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Classic TV Comedy: Agony – Maureen Lipman,Simon Williams – S02 E01 – Back To Reality


Writing in The Guardian, television critic Nancy Banks-Smith praised the series, describing it as “a wide-awake, wise-cracking comedy with a cracking good comedienne in Maureen Lipman” and that “the one-liners are one a second, fast and fresh and funny


Agony is a British sitcom that aired on ITV from 1979 to 1981. Made by London Weekend Television, it stars Maureen Lipman as Jane Lucas who has a successful career as an agony aunt but whose own personal life is a shambles. It was created by Len Richmond and real-life agony aunt Anna Raeburn, both of whom wrote all of the first series. The second and third series were written by Stan Hey and Andrew Nickolds.

Agony was the first British sitcom to portray a gay couple as non-camp, witty, intelligent and happy people

Jane Lucas is an agony aunt, who is highly successful in her career working at radio call-in show (for Happening Radio 242) in London and writing the “Dear Jane” advice column for Person magazine, but whose own marriage and personal life is a complete disaster. Her Jewish mother, Bea, interferes in all aspects of her life, and her gentile psychiatrist husband Laurence (Simon Williams) is unreliable and emotionally inept during the course of their on/off relationship. Jane’s friends and colleagues include her assistant Val, her boss Diana, and her gay neighbours Rob and Michael, all of whom come to her with problems of their own. Meanwhile, Jane has to contend with the constant advances of oversexed, smarmy radio disc jockey Andy Evol and the equally libidinous Vincent Fish (Bill Nighy).

Although a sitcom, Agony often included subjects in its storylines that were considered taboo at the time such as drug use, racism, and homosexuality, and often included darker, more dramatic storylines such as Jane being held hostage by a crazed maniac, the suicide of one of her friends, and the abduction of her newborn baby.


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