Ronald Chesney and Ronald Wolfe were two of the best TV comedy writers at the BBC, responsible for some of the most iconic sitcoms of the 1960s and 70s.
In tribute to a partnership that led to much laughter, we remember some of the best sitcoms penned by this prolific duo.
Chesney and Wolfe’s first major BBC sitcom The Rag Trade is a British comedy classic about a small London-based garment factory making high-quality clothing for the rich and famous. It became an instant hit in the 60s, giving us one TV’s most iconic catchphrases: “everybody out!”. Militant shop steward Paddy Fleming shouted it regularly to get the women workforce out on strike against the shop’s penny-pinching owner.
Widely praised for its sharply comical script and energetic performances from a starry cast featuring Barbara Windsor, Sheila Hancock, Carry-On staple Esma Cannon and Reg Varney. Singer Lynsey de Paul wrote and performed the series theme tune.
Following the successful pilot of the BBC Comedy Playhouse series The Bed, Chesney and Wolfe developed the hit sitcom Meet the Wife, which ran for five series.
Meet the Wife was the BBC’s first domestic sitcom centred around the ups and downs of married life. Freddie Frinton starred as laid-back Freddie Blacklock, with BAFTA-winner Thora Hird as his tyrannical wife, who was obsessed with improving the couple’s social standing. Unsurprisingly, it’s considered, by many, to be the inspiration behind BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances.
The Beatles were fans and referred to the sitcom in their song “Good Morning Good Morning” with these lyrics: “It’s time for tea and Meet the Wife”.
Probably the duo’s most famous sitcom, On the Buses was rejected by the BBC but luckily for us, picked up by Frank Muir at ITV, who loved the idea. The comedy centres on the antics of a pair of incompetent bus drivers. Reg Varney stars as cheeky driver Stan Butler who lives at home with Mother, frumpy sister Olive and her lazy husband Arthur. Stan spends most of his time at work moaning to his conductor and close friend, Jack, and irritating Inspector Cyril ‘Blakey’ Blake.
Although the show was initially panned by critics, the audience loved it. On the Buses went on to become a 'cult sensation’.
The original sitcom spawned three movies, a stage version and a spin-off series called Don’t Drink the Water, also written by Chesney and Wolfe, about Blakey’s retirement to Spain.
Dad’s Army’s James Beck stars alongside Jo Rowbottom, Queenie Watts and Arthur Mullard in this tale of the lives and misadventures of two different couples living next to each other on a run-down caravan site during the 1970s.
Romany Jones focused on the one-upmanship and bad manners of the two couples amidst the mud and poverty of the campsite. The characters of Wally and Lily Briggs proved so popular they went on to a achieve their own spin-off series, Yus My Dear.
Browse our collection of Chesney and Wolfe’s hit sitcoms Here.