May to December

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May to December
May to December title card.png
Title card of pilot.
StarringAnton Rodgers
Eve Matheson
Lesley Dunlop
Clive Francis
Rebecca Lacey
Frances White
Paul Venables
Carolyn Pickles
Kate Williams
Ronnie Stevens
Chrissie Cotterill
Ashley Jensen
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series6
No. of episodes39
Production
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Cinema Verity
Broadcast
Original channelBBC1
Original run2 April 1989 (1989-04-02) – 27 May 1994 (1994-05-27)
 
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May to December
May to December title card.png
Title card of pilot.
StarringAnton Rodgers
Eve Matheson
Lesley Dunlop
Clive Francis
Rebecca Lacey
Frances White
Paul Venables
Carolyn Pickles
Kate Williams
Ronnie Stevens
Chrissie Cotterill
Ashley Jensen
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series6
No. of episodes39
Production
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Cinema Verity
Broadcast
Original channelBBC1
Original run2 April 1989 (1989-04-02) – 27 May 1994 (1994-05-27)

May to December is a British sitcom which ran for 39 episodes, from 2 April 1989 to 27 May 1994 on BBC1. The series was written by Paul Mendelson and produced by Cinema Verity.[1] The series was nominated for the BAFTA award for "Best Television Comedy Series" in 1991, but lost out to The New Statesman.[2]

Set in Pinner, London, it revolved around the romance between a widowed solicitor, Alec Callender (played by veteran television actor Anton Rodgers) and a much younger woman, Zoë Angell (played by Eve Matheson in series one and two, and by Lesley Dunlop in series three through six).[3]

The title of the show comes from the Anderson-Weill song "September Song", which is sung during the credits.

The titles of all of the episodes of May To December are taken from songs. Most are from musicals, reflecting Alec and Zoë's mutual interest, but some later ones are hits from the 50s and 60s.[4]

Characters[edit]

Alec Callender - (Anton Rodgers) - a widowed, Scottish solicitor who tries to balance his work, his family and his new romance with a much younger woman, Zoë. Alec idolises Perry Mason, and has a "signed" photo reading "Cheers, Alec, let's crack open a case sometime. Perry."[5] He wishes his cases could be more exciting, like Perry's, but instead the most excitement he sees is the occasional divorce.

Zoë - (Eve Matheson, series 1-2) & (Lesley Dunlop, series 3-6) - a feisty PE teacher, who divorced her husband after discovering he'd been having an affair. She briefly dated the boys' PE teacher, Roy Morgan Jones, but the relationship is not serious and ends almost as quickly as it began.

Miles Henty (Clive Francis) - Alec's surviving partner (Semple died years earlier though his name is still on the door) who is a bit of a womaniser even though he is married to a sculptress named Annabelle. He initially encourages Alec to take Zoë out on a date. He is prominent in the first series and often takes Hillary to lunch, among other places.

Jamie Callender (Paul Venables) - Alec's son, was an easy-going bachelor who approved of his relationship with Zoë. He has a great sense of humour and seldom ever in a bad mood. He's a bit of a free spirit and lightens any scene he is in. He starts as a law student and takes over for Mr. Henty in as Alec's partner after he gets his licence. He is the polar opposite of his sister.

Simone Callender (Carolyn Pickles) - Alec's daughter. Simone is married to a vicar and has a high moral standard that borders on prudish. She is vehemently opposed to her father's relationship with Zoë, especially when they purchase a house a little too close for comfort to the vicarage.

Vera Flood - (Frances White) - The senior secretary who comes across as prim and bookish but has secretly written a romance novel using a pseudonym. Her love life isn't as active as the other characters, especially in the beginning, but she eventually marries a man named Gerald Tipple.

Hillary - (Rebecca Lacey) - the ditzy and scatterbrained junior secretary. She is the exact opposite in every way to Miss Flood from her personality to the way she dresses. She has a long standing relationship with boyfriend Derek, though she is briefly engaged to Miss Flood's nephew, Anthony. She moves to the Isle of Wight at the end of the fifth series.

