High HOPES (Welsh TV series)

high HOPES is a sitcom created by Boyd Clack, written by Clack and Kirsten Jones. Produced and directed by Gareth Gwenlan for BBC Wales, High Hopes is set in a fictional area of the South Wales Valleys called Cwm-Pen-Ôl (which is Welsh for 'Backside Valley').

Created byBoyd Clack
Written by
  • Boyd Clack
  • Kirsten Jones
Directed byGareth Gwenlan
StarringRobert Blythe
Margaret John
Steven Meo
Ben Evans
Oliver Wood
Boyd Clack
Keiron Self
Di Botcher
Opening theme"High Hopes" instrumental performed by Dai Brown
Country of originWales
Original languageEnglish
No. of series6
No. of episodes38 (list of episodes)
Executive producerMaggie Russell
ProducerGareth Gwenlan
Running timeapprox. 30 mins
Original networkBBC One Wales
Original release
  • 1 April 1999 (1999-04-01) (pilot)
  • 2 October 2002 (2002-10-02) - 16 December 2008 (2008-12-16)
  • 23 March 2015 (2015-03-23) {Special)

It stars Margaret John as widow Elsie Hepplewhite,[1] Robert Blythe as her son Richard Hepplewhite, Steven Meo as Hoffman and Oliver Wood (formerly Ben Evans) as Charlie. It revolves around Elsie's son Richard (known as Fagin) and his dodgy business ventures, assisted by the two boys, who attempted to rob the Hepplewhites' house in the first episode.[2]

Broadcast Edit

The pilot, with slight differences to future cast and plot, was first broadcast in Wales on 1 April 1999. On 26 July 1999, it was broadcast in England on BBC Two.[3]

The series started in October 2002,[4] and in March 2007, filming began on its fifth series.

The sixth and final series, consisting of six episodes, was first shown on BBC1 Wales weekly from Tuesday, 11 November 2008. But, before it aired a report in the South Wales Echo (6 October 2008), titled 'Welsh sitcom set to be axed', confirmed that: "High Hopes will not be re-commissioned beyond 2009, a BBC spokesman confirmed. He said: "The next series of High Hopes is due to go out this autumn. The series has not been re-commissioned for next year". He added that High Hopes – currently in its fifth series – could return at a future date."

A three-part "Best Bits" special was shown on BBC One Wales, starting 20 September; the third episode was on Sunday, 4 October 2009.

In December 2014 it was announced a one-off special[5] would be screened in March 2015 as a part of the BBC Wales 'Real Valleys' season of programmes.[6]

Series overview Edit

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
162 October 2002 (2002-10-02)6 November 2002 (2002-11-06)
265 November 2003 (2003-11-05)16 December 2003 (2003-12-16)
3610 November 2004 (2004-11-10)21 December 2004 (2004-12-21)
4616 November 2005 (2005-11-16)21 December 2005 (2005-12-21)
2006 Specials4 December 2006 (2006-12-04)19 December 2006 (2006-12-19)
551 March 2007 (2007-03-01)4 April 2007 (2007-04-04)
6611 November 2008 (2008-11-11)16 December 2008 (2008-12-16)
2015 Special23 March 2015 (2015-03-23)

Characters Edit

Richard (Fagin) Hepplewhite Edit

Richard Hepplewhite is a wannabe entrepreneur who lives with his mother in the Welsh valleys. Fresh from serving time for second-degree murder at Strangeways Prison, he is claustrophobic and agoraphobic, running his business empire from his desk at the house. He takes the boys in during the first episode. In one episode, he is briefly cured of his agoraphobia after falling over, but he still lives in fear of being "sucked off by the sky".

Elsie "Mam" Hepplewhite Edit

Elsie is Fagin's mother whose husband was captured by Japan in World War II as a prisoner of war. He died as a POW in Japan during World War 2 when Fagin was a young boy. So, she shares a dislike for the Japanese with Richard, she because of her husband's death, he because of their technological advances. Her grandfather died after swallowing a silver threepence that was in his Christmas pudding, not before running down the road for one and a half miles (bearing in mind he was ninety-four!)

Dwayne Hoffman Edit

Hoffman (his first name Dwayne is rarely used) is a teenage petty criminal whose best friend is Charlie. He and Charlie are apprentices to Fagin's business. Hoffman enters many scrapes, like stealing an iconic Welsh painting "Dafydd ar y Twmp" (or Dafydd and his Hump, according to Hoffman), and trying to escape the clutches of a randy policewoman!

Charlie Jenkins Edit

  • Played by: Ben Evans (2002–2006), Oliver Wood (2007–2008)

Charlie is the second teenager in the household. He seems not to be brighter than Hoffman, and once made a collage of Charlotte Church with no clothes on (or, Charlotte Church's inverted head atop a page three girl's body), and also entering a romance with a Victor (who was eventually discovered to be a girl named Victoria – to Charlie's relief).

Other characters Edit

Other characters include Mrs. Coles, the local shopkeeper (Little Britain regular Di Botcher), PC Claude Cox (Keiron Self), a friend of the family, with a fondness for cake, plastic sex dolls and pornographic films. Also present is show co-writer Boyd Clack who plays Sergeant Ball.

Pilot and series comparison Edit

The pilot and the series in general can be compared:

  • In the pilot, the boys knew Fagin already, but in the series, Fagin met them and their knowledge of each other developed very quickly, although he knew them it was not as if he had known them for long.
  • The whole of the UK (including Wales) saw the pilot, whereas the series was originally shown only in Wales, but was repeated on BBC2 Wales in 2006, which was also available to BSkyB viewers outside Wales as well.
  • Different actors played Hoffman, Charlie and PC Claude Cox.

The series' theme tune is an instrumental version of the 1959 song "High Hopes" played on a Welsh harp by Dai Brown.

The backdrop village seen on the opening and closing credits is Fochriw.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ BBC News – Gavin and Stacey actress Margaret John dies at 84, 2 February 2011. Accessed 20 March 2013
  2. ^ "BBC video clip from episode 1 of High Hopes". Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  3. ^ "BBC Programme Index".
  4. ^ BBC One – High Hopes. Accessed 20 March 2013
  5. ^ "BBC – BBC Wales announces treat for High Hopes fans for 2015 – Media Centre". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  6. ^ Kathryn Williams (19 March 2015). "High Hopes' Fagin on – Wales Online". walesonline. Retrieved 25 May 2015.

External links Edit