Rentaghost

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1976 to 1984 on BBC1

Mumford (right) and puns McWitch and Popov Dobbin and the Meakers

DALLAS FOR primary schools, in that it ran and ran and ran, everybody ended up bored with it, nobody could remember why it had started in the first place, and the whole thing was never less than stupendously preposterous. Original premise involved ghosts back from the spirit world to make amends for failures in their previous lives, and boasted the likes of Victorian dandy Hubert Davenport (MICHAEL DARBYSHIRE) and modern day doesn’t-want-parents-to-find-out-he’s-a-ghost-dilemma Fred Mumford (ANTHONY JACKSON). Presence, however, of bearded tri-corner-hatted gurning minstrel Timothy Claypole (MICHAEL STANIFORTH) hinted at the decline soon to come. Sure enough, as year followed year, all decent storytelling vanished in the onset of joyless japery, courtesy of dopey neighbours Rose and Arthur Perkins, the most unconvincing pantomime horse in the world, MOLLY WEIR (as a Scottish witch), CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS (as himself as camp furniture dealer Adam Painting) and Audrey from Coronation Street (as a Dutch hay-fever sufferer). Eventually “sneezed” off for good when Michael Grade said ’tis done.

TV CREAM SAYS: FREAKS AND FOOLS, THE LOT OF 'EM

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16 Responses to “Rentaghost”

  1. Mr Meaker says:

    You know what would brighten up the American sci-fi series Heroes? If they gave the teleporting Hiro the same sound effects that Mr Claypole had in Rentaghost.

  2. “Me thinks that, that Mr Sylar is a nasty man… But my master Mr Petrelli says be careful”

    (Mr Claypole noise)

  3. Palitoy says:

    Post ‘Rentaghost’ cultural ripples:

    1. Peter Jackson made the big screen version (of sorts) with ‘The Frighteners’ (okay, not really)
    2. Joe Pasquale thinks he bought the rights (there’s some long drawn out story over BBC Worldwide saying that he didn’t really – “phew”worthy or not?)
    3. The non-Mumford panto-years were repeated on any mid-1990s BBC Sat-morning show you care to name (Though maybe not on sci-fi ‘Number 73′ variant Paralell 9)
    4. Louis Spence MUST play Timothy Claypole/Michael Staniforth in (a) a ‘Rentaghost’ “reimagining” and/or (b) a BBC4 tragi-comic biopic.

  4. Andy Elms says:

    I can remember it being repeated on “The 8:15 from Manchester”, and the first series (CBBC channel only) of Da Bungalow.

    Coming along late when it was on originally, I only remember the McWitch / Mrs Popov years. But it has given me a paranoia about going into cellars.

  5. heather says:

    Claypole was the first fictional character I genuinely wanted to murder.

  6. Paul Norton says:

    Ugh! Just goes to show that not everything in the glory-years was good. I think I managed half an episode and then went outside and played in the mud.

  7. To be classed alongside “we watched it because it was on” and “we are nostalgic about it because we watched it with juice and a biscuit.” Even at the time, however, we were well aware it was not “any good.”

  8. Richard16378 says:

    A bit hit & miss if I remember, wobbling between quite funny & jut too silly to watch.

  9. Martin M says:


    heather:

    Claypole was the first fictional character I genuinely wanted to murder.

    I concur, when he wasn’t terrifying he was really annoying

  10. Ste says:

    I recall seeing Biggins in an episode where he’s at a roller disco and innocently thinking “he looks like a right poof doing that”.

  11. So much hate for this, but when I caught a few minutes of one of the repeats a while ago, I did start laughing at it. Then I felt embarrassed and turned it off – mine wasn’t the consensus reaction we’d agreed upon!

  12. RobskiT says:

    Claypole actor carked it from an aids realted illness… No mention of any visits to Africa though…

  13. Palitoy says:

    Ashamed to relate that I only just realised ‘The Young Ones’ dropped a ‘Rentaghost’ reference into the episode ‘Bambi’. They ‘Popov Jump’ to the launderette from their digs with an exact ‘Renta’ sound effect.

  14. Richard16378 says:

    I sort of spotted that, I remember hearing the same sound effect a few years ago in a schools show, along with the teleport sound from Blakes 7.

  15. Glenn A says:

    Not bad, but it went on about three series longer than it should have. However, it is still a cult item for anyone over 40.

  16. palimpsest says:

    Despite the forced pantomime routines I persisted with it just for the main theme. An apparition quipped from deep inside a crypt.

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