Debbie - (Chrissie Cotterill) - Zoë's sister. While she doesn't completely approve of their relationship, she is more tolerant of it then most of the family. She works in her parents' grocery store and has a long term relationship with the much talked about, but never seen Trevor, who works nights. She is primarily Zoë's sounding board.

Dot - (Kate Williams) - Zoë's mother. She has quite a bit in common with Alec and likes him, but doesn't approve of her daughter's relationship with him. She has infrequent appearances. She owns a greengrocer's with Zoë's father from whom she later separates briefly before reconciling to the strains of "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White".

Fleur - (Sophie Louise Collinson) (episode 1), (Natalie Boonarec) (episode 2), and (Charlotte Perry) (episodes 3-6) - Alec and Zoë's daughter who is born in the first episode of the fifth series.

Rosie - Ashley Jensen - Replaces Hillary. A mad Scotswoman who is always asking: "Hoo's yer juices?"[citation needed]

Episodes[edit]

Series 1[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
01 - 1.1 (Pilot)2 April 1989It Never Entered My MindZoë Angell is a 26-year-old PE teacher seeking a divorce from her errant milkman husband. In achieving this she visits a solicitor called Alec Callender, a 53-year-old widower. At first things go wrong between them and Zoë storms out, but a chance meeting in a pub with Alec's son draws Alec and Zoë together, starting something that will have a tremendous effect on both of their lives.The very first episode takes its title from a song from the 1940 musical "Higher and Higher" by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers.
02 - 1.29 April 1989Fools Rush InAlec arranges a lunch meeting with Zoë in order to discuss her divorce. They are both attracted to each other but sense that they are getting in too deep. However, when confronted later by a predatory widow, Alec finally decides to ask Zoë out.Written by Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom, originally performed by Glenn Miller.
03 - 1.316 April 1989Send In The ClownsAlec and Zoë are due to go and see Bottoms Up, a musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but Zoë sprains her ankle and is unable to go. In attempting to cheer her up, Alec succeeds in making an ass of himself in front of Zoë's parents.A Grammy award winning song by Stephen Sondheim, featured in his 1973 musical "A Little Night Music".
04 - 1.423 April 1989Anything You Can DoOvercoming their mutual embarrassment over Alec's performance in front of Zoë's parents, Zoë invites Alec to her flat for dinner. But what do they have in common? What will they talk about? Both make attempts to read up on the other's interests, but the evening still looks like being a disaster.From "Annie Get Your Gun" (1946) by Irving Berlin.
05 - 1.530 April 1989They Didn't Believe MeIt is Alec's 54th birthday and he decides that it is time that Zoë met his family, especially his daughter Simone, a vicar's wife with very strict principles. So he invites Zoë along to a Sunday dinner at Simone's. What will she make of Alec and Zoë's relationship?From "The Girl From Utah" (1914) by Herbert Reynolds and Jerome Kern.
06 - 1.67 May 1989There's A Small HotelAlec invites Zoë to his home for dinner, and although they get on very well the house still seems haunted by memories of Alec's wife, so Alec intends to take Zoë away to a small hotel that he knows. Meanwhile, Miss Flood suspects that Mr. Henty is also going away for the weekend — with Hilary.Originally from "Jumbo" (1955) by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, subsequently reused in "On Your Toes" (1956).

