TV Cream

TV: N is for...

Nearest and Dearest

The most frightening publicity still ever produced from Quay Street Jimmy and Hylda get upstaged by a bit of cardboard

GRANADA’S BIGGEST-SELLING situation comedy. Eli Pledge (JIMMY JEWELL) and Nellie Pledge (HYLDA BAKER) are feuding siblings who have inherited a pickle factory and a workforce which appears to have escaped from a genetic experiment: all old, bent, shortsighted, deformed, scruffy and looking like pre-1914 factory fodder. Nellie was all malapropisms, methodist propiety and teetotal. Eli was all beer, fags, gambling and improbably copping off with girls a quarter of his age. Lancashire setting milked for all it was worth, with the house they lived in looked, to the teak-veneer-contiboard-and-G-Plan 1970s, old and Victorian and dark and damp and smelly. Nellie’s catchphrases: “big girl’s blouse”, “Defective Inspector”, “he knows, you know” “it’s quarter-past – oh I must get a little hand put on this watch” and the eternal “Have you been, Walter?” (to doddering octogenarian husband of Madge Hindle, aka Alf Roberts’ wife-before-last in Corrie). Eli’s catchphrase was “You knock-kneed knackered old nosebag”.



  1. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Jimmy Jewel revived the “knock kneed knackered old nosebag” line when he guested in an episode of Casualty. I hate myself for knowing that.

  2. Glenn Aylett

    September 26, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Jimmy Jewell was one of those performers who was near the end of his career, but still had some mileage left in him and this was quite a good sitcom and was part of a wave of ITV sitcoms at the start of the seventies that were, for a change, amusing and very popular. Nearest and Dearest, On The Buses, Please Sir and For The Love Of Ada were big hits for the light channel and it seemed the BBC wasn’t the natural home of the sitcom for some years. Then later in the decade, ITV, apart from George and Mildred and Rising Damp, lost its way with comedy.

  3. Richardpd

    September 26, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    ITV has always had an odd relationship with sitcoms, which a much lower hit rate than the BBC for all time classics, but at times have been able to produce a quite a few decent mid range ones amoung the

  4. Sidney Balmoral James

    September 27, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Have a soft spot for this ramshackle rubbish – Jimmy Jewell – not as old as he looked – was so crumpled he made Sid James look like Keanu Reeves, and Hylda Baker was always very funny, although there was always that vague sense she had only read the script once. They loathed each other in real life, not surprisingly. In appearance, probably about the shabbiest, flea-bitten programme ever produced by independent television, which is saying something.

  5. JakeyD

    September 30, 2021 at 12:50 am

    ITV have had some dire sitcoms over the decades but this one wasn’t too bad maybe because the bickering was probably real as the two stars hated each other in real life.

  6. Glenn Aylett

    October 1, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    @ Jakey D, neither were very easy to work with, Jewel could be quite withdrawn and had a serious temper if provoked, but Hilda Baker was even worse, blowing her top if she wasn’t given top billing and once spitting in Jewel’s face. How this show lasted six series always beats me as the actors had to kept apart for their own safety.

    • George White

      October 2, 2021 at 7:18 am

      I’ve read that Baker went through so many Cynthias because apparently part of the contract was that they would have to have sex with her. She was somewhat predatory to younger men, allegedly.

  7. Droogie

    October 2, 2021 at 12:41 am

    Jimmy Jewel was quite a decent straight actor in his latter years. He originally played the teacher Eddie Waters in Trevor Griffith’s seminal play The Comedians, and gave a fine performance in One Foot In The Grave as a lonely blind pensioner..

  8. Sidney Balmoral James

    October 2, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    Can recommend Jean Fergusson’s biography of Hylda Baker (called, inevitably, ‘She Knows You Know!) although her temperament and her sad decline make it a rather depressing tale. Something of a double whammy that, a book by one stalwart of a TV Cream favourite, about another (Jean being Marina from Last of the Summer Wine).

    • Richardpd

      October 2, 2021 at 10:18 pm

      I was reading a bit about Hylda Baker earlier, she seemed to have a lot of bad luck later in life, being hit by a car which effected her walk & having her chauffeur run off with a lot of her money among other things.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    October 3, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    Hylda Baker also paired up with Arthur Mullard to have an unlikely hit with a cover of You’re The One That I Want, and both dressed up as the two main characters from Grease for their TOTP appearance.
    Mullard was another comedy actor whose biggest success came in his sixties after a reasonably successful career in comedy films. Romany Jones, with Mullard living in a caravan with Queenie Watts, was a big hit in 1973 and quite amusing and led to a spin off called Yus My Dear.

    • THX 1139

      October 3, 2021 at 10:42 pm

      It’s difficult to enjoy Mullard’s performances now, knowing his daughter accused him of child abuse and stories of him being a total git away from the cameras. The Grease cover slipped dramatically down the charts after the TOTP appearance, because it was excruciatingly awful. The dumbfounded, embarrassed audience are a sight to see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top