TELEVISION / The sitcom now cleared for take-off: Correction

Apologies to the memory of Wilfrid Brambell for re-christening him Alfred in this space yesterday

Obituary: Gerald Thomas

Gerald Thomas, film director: born Hull 10 December 1920; married (three daughters); died Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire 9 November 1993.

TELEVISION / BRIEFING: High on culture, low on laughs

It is not often that you hear Aristophanes' Lysistrata cited on a primetime comedy. And that is not the only respect in which CONJUGAL RITES (8pm ITV) is an unusual sitcom. For a start, it is based on a stage play (by Roger Hall). It is convincingly acted by comedy stalwarts Gwen Taylor (Duty Free, A Bit of a Do, Screaming) and Michael Williams (A Fine Romance, September Song). The first episode is played out by just two characters, frequently breaking into thought bubble monologues. And there is an eyebrow-raising amount of sexual discussion - not to mention activity - for a pre-watershed programme. Unfortunately, in every other way, Barry and Gen lapse into sitcom stereotypes. After 21 years of marriage, their suppertime conversation has dwindled to trading up the car (him) and re-decorating the bedroom (her). They have to think of Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Newman to pep up their love-making. And she is infuriated that he flushes the loo before he has finished urinating. ITV has made it a priority to try to match the standard of BBC1's sitcom output. But, on this evidence, it still has some catching up to do.

Sykes honoured

ERIC Sykes was given a Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution to entertainment at the British Comedy Awards. Top TV Comedy Actor was David Jason; Top TV Comedy Actress was Stephanie Cole; Les Dawson was Top Variety Performer.
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