The Grove Family

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The Grove Family
Created by Roland and Michael Pertwee
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes148
ProducerJohn Warrington
Running time15 minutes (April 1954–September 1955)
30 minutes (September 1955–June 1957) [1]
Original network BBC
Picture format 405-line black-and-white
Audio format Mono
Original release9 April 1954 (1954-04-09) 
28 June 1957 (1957-06-28)

The Grove Family was a British television series soap opera, generally regarded as the first of its kind broadcast in the UK, [2] made and broadcast by the BBC Television Service from 1954 to 1957. The series concerned the life of the family of the title, who were named after the BBC's Lime Grove Studios where the programme was made.


The programme was written by Roland and Michael Pertwee, the father and elder brother respectively of actor Jon Pertwee. As was common for British television at the time, the series was broadcast live and very few episodes survive in the archives: only three of the original 148 episodes. [3] One of the few surviving shows was transmitted on BBC Four during 2004. A film version produced during 1955 by the Butchers company, written by the Pertwees and featuring the television cast, exists as an example of the series. [4] The film was entitled It's a Great Day and shown on the Talking Pictures TV channel in July 2017. During 1954 The Grove Family was viewed by almost a quarter of British people with a television. [2]

The show was reportedly brought to an end when, after three years' writing, the Pertwees' request for a break was refused by the BBC, with the Corporation preferring to cancel the popular series altogether. [5]

Peter Bryant, who featured as Jack Grove, later became a script editor and producer of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who . [6] Christopher Beeny, who played the teenage Lennie Grove, later featured in the series Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–75), and actress Ruth Dunning (Gladys Grove) later won a BAFTA award for her work on Armchair Theatre . [7] [8]

In 1991 during a special day of programming on BBC2 to commemorate the closing of Lime Grove, a new edition of the programme was shown, a modern production of one of the original scripts with the roles filled by popular television soap opera actors of the time including Leslie Grantham, Anna Wing, Sue Johnston, Nick Berry, Sally Ann Matthews, Paul Parris and Kellie Bright. [9]


The lower middle-class Grove family live in the London suburb of Hendon. [10] Patriarch Bob Grove is a builder, allowing the show to demonstrate basic home security. [11] He lives with his mother, his wife, and their four children. The first episode shows the family making their last mortgage payment, and over the course of the series Bob tries to grow his business and attain prosperity in postwar Britain. The fourth episode shows Gran buying the family a television set, a sign of the new consumerism. [1]

Theme tune

The theme tune, named Family Joke and featuring harmonica played by Tommy Reilly, was composed by Eric Spear, who went on to become better known as the composer of the theme tune to the long-running soap opera Coronation Street . [12]

Principal cast

See also

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  1. 1 2 Laing, Stuart (7 November 1986). Representations of Working-Class Life 1957–1964. Macmillan International Higher Education. ISBN   9781349184590.
  2. 1 2 "Grove Family, The (1954–57)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  3. "Lost UK TV Shows – The Grove Family". Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  4. "It's a Great Day – review - cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online". Radio Times.
  5. Evans, Jeff (2003). The Penguin TV Companion, 2nd edition. London: Penguin. p. 308. ISBN   0141012218.
  6. "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Season 4".
  7. "BFI Screenonline: Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-75)".
  8. "BAFTA Awards".
  9. "The Grove Family (1991)". BFI.
  10. Cooke, L. (18 October 2013). Style in British Television Drama. Springer. ISBN   9781137265920.
  11. "BFI Screenonline: Grove Family, The (1954-57)".
  12. IMDb