Men Behaving Badly is a British sitcom that was created and written by Simon Nye. It follows the lives of Gary Strang (Martin Clunes) and his flatmates Dermot Povey (Harry Enfield; series 1 only) and Tony Smart (Neil Morrissey; series 2 onwards). It was first broadcast on ITV in 1992. A total of six series were made, along with a Christmas special and a trilogy of episodes that make up the feature length "last orders". In the last ever episode, Dorothy is pregnant with Gary's baby and gives birth in their flat.
The series was filmed in and around Ealing in west London and the final scene of series six was filmed at the Cerne Abbas giant. The setting, however, is implied to be south London and many references are made to Surrey.
It was produced by Hartswood Films, and Thames Television co-produced the first two series for ITV. They also assisted with production of the third series onwards that aired on the BBC, after Thames had lost their regional ITV franchise for London weekdays at the end of 1992 to Carlton Television.
Men Behaving Badly became highly successful after being moved to a post-watershed slot on BBC1. It has won the Comedy Awards' best ITV comedy, and the first National Television Award for Situation Comedy.
A BBC article suggests that Gary and Tony were "a reaction against the onset of the caring, sharing 'new man'. It appeared to revel in a politically incorrect world of booze, burps and boobs". Critics Jon Lewis and Penny Stempel have stated that the show "allowed male viewers to indulge in vicarious laddism, whilst allowing female viewers to ridicule the bad but lovable Tony and Gary". They further commented that "it was also a genuine sitcom in that the humour came from the characters and their context". Simon Nye remarked: "I don't do mad, plot-driven farragoes. You have to allow your characters time to talk."
The show has been repeated on BBC One, Dave, and Gold, and all six series are available on DVD.
Gary and Tony are two London-based beer-guzzling flatmates revelling in a second childhood, hours of TV, and mindless talks about women, the kind of behaviour that puts their relationships in jeopardy with Dorothy (Gary's girlfriend) and Deborah (an attractive blonde in the flat above).
Gary manages an office selling burglar alarms for a dead-end company. His staff of aging employees are the meek George and lifelong spinster Anthea, who regularly drive him to frustration with their old-fashioned views. Tony stumbles through a range of jobs including modelling, bar work, and miming, after his record stall collapsed (somewhat literally).
Dorothy is an intelligent and mature nurse. She and Gary frequently split up and are occasionally unfaithful (including one fateful night when Dorothy sleeps with Tony and thinks that she might be pregnant), but they always end up back together. Tony has many girlfriends but his true feelings are for Deborah, whom he initially just wants to have sex with, but quickly falls in love with. Deborah is often disappointed by Tony's juvenile behaviour, but can also see his good side. The two finally end up in a relationship in series 6.Gary Strang (Martin Clunes) – Gary is an unconventional hero who operates a security sales office with two old-fashioned middle-aged subordinates. He also owns the flat that he shares with Dermot, and later Tony. Gary is a man in his thirties, and enjoys talk of girls and indulges in lager and a perpetual childhood with best friend Tony. Gary frequently makes a fool of himself; foolishness that is quickly exploited by his girlfriend Dorothy. Despite his stereotypical masculinity, at heart, Gary is a sensitive soul and loves Dorothy. In earlier episodes he can be somewhat arrogant, but his behaviour becomes more 'laddish' after the introduction of Tony.
Dermot Povey (Harry Enfield, series one only) – Dermot is Gary's original flat mate featured only in series one. Like Tony, Dermot is forever failing to pay his rent at Gary's flat and is desperately in love with Deborah. Dermot both lies and cheats in an attempt to garner success with Deborah. However, like Tony, he constantly embarrasses himself.
