Down the 'Gate tv series

Down the 'Gate

1975 - United Kingdom

Having collected his last passengers and dropped them off at the cemetery gates, Reg Varney parked his bus for the last time in 1973. On the Buses had made Varney even more of a household name than his previously successful stint at Fenner's fashions in The Rag Trade.

Down the 'Gate

With two huge hits behind him and a couple of popular sketch shows, it was quite straight forward for Varney to approach ATV with a sitcom idea of his own. Down the 'Gate was set among the bustle of London's Billingsgate fish market, which was also renowned for its colourful characters and cockney banter. Varney played Reg Furnell, a porter for the long-established fishmongers Preston & Davies, and the series followed his misadventures among the barrows, merchants and white-smocked porters with their fish boxes perched precariously on their heads. He was accompanied by his workmates Old Wol (Reg Lye) and Len (Tony Melody), who regularly laugh, disagree or just needle each other about anything and everything. Reg was married to Irene (Dilys Laye).

Down the 'Gate

The writers for the series were Roy Tuvey and Maurice Sellar who, together, had previous sitcom experience having written Harry Worth's series Thirty Minutes Worth, Frankie Howerd's Whoops Baghdad!, and sketches for The Two Ronnies and Reg Varney's self-titled second sketch show series. However, and despite ITV giving the series a primetime midweek slot, the series was met with a lukewarm reception. Nevertheless, ATV decided to stick with it for a second series but with no improvement in sight it was to be the last. It was also Varney's last sitcom.

Down the 'Gate

Although only two series were made, both were dumped by ATV and didn't exist in the archives until Varney himself produced all six episodes of the second series, which he had taped off-air on his own home video recorder. The sitcom is typical mid 70s fare, with predictable corny/sexist jokes, the conflict with authority figures (in this case Reg's boss Mr Preston - played by Percy Herbert) and the obligatory mini-skirted big-boobed lass. It wasn't a million miles away from On the Buses, but it lacked the characters it required to make it a fan favourite. Coming off a successful run, Reg Varney may have thought the world was his oyster, but sadly Down the 'Gate didn't produce any pearls.

Published on July 24th, 2021. Written by Malcolm Alexander for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

On the Buses film

Although it was one of Britain's most enduring sitcoms, no one expected the movie version of 'On the Buses' to make much of an impact at the box office. Up against the latest James Bond film and the much anticipated return of Sean Connery - it didn't stand a chance...

Also starring Reg Varney

Drama based at the fictitious St Angela's Hospital in London. 'Angels' was dubbed the 'Z-Cars' of nursing by some critics due to its authentic semi-documentary approach.

Also released in 1975

The Rag Trade

Staff turn militant in an East End sweatshop.

Also starring Reg Varney

The Good Life

The mere mention of this series name is likely to bring a very large smile to the faces of British sitcom fans, for The Good Life is one of the few series that is considered a true classic.

Also released in 1975

The Changes

An excellent drama from a golden age of children's television, The Changes was described as one of the most ambitious series produced by the BBC Children's Drama Department.

Also released in 1975

Barney Miller

American sitcom set in a New York City Police Department police station on East 6th St in Greenwich Village.

Also released in 1975

My Son Rueben

A middle-aged man, still living at home with his mother, is completely under her thumb.

Also released in 1975

Dad's Army

"If the quality of the writing was a major factor in Dad's Army's resounding success, then that quality was more than matched by a cast which not so much interpreted the writing, as physically embodied it."

Also tagged British Sitcom

George and the Dragon

Classic sitcom starring Sid James as an over-amorous handyman who wants his boss to employ a 'dolly-bird' housekeeper, but ends up with a 'dragon' (Peggy Mount).

Also tagged British Sitcom