Series 2[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
07 - 2.14 January 1990What Kind of Fool Am I?Zoë's decree nisi has finally come through, meaning that she is actually divorced. Alec believes that this something to celebrate, but Zoë isn't quite so sure.From "Stop The World I Want To Get Off" (1961) by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
08 - 2.211 January 1990I Remember It WellAlec meets Zoë's parents for the first time without a horse's head on. They get on so well that Zoë feels left out. Has she fallen down the age gap? And has Alec noticed?From "Gigi" (1958) by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.
09 - 2.318 January 1990You're Driving Me CrazyZoë decides to learn to drive and with Alec teaching her their relationship is at times under considerable stress. Zoë's birthday is approaching and she suspects that Alec is going to buy her a car. Meanwhile Hilary suspects that Miss Flood has got herself a boyfriend and Semple, Callender and Henty receive through the post a romantic novel by one Elvira Storm. Are these two things connected?From "Smiles" (1930) by Walter Donaldson.
10 - 2.425 January 1990Time After TimeZoë isn't seeing much of Alec, who seems to be tired much of the time after his exertions with Zoë, and this leads to Zoë asking him to move into her flat with her. Meanwhile, there is trouble brewing at the office when Alec suspects Miss Flood of being a drugs baron!From "It Happened In Brooklyn" (1947) by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
11 - 2.51 February 1990There's A Place For UsAlec is still undecided about moving into Zoë's flat — is this because it is so small when compared with his house? Meanwhile, after a disagreement with her parents over Derek, Hilary has left home and temporarily moved in with Miss Flood.Taken from "West Side Story" (1961) by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, although the song is actually called "Somewhere (A Place For Us)".
12 - 2.68 February 1990No Other LoveAlec and Zoë are now living together, but there are troubles on the horizon. A new American teacher has arrived at Eldon High and is working closely with Zoë on the school play. Jealousy rears its ugly head and Alec believes that he is going to lose Zoë to a younger man. These events coincide with the return to Pinner of "Dangerous" Dollie Capper, an old flame of Alec's.From "Me and Juliet" (1953) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.
13 - 2.715 February 1990My Funny ValentineAlec and Zoë have split up — very inappropriately as St Valentine's Day is approaching. Alec is so miserable at the office that Hilary decides to try some matchmaking but things go wrong and she only succeeds in losing her job. Note: This episode is the last appearance of Eve Matheson as Zoë.From "Babes In Arms" (1957) by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers.

Christmas Special[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
14 - Sp31 December 1990I'll See You In My DreamsIt is approaching the 25th anniversary of Alec becoming a solicitor and he is becoming bored of dealing just with conveyances and divorces and he wishes for just one big case. There are a number of break-ins at solicitors' offices in the area, including Semple, Callender and Henty, giving Alec the chance to indulge in his Perry Mason fantasies... Note: This was a special episode in which most of the cast play dual roles, and which also featured the first appearance of Lesley Dunlop as Zoë.The title song from a 1951 Doris Day movie, written by Gus Kahn.

