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Never the Twain

UP IN the first 11 of ITV’s all-time ITV-esque sitcoms. For which read: 1) two studio sets 2) two squabbling protagonists 3) interfering relatives 4) one-upmanship 5) it ran for bloody ages 6) every episode had the same plot and 7) it had a fantastic parping theme tune. WINDSOR DAVIES (Oliver Smallbridge) and DONALD SINDEN (Simon Peel) were your maestros of mithering, jousting for business as next-door neighbour antique salesman and raging lotharios. Both are divorced/widowed; both have one offspring who, inevitably (in the very first episode!) fall in love and want to get married. But east is east and west is west and there are 67 episodes to be eeked out of the same premise, hence the roaring, blasted red faces and all round mayhem – with priceless heirlooms thrown in for good measure – had to go on. And probably would have gone on forever had Thames not lost its licence. Oh, and HONOR BLACKMAN was the posh bit of stuff both our heroes oogled when not oogling Queen Anne’s drawers.



  1. Glenn Aylett

    July 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    It is easy to get cynical about ITV sitcoms, but this was one of their better efforts and pulled in 14 million viewers at its peak. There was the hilarious episode that sticks in the memory where they try to con their way into Twickenham with some cheap tickets they have bought only to find they were for the previous year’s match.

  2. fl3m

    July 20, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    I recall nothing about this show other than the title sequence with Sinden portrayed as a bust, and Davies as a toby jug. That was probably about the time we turned over.

    Is this the right place to post trivia? Windsor Davies taught PE at my dad’s old school.

  3. Chris Hughes

    July 21, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Don’t worry, fl3m, that was the best bit!

    Good shout on Windsor, btw. I bet he was a right tyrant (checks to see if Windsor is still alive). Er, I bet he was really nice.

  4. Bob V

    September 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    A mate of mine is a black cab driver in the South West London area. He had Windsor in the back of his cab once. As of a few years ago the Windsormeister was living in the Sutton area of South London.

  5. Matthew Rudd

    September 3, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    “Ollie Pont Vark!”

  6. Ste

    February 4, 2010 at 7:07 am

    You missed out Ringo.

  7. Adrian

    February 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Didn’t Joanna Lumley turn up in it from time to time?

  8. Adrian

    February 4, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Actually Donald Sinden was an accomplished film actor in his younger years, he featured in the film version of the book “The Cruel Sea”.

  9. televisualcabbage

    February 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    The Twain Boys had a rerun a couple of years ago thanks to ITV3 during the afternoons, though I can’t imagine Windsor teaching PE, no disrespect to fl3m but I would just imagine hime starting a bonfire just to annoy Simon Peel whilst having high tea,,,

  10. fl3m

    February 4, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    It might not have been PE, my dad said it ages and ages ago and I really ought to ring him and check to be on the safe side.

    According to The Internet he was a maths teacher in Leek (which, before you ask, isn’t in Wales).

  11. David Pascoe

    February 4, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    From the days when you could actually be bothered to watch ITV at 7pm on a weekday night.
    Good knockabout fun as I remember with a cracking theme tune. But I get the feeling that if I were to re-watch it now, it would piss all over my childhood memories.

    • Paul

      December 2, 2019 at 11:29 pm

      The theme tune is still ace. I have it bouncing around between my ears as I type this. Dubbadub. Dubbadubbadubbadub. Dubbadubbadubadub. Dubbadub. Dubbadub etc

  12. legrandpierre

    February 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    You forgot Banksie as well as Ringo.

  13. Glenn A

    February 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    In the days when ITV showed something other than Emmerdale at 7pm. Never the Twain always made me laugh as it was a classic tale about that British obsession with class and status. I don’t know how well it will have aged as it was largely studio bound and this could make it look very dated.

  14. James

    October 13, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Watching it now on dvd. Used to love this as a kid. How lighthearted tv was back then, and how well dressed everyone appeared to be; all sports jackets and ties, compared to the Nike wearing generation of today

  15. Dave in Dover

    May 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I used to amuse pals at school and later college with a Donald Sinden Impersonation… don’t know they’re born today…..iPod!!!! we had to make our entertainment back then.
    Windsor was great as the Toby Jug

  16. IanW1968

    February 8, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I thought it was quite good but then I was only about 13 or so and also liked Me and My Girl. The only episode I vaguely recall was where they’re playing cricket. MMMrrgggghhh Smalllllbriddgge!!

  17. Glenn A

    February 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    A classic one is where Peel and Smallbridge decide to take up judo and make a total hash of it, Peel taking it too seriously and Smallbridge putting on a black belt by mistake and being thrown around mericilessly.

  18. john

    January 22, 2016 at 7:52 am

    The sight of these two old men in a shell suits in one lamentable episode is still the most horrific sight my poor blighted eyes have ever seen..i cannot and will not forgive whoever thought it was a good idea.

    • richardpd

      November 13, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      I think the episode John is referring to was referring to was on Forces TV recently, where they try camping outside a TV shop before a sale trying to use a one-off deal for a satellite system.

      Windsor Davies was on usual Sgt Maj Williams / Zero form, but Donald Sinden seemed to think he was performing in a regional theatre’s Shakespeare production.

  19. JMB

    November 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Derek Deadman. Made a career out of playing dim-witted but amiable stooge types

  20. Droogie

    August 23, 2023 at 12:18 am

    My abiding memory of this show was a horrible attempt at a topical gag. Windsor Davies pays his hapless lackey Ringo to spy on Sinden in the hope of uncovering criminal activity., Davies asks Ringo to check if Sinden has a Police record. Ringo replies he hopes so as he loves Sting .( exit Ringo singing De Do Do Do .) The crapness of this pun matches one of the worst Police singles being referenced.

  21. Richardpd

    August 23, 2023 at 10:32 pm

    I’ve been fairly fond of that song, certainly it’s better than their later ones when Sting was beginning to put more effort into his solo career & wasn’t working so well with the other 2.

    Later on in the series Oliver & Simon were both Grandads to the same boy, which did little to calm things between them!

  22. Adrian

    August 24, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    I recall an episode where they both signed up to a dating agency, but sent in 40 year old photos of themselves. Much hilarity ensued..

  23. Glenn Aylett

    August 24, 2023 at 8:35 pm

    ITV could often be a comedy desert in the eighties, but Never The Twain was one of their best sitcoms. Also it featured the actor who played the binman Chalky in Coronation St.

    • Richardpd

      August 24, 2023 at 10:25 pm

      Sitcoms have always been an awkward genre for ITV, at least in the 1980s Shelley, one of their better efforts was in regular production so it wasn’t all bad.

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