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27 November 2014

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Ronnie Corbett and Barbara Lott

It's a mark of the success of Sorry! that its catchphrase, "Language Timothy", uttered by the programme's ineffectual father figure Sidney became a standby saying in families up and down Britain throughout much of the 1980s.

A vehicle for Ronnie Corbett, Sorry! gave him the starring role of mild-mannered librarian Timothy Lumsden, still tied up in mother's apron strings despite having arrived in his forties.

Barbara Lott as Phyllis Lumsden

And Phyllis Lumsden, brilliantly played by Barbara Lott, was a real mother in every sense of the word: cunning, spiteful and ruthlessly determined to keep little Timmy safe at mummy's side and under her thumb for the rest of his natural life.

The result of her machinations was to leave her son permanently on the verge of rebellion but always capable of being won over by the threat of week-old jam roly-poly for tea.

William Moore as Sidney Lumsden

Suffering silently alongside Timothy was his father Sidney, who spent his time hiding in his armchair behind a newspaper.

Much of the series revolved around the unending battle between Phyllis and the succession of girlfriends the bright, funny and charming but terribly shy and tongue-tied Timothy somehow managed to attract.

Ronnie Corbett as Timothy Lumsden

These women - often aided by Timothy's sister Muriel or his best friend Frank – inevitably brought the prospect of escape but, try as it might to spring eternal, hope was always blocked off by Phyllis.

First airing in 1981, Sorry! doubtlessly resonated with an audience containing many men who had been left firmly under Mummy's control while Dad went off to World War II and many women who had to live with the results.

Timothy and Pippa

Ultimately though, the time came for Timothy to make his escape, which he did at the end of series 7, leaving in the arms of girlfriend Pippa.


Ronnie Corbett
Timothy Lumsden
Barbara Lott
Phyllis Lumsden
William Moore
Sidney Lumsden
Roy Holder
Marguerite Hardiman
Derek Fuke
Wendy Allnutt
Bridget Brice


Peter Vincent
Ian Davidson
David Askey
David Askey

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