs Year No. of episodes DVD release DVD Interview
Region 2 Region 4
Complete Series 1 1 1993 6 4 February 2005 3 June 2009 Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran (Creators)
Complete Series 2 2 1995 10 26 September 2005 3 June 2009 Christopher Ettridge (Reg Deadman)
Complete Series 3 2 1995 & 1996 11 23 January 2006 17 September 2009 Dervla Kirwan (old Phoebe)
Complete Series 4 2 1997 11 22 May 2006 2 June 2011 Emma Amos (new Yvonne)
Complete Series 5 2 1998 10 24 July 2006 2 August 2011 David Benson (Noël Coward)
Complete Series 6 2 1999 10 18 September 2006 Elizabeth Carling (new Phoebe)
Complete Series 16 11 1993–99 58 23 October 2006 All of the above
  • Note although the 2016 special "Many Happy Returns" has not been released onto DVD it was released digitally September 2016 on BBC Store.[5]

Historical figuresEdit

Although the main characters are fictional, some real people have been portrayed in the wartime sequences. These include King George VI, Wilfred Pickles, Winston Churchill, Ed Murrow, Guy Burgess, George Formby, Noël Coward (played by David Benson), Celia Johnson, the Kray twins, Trevor Howard, Alfred Lennon, David Lean, Clement Attlee, Adolf Hitler and Cecil Beaton. Rolf Harris also appeared as himself in a daytime dream sequence.[note 1] Jack the Ripper features in one episode. Vera Lynn is also mentioned in the episode "When Two Worlds Collide" when Phoebe hears modern music, while John Lennon is mentioned as a local boy who can write better songs than Gary's modern compositions when he and Phoebe visit Liverpool in the episode "The Leaving of Liverpool". The Beatles are also mentioned numerous times throughout the show as Gary is a fan and during the wartime sequences, Gary plays many of their songs on the pub piano, while claiming to have written them.


The show's writers and producers have stated they have received thousands of emails and letters regarding the show wishing for its return to the small screen. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have both stated that while there are no plans to bring the series back, it might possibly come back if the planned musical is made and is a success.

On 5 July 2016 it was announced that the show would be returning to BBC One for a one-off special episode, as part of the BBC's "landmark sitcom season". Unlike the original series, which was filmed in London, it was filmed and produced at dock10, in Salford Quays. Original writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran wrote the script, and original star, Nicholas Lyndhurst, returned to the role of Gary Sparrow.[6]

The special episode aired on 2 September 2016 on BBC One. It received overwhelming praise by fans of the show and was trending on Twitter for eight hours after it aired. Writers Marks and Gran announced on Twitter on 6 October that the BBC had passed on making a new series.[7]

In 2017, Marks and Gran said they are working as hard as they can to bring Goodnight Sweetheart back to TV screens as soon as they can with the possibilities of a new channel to air future episodes. This is backed by the campaign BBGNS are running on their website.


Since 2014 there has been talk of Goodnight Sweetheart being turned into a musical[8] and in December 2017, dates for the long anticipated stage musical were announced. This jukebox style musical would feature well-known songs from the 1940s and 1980s with the world premiere taking place at the Brookside Theatre, Romford in September 2018[9]. The production to be directed by Disco Inferno author, Jai Sepple.


  1. ^ After Harris' post-filming criminal convictions, the short dream sequence did not appear in later broadcasts


  1. ^ "Goodnight Sweetheart (an Episode Guide)".
  2. ^ Masters, Tim. "BBC News – Goodnight Sweetheart: Musical future for time travel show?". Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  3. ^ "BBC – Comedy Guide – Goodnight Sweetheart". Archived from the original on 5 December 2004. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Winners – The National Television Awards". Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Goodnight Sweetheart". BBC Store. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Goodnight Sweetheart is coming back with Nicholas Lyndhurst returning to star". Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  7. ^ Kitchener, Shaun. "BBC 'would be CRAZY' not to make full series of Goodnight Sweetheart after reboot special". Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  8. ^ Masters, Tim (17 November 2013). "BBC News – Goodnight Sweetheart: Musical future for time travel show?". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Brookside Theatre". Retrieved 15 December 2017.

External linksEdit