Not On Your Nellie

1974 | United Kingdom

Following on from her success in Nearest and Dearest, Hylda Baker was cast as reluctant landlady Nellie Pickersgill, the daughter of a London publican summoned down from Bolton to Fulham to run "The Brown Cow" on behalf of her father in his hour of need. 

The series was not a direct sequel to Nearest and Dearest, but it was not far removed, either...Born in Lancashire in 1908, Baker began her career in music hall and during the 1940's toured extensively as support to most of the big names around at that time. In the 1950's she branched out as a star in her own right playing most popularly alongside a silent and gormless character called Cynthia, a man in drag. An appearance in the popular BBCTV show The Good Old Days (on 11 March 1955) brought Baker to the attention of the British viewing public and that's when her career really took off. A number of TV series followed -the first of which was 1957's Be Soon (aka Hylda Baker Says Be Soon) in which she recreated her celebrated stage act with Guy Middleton as Cynthia. This series also made popular one of Baker's numerous catchphrases; "She knows, you know."

Be Soon concluded in 1959 and by 1961 Baker was back as a regular in another sitcom, the second series of Our House. In 1963 she teamed up with Charles Hawtrey for Best of Friends (the two had co-starred in Our House). But it was her teaming with Jimmy Jewel in 1968's Nearest and Dearest that fashioned her most celebrated role and enduring memory as the middle-aged spinster Nellie Pledge. 

As in Nearest and Dearest, Baker's character in Not On Your Nellie was based on the one that she had developed over the years, full of malapropisms, jerky double-takes, double entendre's and a smattering of catchphrases such as: "Look at the's half past..." stops and pauses: "I must get a little hand put on this watch!" Not On Your Nelly ran for three series although the producers must have realised that they'd got their full mileage out of the comic situations as the last series was only comprised of four episodes. 

Like most comedy series of the time Not On Your Nellie was full to the brim with stereotype characters such as an Asian tube train driver, two gay men from the fashion world and a series of busty barmaids such as Beryl (Alexandra Dane), Doris (Wendy Richard) and Big Brenda (Sue Nicholls). Carry On stalwart Jack Douglas appeared in series three as Nellie's cousin Stanley Pickersgill and in the final episode found time to appear in the dual role of Stan and a nervously twitchy character called Alf Ippititimus. 

Published on January 15th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus (February 2003) for Television Heaven.