Tony Smart (Neil Morrissey, series two onwards) – Tony is Gary's handsome womanising flatmate, who is forever in love and always obsessed with the 'blonde babe' upstairs, Deborah. Tony is more friendly than Gary and at times even more childish than he. Tony drifts from job to job and fails to pay his rent to Gary. Like his flat mate, Tony enjoys girls, lager, and an eternal childhood. Despite Gary's initial hesitations, Tony soon replaces Dermot in the role of Gary's best friend.
Tony and Dermot are similar in character, although Dermot is slightly more shy and neurotic. He is only mentioned twice after his departure, the first to explain that he simply is not coming home, having gone travelling with a croupier called Letitia, and the second in the first episode of series five, when Dorothy recalls him to which Gary replies, "Did I tell you he got a job at Euro-Disney testing the rides?"Deborah Burton (Leslie Ash) – Deborah is an attractive blonde woman who lives in the flat above Gary and Tony. Deborah works in a restaurant, and although partially attracted to Tony, his immaturity, devil-may-care attitude and other aspects of his character push her away just as they begin to get close. Deborah is frequently changing her mind about Tony, a character she both loves and hates simultaneously. The two finally begin a relationship in the first episode of series six.
Dorothy Martin/Bishop (Caroline Quentin) – Dorothy is Gary's outspoken girlfriend who is a nurse. She lives with her parents, due to the fact her mother threatens to "kill herself if she moves out". Dorothy loves Gary. However, his immaturity and other aspects of his character cause the pair to occasionally fall out. Dorothy is not always treated satisfactorily by Gary; being lied to and occasionally cheated on, she doesn't hesitate to get her revenge by humiliating Gary and cheating on him herself. In early episodes Dorothy does not particularly like Deborah (referring to her disparagingly as 'Miss Wet-dream' in a series two episode); however, over the years the pair bond over their mutual disillusionment at Gary and Tony's behaviour, and eventually decide to share a flat. Though Dorothy's surname is not mentioned in dialogue, in early episodes of the series Dorothy's name-badge shows it to be 'Martin'. This is changed to 'Bishop' in later series.
George (Ian Lindsay) – an average, middle-aged, cardigan-wearing office worker. Both he and Anthea are patient ears for Gary to confide in, and Gary treats them with thinly-veiled disrespect. George leads a very unambitious life. His wife Marjorie (who is never seen) is involved in amateur dramatics, in productions of Dr Zhivago and so on. George is also a fan of the 1960s folk group The Seekers.
Anthea (Valerie Minifie) – an insecure spinster secretary, who, like George, is very old fashioned. She admits that her job is the closest thing she has to having a family, and her life away from work is very miserable. Gary is known to take out his anger on Anthea, one of his more common punishments being to lock her in the office cupboard.
Les (Dave Atkins) – The 'dribbly' landlord of The Crown, the pub that the main characters frequent. Les is known for his uncouth manner and his service of offering locals a goodbye gherkin. He admits his name is actually "Des", and "Les" is his older brother, but as a child he wanted everything that was his brother's, including his name.
Ken (John Thomson) – Replaces Les as the landlord of The Crown from series 5 onwards. Ken has never managed a pub before, and so is clueless with regards to pub terminology and common practice. He got the position because his brother is 'sleeping with' the brewery's personnel manager, Mrs Swift.
Other characters include Clive – a friend of Gary's who never fully appears on screen. Writer Simon Nye played the minor role of Clive in series 6, wearing a bright green suit, however his face was never fully visible and his voice was provided by another actor. Also, Neville appears in series 2 with Tony, running the stall adjacent to his.
The show is based on Simon Nye's 1989 book of the same title. TV producer Beryl Vertue came across the novel and tracked down Nye, believing it was suited for television adaptation. Harry Enfield was then cast first, and persuaded Martin Clunes that he should join the show.
