The final starring vehicle for the masterful comedic talents of the incomparable, Arthur Lowe - A.J. Wentworth, BA was produced and directed by Michael Mills for Thames Television and recorded just a few short weeks prior to Lowe's untimely death on the 15th April 1982, and first transmitted several months later.
Skilfully adapted by Basil Boothroyed from the series of stories written by H.F. Ellis, which first appeared in the magazine Punch, before they were compiled into two books; The Papers of A J Wentworth, BA -in 1949, and The Papers of A J Wentworth, BA (Ret'd) -in 1962. The series charted the gentle misadventures of one A.J.Wentworth BA, the mathematics master at Burgrove, a minor boys preparatory school in rural England during the 1940s. Although liked by the boys, Wentworth had problems maintaining discipline and was apt to be taken advantage of. Coupled to this was his amusingly portrayed minor obsession with the up-keep of the school's honour and the ever higher cost of pen nibs, while simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on the dubious tactics of his nemesis, Burgrove's formidable Matron (Marion Mathie).
With distinguished supporting playing from Harry Andrews as Rev. R Gregory Saunders, Michael Bevis as Gilbert and Deddie Davies as Miss Coombes, the series ably showcased it's star's faultless comedic timing and ability to evoke sympathy and audience identification in a character who, in less assured hands, might have appeared blimpish and unlikable. Although not in the same league as Lowe's legendary Captain Mainwaring, the combination of good writing, strong performances and a star who was a genuine master of his craft ensured that the mere six episodes of the series were pleasing enough to viewers that the show remained in the top ten for the entirety of its all too brief run.
Although it was far from the triumphant stature of Dad's Army, A.J. Wentworth BA, nevertheless was a quality bow-out for its much-missed star.
Published on November 26th, 2018. SRH.