Brush Strokes

Last updated

Brush Strokes
Genre Sitcom
Starring Karl Howman
Gary Waldhorn
Mike Walling
Howard Lew Lewis
Jackie Lye
Opening theme"Because of You"
Dexys Midnight Runners
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series5
No. of episodes40
Running time29 mins approx.
Original network BBC1
Original release1 September 1986 (1986-09-01) 
7 April 1991 (1991-04-07)

Brush Strokes is a British television sitcom, broadcast on BBC television from 1986 to 1991. Written by Esmonde and Larbey and set in south London, it depicted the (mostly) amorous adventures of a wisecracking house painter, Jacko (Karl Howman). There were 40 episodes spread over five series.



Jacko (Karl Howman) works as a house painter alongside his brother-in-law, Eric (Mike Walling), who was married to Jacko's sister Jean (Nicky Croydon). He lives with his sister and brother-in-law in a similar set up to Stan Butler's (Reg Varney) character in On the Buses . Jacko also shares an anti-authority humour. In this case the butt of his humour is his boss, Lionel Bainbridge.

Gary Waldhorn played Lionel, and Elizabeth Counsell played his wife, Veronica, who had a crush on Jacko. The Bainbridges had a daughter called Lesley who is a spoiled daddy's girl, and became Jacko's girlfriend during series one. She was played by two actresses during the life of the show: Kim Thomson in the first series and Erika Hoffman from series two onward. In series one it was hinted that Jacko was somehow indebted to Lionel and working for him after the pair had become involved with some unlawful money-making wheeling-dealing some years prior, for which Jacko almost got caught and was set to stand trial until Lionel used his 'respectable business reputation' to fabricate a story and get him off the hook, leaving Jacko 'indebted' and working for him, against his better wishes, as a result. This history between the pair was several times hinted at during the first series, but was never mentioned from series two onwards.

Jacko is a ladies' man. Much of the humour comes from his attempts at picking up women whilst around town on painting jobs - much to the disdain of his sister, his boss, and his boss's secretary.

Jackie Lye played Sandra, the secretary at work who became Jacko's fiancée in series two (although the wedding never happened - but they still went on the honeymoon, because they'd paid for it). Other familiar faces that have appeared in episodes include Janine Duvitski, Tracie Bennett and Pippa Haywood.

The show is remembered by many for the slow-off-the-mark pub landlord, Elmo Putney (Howard Lew Lewis) who ran the pub where Jacko and friends took their lunch breaks. Elmo's catch phrase instead of swearing was 'Chisel'. In later episodes, Jacko unsuccessfully started his own company, "Splosh". Later Elmo leaves for Australia to set up another business in Alice Springs - which because of its name he thinks must be near a very large body of water. Elmo became a rich man after his dog discovered opals in Australia. Elmo returned and bought Jacko's failing company and turned it into a wine bar, where everything was decorated in pink. Jacko returned to Bainbridge's, where Veronica was now in charge after Lionel's death.

Two years after the series had ended, with the BBC feeling it had run its course, a spin-off was proposed, titled Elmo's and based around the popular character of Elmo opening up and running a new wine bar, after the old one had been destroyed in a fire. A pilot was written but the series never entered production.

Series 1 - 6 Episodes Series 2 - 7 Episodes Series 3 - 6 Episodes Series 4 - 6 Episodes Series 5 - 8 Episodes


The theme song "Because of You" was written and performed by Dexys Midnight Runners. Released as a single in November 1986, it reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart.

Other media

Jacko and Elmo also appeared in the 1989 Comic Relief show on BBC1 as a pair of murderous psychopaths.

Brush Strokes is also repeatedly referred to as a running joke in Diane Morgan’s 2018 show Cunk On Britain . [1]

DVD releases

The first series was released around 2004 but went out of print. In 2011 (the 25th anniversary of the show's debut) it was re-released, credited as series 1 & 2, (to celebrate 25 years of the hit sitcom itself) under BBC DVD format.

The complete second and third series, credited as series 3 & 4, finally followed on 16 April 2012.

The fourth and fifth series, also credited as series 5 & 6, was released on 5 August 2013, followed by the complete collection set, consisting of all 5 series of the show, on the 7 October 2013.

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  1. Dessau, Bruce (31 March 2018). "TV: Cunk On Britain, BBC2". Beyond the Joke.