The first series features Martin Clunes as Gary Strang, and Harry Enfield as his flatmate, Dermot Povey, but Enfield felt out of place in the sitcom and decided to quit. It has also been reported that Enfield has claimed he felt uncomfortable in the programme, and left stating that a "proper actor" would do the job far better. Simon Nye has stated that ITV picked up the series partly because Enfield had agreed to star in it, and his departure influenced ITV's decision to cancel the show after just two series, when audience figures were poor. It has been claimed that this was owing to ITV giving it a poor slot in the schedules, forcing the 'bad behaviour' to be toned down.
In 1994, the show went to the BBC, who aired a further four series. The shift to a new station and a later time-slot meant, as the BBC have stated, the show could indulge in "more colourful language and behaviour" although all f-words were bleeped as was common practice on the BBC at the time. The show became highly successful on BBC1, winning numerous awards for the show, its writer, and its stars.
The first series featuring Enfield has never been repeated on the BBC, although the second ITV series has been shown.
The show aired for six series and forty two episodes, including a Christmas special titled 'Jingle Balls', which was broadcast over Christmas 1997. A final short run of three 45-minute episodes was made in 1998 to conclude the series. These were broadcast over Christmas, like the three episodes of Only Fools and Horses two years earlier.
Series one was the only series to feature Dermot, played by Harry Enfield, and the only series not to feature Neil Morrissey as Tony. The episodes of the first two series are about 24 minutes long because they were shown on ITV and time was needed for advertisements. When the show began on the BBC, the episodes were about four minutes longer.
In 2002 it was revealed that Simon Nye and the cast had agreed to revive the series for three further specials the following year, which came about as a result of producer Beryl Vertue looking at the idea of seeing how Gary and Dorothy were coping with parenthood. However, the idea was shelved the following year after Caroline Quentin became pregnant. In October 2014, Clunes and Morrissey returned to the characters of Gary and Tony for the first time since 1998 in a sketch for Channel 4's "The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night" and Stand Up to Cancer telethon.
On 1 January 1989, A novel written by Simon Nye had been released in hardback format and later released again in paperback on 6 February 1992. A companion guide to the show "The A-Z of Behaving Badly" was released on 1 November 1995. The book features many handy tips from Gary (Martin Clunes) and Tony (Neil Morrissey) and was written by Simon Nye once again. On 27 July 2000, Two audio compilations were released featuring 8 classic shows from series 3-4. The shows that featured were "Lovers", "Bed", "Casualties", "Cleaning Lady", "Babies", "Infidelity", "Pornography", and "Three Girlfriends". These 2 audio boxes were later released together in a cardboard container.
A script book entitled - "The Best of "Men Behaving Badly" was released on 5 October 2000. The book contains 25 of the 42 scripts published in one volume, along with some new material, black and white pictures and introductions by Simon Nye (the writer of the show). The episodes contained in the book are: "Intruders", "Gary and Tony", "How to Dump Your Girlfriend", "Lovers", "Cleaning Lady", "Marriage", "Babies", "Infidelity", "Pornography", "Drunk", "In Bed with Dorothy", "Playing Away", "The Good Pub Guide", "Cowardice", "Your Mate v Your Bird", "Cardigan", "Home-Made Sauna", "Stag Night", "Wedding", "Watching TV", "Ten", "Sofa", "Performance", "Gary in Love",and "Delivery". Although the rest of series 1-3 are not included, the remaining four shows from series 4-6 and the 1997 Christmas special are also missing. There has been no second volume to accompany them since.
All six series are available on region 2 DVD separately, and a complete collection featuring all six series is also available. The 1997 Christmas special and final trilogy are also available on DVD.
Owing to licensing difficulties, the music at the beginning of episode one 'Hair' and the rave in episode five 'Cardigan' had to be changed for the Series 5 DVD.
The series was remade for American television, broadcast on NBC 1996–1997, starred Rob Schneider, Ken Marino, Ron Eldard and Justine Bateman, and took place in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a result, the original series was eventually screened in the US on BBC America as British Men Behaving Badly. In Australia, where the British version was screened under its original title on the ABC, the US series was broadcast as It's a Man's World on the Seven Network.