If You See God, Tell Him – tape 1611

On this tape, here’s a comedy serial by Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, writers of Whoops Apocalypse, Hot Metal and , individually, 2 Point 4 Children and Jonathan Creek.

Fun trivia fact: Douglas Adams based the character of Marvin the Paranoid Android on Andrew Marshall.

I have to admit, I remember the name of this series, but not much else. It’s got a great cast, though, leading with Richard Briers, Adrian Edmondson and Imelda Staunton, so let’s see how it goes.

There’s a little bit of a political message at the start, during a long pan across a queue in a Post Office.

John Major More Firghtening than Silence of the Lambs

Richard Briers plays Godfrey Spry, who is hit on the head by a wheelbarrow of bricks, and as a result cannot concentrate for longer than 30 seconds. So he therefore becomes influenced by adverts, and the programme has fun making a lot of fake adverts.

Richard Briers

He’s not the luckiest man in the world. Shortly after leaving hospital, he’s involved in a car accident test driving a car along a cliff edge at sunset. Then, on holiday in Hamburg, his wife is stoned to death by football hooligans.

He sells his house, and tries to buy a new one from Estate Agent Martin Clunes.

Martin Clunes

Angus Deayton’s bank manager won’t lend him any money.

Angus Deayton

When he moves into a luxury apartment built out of an old prison, his neighbour is city trader Gary Olsen.

Gary Olsen

But when the money runs out and he’s evicted, he has to move in with Nephew Gordon, played by Adrian Edmondson.

Adrian Edmondson

Edmondson and wife Muriel (Imelda Staunton) looked at an old people’s home, but with entertainment provided by Damaris Hayman, they decided against it.

Damaris Hayman

BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th November 1993 – 21:30

Before the next episode, there’s the end of the Nine O’Clock News, and Newsroom South East. There’s a trailer for Clive James Postcard from Cairo and one for a repeat of The Life and Loves of a She Devil.

Then, Episode Two. Things aren’t happy in the household, for Gordon and Muriel. Their mood isn’t helped when a team of workmen led by Paul Merton dig up the street outside their house.

Paul Merton and Imedla Staunton

But they hope that Godfrey’s romance with an old sweetheart will lead to him moving out. But because of his commercial obsession, she’s not interested. Godfrey tells Gordon and Muriel that he’s going to get married, but they don’t quite register when he tells them he hasn’t found anyone to marry yet, leading to yet more confusion.

Patrick Barlow appears as an insurance company loss adjuster.

Patrick Barlow

Neil Mullarkey appears as a waiter.

Neil Mullarkey

BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th November 1993 – 21:30

Before the next episode there’s an extra – a Labour Party Political Broadcast all about how Labour would close the tax loopholes that let huge corporations pay no tax. They could almost run the same broadcast today and it would still be relevant.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th November 1993 – 22:30

Then, episode 3 of If You See God, Tell Him. This was postponed from it’s originally scheduled broadcast for a week, meaning the genome link is actually wrong.

It’s november, and Godfrey is just finishing up his Christmas shopping. Mark Arden appears as a shop assistant.

Mark Arden

Bob Wellings, off of Nationwide, pops up as a newsreader.

Bob Wellings

BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th November 1993 – 21:35

Annoyingly, I’ve missed the start of the next episode, so it starts in a courtroom. In fact, it looks like it’s the very end, in which Godfrey is found guilty by reason of diminished responsibility of some crime or other, and sent to a hospital for the criminally insane. Where they take away his TV.

This is, without a doubt, the most depressing ‘comedy’ I’ve seen in a very long time. Far too few laughs too. Very disappointing from Marshall and Renwick.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd December 1993 – 21:40

Afterwards there’s a trailer for Sports Review of 1993.

Then this recording stops, and underneath there’s Question Time.

After this, there’s trailers for States of Terror, and Clive James Postcard from Cairo.

Then there’s an episode of Spenser for Hire.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th November 1993 – 23:15

Then there’s a trailer for Rain Man and a look at programmes for Friday. Look – they’re showing old Doctor Who.

Friday 19th November 1993 on BBC1

Then, after some weather, and a public information film about victims of crime, BBC1 closes down.


  1. I remember the first issue of SFX doing a recap of everything that had happened with Doctor Who since it had been axed, and it speculated that Alan Yentob was a fan because as he’d moved from BBC2 to BBC1, so had the repeats. Although a more prosaic reason was probably that there’d been a massive accounting cock-up at the Beeb in 1993, and BBC1’s budget was quite severely cut and they had even more repeats than usual, so they were scraping the barrel a bit. One of the episodes of Planet Of The Daleks, for it was that, was I think the last black and white programme ever shown on primetime BBC1.

    As for If You See God, Tell Him, it is a very, very odd series. I saw it at the time, was faintly bemused by it, then never saw it again, because it was never repeated, until BBC4 showed one episode a few years back, and you’re right to say it is incredibly bleak. I always think that if you have to compare it to anything it would be Black Mirror. Actually it’s probably even more daring than Black Mirror because it was on primetime BBC1 with that nice Richard Briers.

    I do know everyone was a bit disappointed with it. It was a script that Marshall and Renwick had written in the eighties and had been pitching for many years, and it was seemingly only because they were now hot writers it was being made. I know also they didn’t particularly think Richard Briers was right for the part but the Beeb were very keen to use him, and Briers himself didn’t think much of the script either.

    As you point out, the third episode was actually delayed a week because the James Bulger trial was coming to an end and there’s a squence with Godfrey in a shopping centre approaching unaccompanied children, which was considered inappopriate. That meant the final episode was actually broadcast the following week – http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbcone/london/1993-12-09 – after Crimewatch at 10.15, and nobody watched it. But it had already proven suffienciently controversial (I know the Beeb got loads of complaints about the series in general and a scene in show one where some kids play football with a dead duck in particular) for the Beeb to clearly just want to get it out of the way, because the ratings had been very poor as well.

    What a bizarre series it was.

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