Series 3[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
15 - 3.17 January 1991That'll Be The DayTwo anniversaries coincide; Miss Flood has bought some flowers because it is the anniversary of Buddy Holly's death, and Alec and Zoë have been together for one year. Everyone, except Zoë, is starting to think that this would be an opportune moment for the couple to announce their wedding date.For once the actual song is directly relevant to the content of the episode as well as just being an appropriate title, since it is a 1957 hit by Buddy Holly.
16 - 3.214 January 1991The Look Of LoveAlec has sold his house, so he and Zoë are looking for a new home, but they are both looking for different things in a house. Meanwhile, with Miss Flood taking time off to look after her mother, Hilary has made some changes to the office.Written by Burt Bacharah for the movie Casino Royale, where it was performed by Dusty Springfield.
17 - 3.321 January 1991Too Close For ComfortAlec and Zoë have bought a house together — and it just happens to be in the same street as Simone's vicarage. Alec is having problems at home and at work; he has employed a cowboy builder, Hilary is attempting to learn Esperanto, and Jamie appears to be getting involved with a client.From the Sammy Davis Junior Broadway musical "Mr Wonderful" (1956) by Jerry Block.
18 - 3.428 January 1991It's All In The GameThere is competition in the air, be it chess, croquet or Zoë going for promotion at work. Meanwhile, the arrival in Pinner of Miss Flood's nephew starts to distract Hilary from her work and her previously beloved Derek.A 1958 hit for Tommy Edwards, written by Carl Sigman and Charles G Dawes.
19 - 3.54 February 1991The Way You Look TonightAlec's French brother-in-law is due to visit Pinner, and Zoë is preparing to live up to everything she has been told about Alec's late wife. Meanwhile, Jamie is finding work at Semple, Callender and Henty too boring and is preparing to leave.Written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields for the Fred Astaire movie Swing Time (1936).
20 - 3.618 February 1991FeelingsJamie is not pulling his weight at the office and Alec is getting close to firing him. However, he soon finds out why and Zoë sees a side of Alec that she hasn't seen before. Meanwhile, Hilary is intrigued to discover that Miss Flood is seeing a gentleman friend.Originally a song in Portuguese by Mauricio Kaiserman and Thomas Fundera, with subsequent English lyrics by Morris Albert in 1975.
21 - 3.725 February 1991I Guess I'll Have To Change My PlansPassions and desires are appearing in the office; is it between Jamie and Hilary, Alec and Hilary, or still Alec and Zoë? It would appear to be the latter, especially when Zoë announces that she is pregnant. She then springs a surprise on Alec, and Miss Flood gets a shock from Hilary and Anthony.From "The Little Show" (1929) by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.

Series 4[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
22 - 4.18 March 1992This Could Be The Start Of Something BigAlec and Zoë return from the start of their honeymoon to find that Simone is also pregnant and there is a war zone in the office as Miss Flood is still objecting to Hilary's engagement to her nephew.The theme song of 50s comedian and entertainer Steve Allen.
23 - 4.215 March 1992Just Like A WomanAlec believes that Zoë is not capable of doing all of the housework in her condition, so when Clothilde, his French niece, wants to come to Britain he employs her as an au pair. Meanwhile at the office, Miss Flood is behaving very strangely.A 1966 hit for Bob Dylan.
24 - 4.322 March 1992I'm Old FashionedAlec has a new client, Peter Charles, who plays Inspector Dangerfield in a popular TV series. At home, Zoë accuses Alec of being anti-gay when he objects to her working with a homosexual colleague. Meanwhile, Miss Flood is nervous at the prospect of meeting Gerald's daughters, so Hilary decides to lend a hand.A song by Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer that features in the 1942 movie You Were Never Lovelier.
25 - 4.45 April 1992The Party's OverMiss Flood, Gerald, Hilary and Jamie are spending an evening at Alec and Zoë's playing a murder mystery game. Everything seems to be going well, but tragedy is just around the corner.From "Bells Are Ringing" (1958) by Jule Styne and Betty Comden.
26 - 4.512 April 1992The Crying GameEveryone is very upset about Zoë's miscarriage, seemingly except Zoë herself. Jamie's new girlfriend inspires Hilary to try and win back Derek, resulting in a new addition to the Callender household.A 1964 hit for Dave Berry, which also gave its title to the 1992 movie which featured a cover of the song by Boy George.
27 - 4.619 April 1992Catch The BouquetMiss Flood's wedding is rapidly approaching and she is starting to panic about it. Meanwhile, Alec and Zoë's relationship still hasn't returned to normal, and both Jamie and Debbie are having parent problems.A hit for Doris Day in 1965.

