Men Behaving Badly pretty much sums up the antics of Gary (Martin Clunes) and Dermot (Harry Enfield), a pair of 20 something lads who share a flat in South London and carry on like most overgrown adolescents; They are loud, they burp, they fart, they try it on with women (mainly unsuccessfully) and they love to drink beer. They are everything that men at the time were trying to move away from.
The series was written and created by Simon Nye and was first shown in 1992 on ITV. From the third series it was shown on the BBC. After the first season Dermot moves out to travel the world and Gary has to look for a new flatmate. He is found in the form of Tony (Neil Morrissey) who has a succession of different jobs during the series including owning his own record stall which collapses and falls down. He is always trying out new things and in one episode he rents out birthing pools for pregnant women, mainly to try and impress Deborah, the 'girl upstairs' who he falls head-over-heels in love with at first sight.
The Tony and Deborah saga is played out during the show's 6-year run during which they have a few near misses with each other, but never a success due to Tony's inability to act like an adult. Gary has a long term girlfriend, Dorothy (Caroline Quentin), a nurse who is forever giving Gary a telling off for his antics. She loves Gary but there is always the feeling that she could have done better for herself. During most of the episodes Gary and Tony get drunk, watch TV, go to the pub, try it on with Deborah and try to get back into Dorothy's good books. Out of the two men Gary is the one able to hold down a full-time job in an office where he sells burglar alarms. He works with George (Ian Lindsay) middle aged, bumbling but loyal and Anthea (Valerie Minifie) who is an introverted and old-fashioned spinster. Gary has a habit of being incredibly mean to both George and Anthea who still carry on liking him regardless.
Another of the main characters is Les (Dave Atkins), who is the landlord of their local pub The Crown. It is here that Gary and Tony spend most of their time discussing life, women and beer (when they aren't sat on the sofa at home doing that). In one episode they hear that the Crown will be closed down and they go off on a 'fact finding mission' (getting drunk in other pubs) to see which will be their new local. The Crown doesn't close down - it gets refurbished by its new landlord Ken (John Thompson) who takes over from Les from series five. Both landlords of The Crown were totally clueless when it comes to customer service and running a pub, with Ken being particularly terrible. In one episode he confesses to Gary and Tony that he had never managed a pub before and only got the job because his brother was sleeping with Mrs Swift, the personnel manager of the brewery.
The series unapologetically revelled in political incorrectness at a time when political correctness was increasingly common in the UK. The term PC was described as one commentator as "the most intolerant system of thought to dominate the British Isles since the Reformation." Critics Jon Lewis and Penny Stempel have stated the show "allowed male viewers to indulge in vicarious laddism, whilst allowing female viewers to ridicule the bad but lovable Tony and Gary".
From a shaky start Men Behaving Badly went on to be shown at a later time (on the BBC allowing them to indulge in "more colourful language and behaviour", which boosted its popularity significantly) and by 1996 it had picked up a succession of awards and was voted the best sitcom from the BBC's history during its sixtieth anniversary year celebrations. By the end of series six the 'will they, won't they' nature of Tony and Deborah's relationship is finally resolved and they get together, but it takes some time. Fans loved seeing the two of them finally united after so many years of waiting. During the Last Orders final episode Gary and Dorothy find out that they are pregnant and Tony and Deborah resolve their relationship issues and stay together. But that doesn't mean that any of them have stopped behaving badly!
Published on January 4th, 2019. Written by Joanne MacRae and Laurence Marcus (2014) for Television Heaven.