Dear John (UK TV series)

Dear John (UK TV series)
Dear John
Dear John (UK).jpg
Genre Situation comedy
Written by John Sullivan
Starring Ralph Bates
Belinda Lang
Peter Denyer
Peter Blake
Rachel Bell
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of episodes 14
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel BBC
Original run 17 February 1986 –
21 December 1987

Dear John is a British sitcom, written by John Sullivan. Two series and a "special" were broadcast between 1986 and 1987.

This sitcom's title referred to letters sent by girls to their boyfriends breaking off the relationship, known as "Dear John" letters. In the opening episode, John discovers his wife is leaving him for a friend, and he is forced to find lodgings. In desperation, he attends the 1-2-1 Singles Club and finds the other members mostly social misfits.

It was re-made for the U.S. market.



Major characters

  • John Lacey (Ralph Bates) — John is a secondary school teacher whose wife leaves him for his best friend, Mike. He is thrown out of his home and has to continue paying the mortgage while living in a bedsit. Although John's wife is manipulative and John the victim, he admits he neglected his wife emotionally. He feels cut off from his son, to whom he has access only on Sundays. They end up at the zoo because it's the only place open, his son saying they've seen one penguin so many times that the first time they came "he was an egg". John's problems come from inability or unwillingness to confront someone or from being too nice - situations rebound in unexpected ways.
  • Kate (Belinda Lang) — A "frigid" woman with three failed marriages. She spars with Kirk, whose lust for her becomes a theme. She ends up in bed with John although it is suggested there was no sex as they were both drunk. Eventually she goes to Greece with her new boyfriend (to the chagrin of Kirk) only to reappear in the final episode.
  • Ralph (Peter Denyer) — A misfit who married a Polish immigrant who left him as soon as she got a British passport. He has a close friendship with Kirk even though Kirk holds him in disdain. He often gives Kirk a lift home on his motorcycle combination. In series two, Ralphy (as Kirk calls him) surprises everyone by becoming Dazzlin' Darren the Night Club DJ. Unfortunately his microphone patter is not as glitzy as his name.
  • Kirk St Moritz / Eric Morris (Peter Blake) — Dressed in the style of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, crass, chauvinist and tactless Kirk (who claims to be a spy) is shown at the end of series one to be a fictional personality created by someone called Eric who, though mid-thirties, lives in squalor with an overbearing mother who call him Big Ears. His room is filled with toy guns and The A-Team posters. The long, rambling and often preposterous anecdotes of Kirk about his "experiences" seducing nuns and the Vietnam War are contrast with our knowledge that Eric is likely a virgin and has done next to nothing. Eric claims to John in private that Kirk represents all he aspires to and also that he has other personas - suggesting Eric has become a persona he presents to his mother, just as Kirk is the persona he presents to the 1-2-1 Club - while Kirk explains Eric in public as an undercover version of Kirk and his mother as his controller in disguise. In the final episode, Eric is returning with Kirk's dry-cleaned outfit when he sees his friends about to be beaten by Hells Angels. In a homage to Superman films, he retreats into the pub toilet and (after the Superman theme is played) emerges as Kirk. Kirk beats up the Hells Angels. Eric has a fascination with "Tiger" Kate, whom he insults and who insults him back, although he claims that under the surface he is "kind of fond of her" and tries to get John to organise a date for him.
  • Louise (Rachel Bell) — The leader of the group divorced her husband because of his fetishistic tendencies and remains obsessed with other people's sex lives - this may be her reason for organising the group and certainly the cause of her catchphrase "Were there any sexual problems?"
  • Sylvia (Lucinda Curtis) — A late addition, Sylvia was a nervous woman with an irritating laugh who divorced her husband because of his transvestism.

Minor characters

  • Mrs Arnott (Jean Challis) — Quiet, hat-wearing Mrs Arnott (who has depression) sits at the back dressed in dowdy, functional clothing occasionally chipping in with unexpected comments such as that her husband used to make her play hoopla with ring doughnuts. Eventually she leaves to look after her daughter's children when her daughter goes to work in Africa for VSO.
  • Toby Lacey (William Bates) — Ralph Bates' real-life son portrays his screen son, Toby.
  • Wendy (Wendy Alnutt) — John's sexually manipulative and bossy ex-wife.
  • Mike Taylor (Darren Traynor) — Wendy's live-in lover. He was later played by Roger Blake.
  • Ken (Terence Edmond) — Ken is John's work colleague who, in contrast to John's desire to have a loyal partner, desires to spread his oats and has nothing but envy for what he imagines is John's new life of sexual freedom. He and his wife have children whose upkeep and company he finds a drain. It is insinuated that she forces him to have a vasectomy.
  • Mrs Lemenski (Irene Prador) — An older Polish woman who occupies the bedsit next to John's and catches him in humiliating circumstances such as hitting his head on the wall in frustration. She refers to him as "you loony person" or "fruitcake person". She reveals herself to be a lonely woman who lost her husband in the Second World War.
  • Mrs. Morris (Sheila Manahan) — Kirk/Eric's overbearing Irish mother
  • Ricky Fortune (Kevin Lloyd) — A one-hit-wonder in Iceland, Ricky Fortune joins only to be mocked by Kirk for his anonymity, and leaves.

Episode list

All episodes thirty minutes, apart from episode 2.7, which was a 50 minute Christmas special.

Episode # Title Original airdate
1.1 "A Singular Man" February 17, 1986 (1986-02-17)
1.2 "In The Club" February 24, 1986 (1986-02-24)
1.3 "Death" March 3, 1986 (1986-03-03)
1.4 "The Party" March 10, 1986 (1986-03-10)
1.5 "Toby" March 17, 1986 (1986-03-17)
1.6 "The Fourteen Year Itch" March 24, 1986 (1986-03-24)
1.7 "Under Cover" March 31, 1986 (1986-03-31)
2.1 "A New Member" September 7, 1987 (1987-09-07)
2.2 "Confidence" September 14, 1987 (1987-09-14)
2.3 "Problems With Toby" September 21, 1987 (1987-09-21)
2.4 "Sanctuary" September 28, 1987 (1987-09-28)
2.5 "Torquay" October 5, 1987 (1987-10-05)
2.6 "Once Bitten" October 12, 1987 (1987-10-12)
2.7 "Kate Returns" December 21, 1987 (1987-12-21)

Title Music

The title music was composed by John Sullivan, who was also writer of the series. The theme tune was arranged by Ronnie Hazlehurst who was a composer for many BBC sitcoms. Joan Baxter provided the vocals to the song.


Dear John appeared on video in 1998, three cassettes with both series and the Christmas special, under Playback Entertainment.

Acorn Media UK released both series of Dear John on DVD in the UK in 2010.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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