Produced by London Weekend Television, this series was written by Peter de Rosa and is based upon his autobiographical novels written as "Neil Boyd". The series is an engagingly idiosyncratic situation comedy based on the post-war experiences of a young priest sent to the parish of St. Jude's in the London suburb of Fairwater in 1950. Although it is not necessary to understand the sociological underpinnings to enjoy the comedy, the series gains extra bite from the relatively embattled situation of the parishioners as (mainly Irish) Catholics in a firmly Protestant Britain just recovering from the war and still smarting under Government rationing and other restrictions. (It should also be noted that St. Jude is the Catholic patron saint of lost causes...) Period detail is understated but convincing, particularly the hideous clothes worn by the pious women.
The core of the series is naive and rather shy, Father Boyd's education at the hands of Father Duddleswell, an experienced parish priest whose staunch faith occasionally seems dangerously old-fashioned to Father Boyd but is usually revealed to be tempered by shrewd common sense and genuine goodness. Veteran character actor Arthur Lowe is quite magnificent in the role, conveying Father Duddleswell's limitations as well as his strengths, and making the growing affectionate bond between the two priests convincing and subtly moving. It is Father Duddleswell's nemesis Mother Stephen (head of the local convent) and Bishop Reilly who embody the hidebound and sometimes cruel aspects of the Church hierarchy. (It should be noted that novelist de Rosa is a formerpriest himself.) Daniel Abineri is convincingly earnest and gauche as the newly ordained curate embarrassed by his own good looks and appeal for the female members of the congregation. (So far as I know this is the only series Abineri appeared in.)
Sharp-tongued housekeeper Mrs. Pring has a love-hate 40-year relationship with Father Duddleswell which produces some delightful insult matches, as does his conflict with next-door neighbour Billy Buzzle, a Cockney bookie and black-marketeer. Most of the Irish ethnic comedy is embodied in Doctor Daley, usually seen downing a whiskey with a fag end still in his mouth while reminiscing about the Connemarra childhood he shared with his oldest friend.moreless