Series 5[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
28 - 5.110 March 1993Splish SplashSome time has passed and Zoë is heavily pregnant. She sparks some debate with Alec over the method of birth, favouring a water birth.Recorded by Bobby Darin in 1958.
29 - 5.217 March 1993Baby LoveA proud father again, Alec is taking a lot of paternity leave, leaving Jamie too much work at the office and driving Zoë crazy at home. But Zoë's plan to drive him back to work is in danger of backfiring.A well known hit by The Supremes from 1964.
30 - 5.324 March 1993School DaysAlec infuriates Zoë by putting Fleur's name on a waiting list for a public school without consulting her.A hit by Chuck Berry in 1957.
31 - 5.431 March 1993Who Can I Turn To?Roy Morgan Jones has proposed to Debbie and she faces a difficult decision choosing between him and her current boyfriend Trevor. Zoë is clearly against having Roy as a brother-in-law, and when Debbie goes to Alec for legal advice she sees a chance to use him to influence her sister. Meanwhile, Vera is apprehensive as Jamie attempts to modernise the office.Written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and a hit in 1964 for Tony Bennett.
32 - 5.57 April 1993Let There Be LoveZoë is suffering from post-natal depression and is fed up at being stuck at home, with Alec being on the receiving end. Meanwhile, Hilary is entering lots of competitions and Alec is attempting to win an important new contract from a very boring building society manager.Written by Ian Grant and Lionel Rand, originally a hit for Nat King Cole in 1962.
33 - 5.614 April 1993The Best Is Yet To ComeFleur's christening is approaching and Alec and Zoë disagree over who should be godmother. Meanwhile, Hilary believes she is pregnant and Alec has health problems.Written by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Colemen, and originally recorded by Frank Sinatra.

Series 6[edit]

Episode NumberBroadcast DateTitleDescriptionThe Song in the Title
34 - 6.122 April 1994Nice Work If You Can Get ItWith Hilary having moved to the Isle of Wight, Vera is having difficulties finding a replacement secretary. To Jamie and Alec's horror, Simone is temporarily filling in. Meanwhile, there is conflict in the Callender household over Zoë's wish to return to work.Written by George and Ira Gershwin and featured in the 1937 movie A Damsel In Distress.
35 - 6.229 April 1994Take Good Care Of My BabyWith Zoë back at school, the Callenders need someone to look after Fleur during the day. They try newspaper adverts and an exclusive nanny agency, but the solution is closer than they imagine.A 1961 hit for Bobby Vee.
36 - 6.36 May 1994Son Of My FatherThe school is organizing a series of talks on careers and Zoë wants Alec to talk about being a solicitor. Meanwhile, Jamie has become disillusioned with the profession and wants to leave it, to Alec's disgust.A 1971 hit for Chicory Tip.
37 - 6.413 May 1994Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom WhiteZoë's mother has left her husband and is staying with Alec and Zoë — a situation that Alec is exploiting. Meanwhile, Vera believes that Rosie is being conned by a modelling agency.Originally an instrumental hit for Perez "Prez" Prado in 1955, it was subsequently given French lyrics by Jacques Larese which were translated by Mack David.
38 - 6.520 May 1994Let The Heartaches BeginAlec is sceptical when Jamie introduces a new business plan. Meanwhile, Zoë is trying to fix her sister up on a blind date, but Alec is concerned that the young man is more interested in the wrong sister.A 1967 hit for Long John Baldry.
39 - 6.627 May 1994Until It's Time For You To GoThe 30th anniversary of Vera starting at the office is approaching, and Jamie is organising a surprise "This Is Your Life" party for her. When Alec attends it he has to put on a brave face as he has left Zoë because of her relationship with Mark. Zoë turns up to the party late but she is determined to work things out with Alec. Zoë and Alec leave the party to talk.As recorded by Elvis Presley.

DVD release[edit]

May to December series one and series two are both available on DVD in the UK, distributed by Acorn Media UK.

References[edit]

  1. ^ British Comedy Guide. Accessed 11 January 2014
  2. ^ BAFTA Television Awards. Accessed 11 January 2014
  3. ^ BBC News: "Actor Anton Rodgers dies aged 74", 4 December 2007. Accessed 11 January 2014
  4. ^ Newton, Matthew. "May to December - Episode Guide". Newton's Laws of Television. 
  5. ^ Newton, Matthew. "May to December - Series Overview". Newton's Laws of Television. 

External links[edit]