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24 September 2014

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Early Doors

Early Doors

It was originally intended that this sitcom, set in a typical northern local pub called The Grapes, would be written jointly by Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne.

Aherne, however, quit England and so Cash asked his old friend Phil Mealey to come on board.

Together they produced a low-key modern classic, taking the dowdy, naturalistic feel of The Royle Family, but placing it in a setting which provided a more eclectic bunch of characters.

Landlord Ken has been left by his wife (for his best friend), but lives with his adopted daughter Melanie and mother Jean.

Jean browbeats her canny home help Winnie, whilst Melanie has a naïve young boyfriend called Liam (although James McAvoy's burgeoning career lead to him vanishing and being replaced by new beau Dean for series two).

The pub regulars were written and cast to perfection, each instantly believable: cheeky chappies Joe and Duffy, whose close friendship dates back to childhood; dull couple Joan and Eddie: the latter alarmingly knowledgeable about local traffic flow; Old Tommy, the typical grumpy, avaricious old soak; single mother Janice and Phil and Nige: indolent and crooked local Bobbies.

The big theme of series one was Melanie's search for her biological father, which allowed Henshaw to display genuine pathos as he wrestled with his conflicting emotions.

The second series concerned itself with whether the pub would be re-branded beyond recognition: displaying just how much this mini-community relied on the pub and each other.

The gently paced yet sharp comedy revolved around such everyday pub occurrences as blocked urinals, drawing the football card and missing Maltesers.

Early Doors crept in under the radar, but soon picked up superb reviews and maintained a healthy following, as well as winning the Best Writing Award two years running at The North West Comedy Awards.

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