List of Joking Apart episodes

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Writer Steven Moffat, and actors Fiona Gillies and Robert Bathurst recording the DVD audio commentary for the first series in January 2006

Joking Apart is a BBC Television sitcom. The show was produced by Andre Ptaszynski for the independent production company Pola Jones and screened on BBC Two. All twelve episodes from the two series were written by Steven Moffat and directed by Bob Spiers. The pilot was transmitted as part of its Comic Asides series of pilot shows on 12 July 1991. The first episode of the series was transmitted on 7 January 1993, and the final transmitted on 7 February 1995.[1]

The show is about the rise and fall of a relationship, juxtaposing a couple, Mark (Robert Bathurst) and Becky (Fiona Gillies), who meet and fall in love before getting separated and finally divorced. The show is semi-autobiographical; it was inspired by the then-recent separation of Moffat and his first wife.[2][3] Some of the first series followed a non-linear dual structure, contrasting the rise of the relationship with the separation. Other episodes were ensemble farces, predominantly including the couple's friends Robert (Paul Raffield) and Tracy (Tracie Bennett). Paul Mark Elliott also appeared as Trevor, Becky's lover.

Scheduling problems led to low viewing figures. However, it scored highly on the Appreciation Index and accrued a loyal fanbase. One fan acquired the home video rights from the BBC and released both series on his own DVD label.[4]


All episodes were released on DVD in the UK between 2006 and 2008 by Replay DVD. A fan bought the rights from 2Entertain, BBC Worldwide's DVD interest, and released it on his own independent label.[3] Craig Robins put up £30,000 of his own money to buy the rights and produced the series one disc.[5] As a professional videotape editor, Robins was able to restore and author the disc himself, using a piece of freeware to transcribe the dialogue for the subtitles.[3]

Series Episodes Originally aired DVD release
Release date Discs Extra features
1 6 1993 29 May 2006 1
  • Audio commentaries on episodes 1, 3, 4 and 5 by Steven Moffat, Robert Bathurst, Fiona Gillies and Tracie Bennett
  • Featurette, "Fool If You Think It's Over", with retrospective interviews.
2 6 1995 17 March 2008 2
  • Audio commentaries on all episodes with various contributors.
  • Pilot
  • DVD-ROM content: set of series two scripts and article about the recording of the final episode
  • 8-page booklet


The pilot, directed by John Kilby, was filmed at Pebble Mill in Birmingham on 9–10 August 1990.[1] It was transmitted on BBC2 as part of its Comic Asides series of pilot shows on 12 July 1991.[1] It is included on the bonus disc on the second series DVD release.

The stand-up sequences were shot against a black background. Although this made it clearer that they were not "real", Moffat thought that it looked odd, and "hell to look at".[6] The same script used for the pilot, with minor changes, was reshot by Bob Spiers for the first episode of the series proper. Some footage, such as Mark and Becky's first meeting at the funeral, leading to episode one's shared director credit between Spiers and Kilby.[7]

Series 1

The first series has been broadcast twice on BBC Two, first in early 1993. It was repeated in late spring 1994 to lead directly into the transmission of the second series, which was scheduled to be broadcast from June 1994.

Episode number Original airdate[1] Repeat[1] #
1 7 January 1993 5 May 1994 1
Sitcom writer Mark Taylor accidentally attends a funeral, where he meets Becky. The narrative jumps forward in time to their marriage, in which they have a healthy sexual relationship. However, Becky becomes annoyed at his constant jokes, his sarcasm towards her friends, and how he fails to recognise that their relationship is deteriorating. As she arrives home, unaware that her friends are hiding around the house for a surprise birthday party, Becky announces to Mark that she wants a divorce.
2 14 January 1993 12 May 1994 2
Robert and Tracy return to the flat to check on Mark following his wife's departure. The three recall the circumstances in which they had first met. A flashback shows Becky and Mark's first date. To surprise his date, Mark strips down to his boxer shorts and handcuffs himself to the bedpost. Robert and Tracy call at the house unexpectedly, but Mark is unable to free himself before they enter the bedroom.
Moffat used a similar scenario for the Coupling episode "The Freckle, the Key, and the Couple who Weren't"[8] and reveals in its audio commentary that it is based on a situation with one of his ex-girlfriends.[9]
3 21 January 1993 19 May 1994 3
Mark arrives at Robert and Tracy's house on the wrong night for a dinner party. The couple happen to be entertaining that night, but are instead expecting Becky and her new boyfriend Trevor. They spend the evening trying to keep Mark and Trevor apart, each not knowing that the other is also there. Hopeful of reconciliation, Mark assumes that his friends are trying to smooth things over between Becky and himself.
4 28 January 1993 26 May 1994 4
Mark's friends advise him to sleep with a blonde to console himself after Becky had rejected his marriage proposals and left him. He does, but his date discusses their night as he is leaving a message on Becky's answering machine. Desperate to prevent Becky from hearing the message, he goes to her flat to change the tape.
5 5 February 1993 2 June 1994 5
After Mark attempts to return Robert's "portable telephone", he sleeps with Tracy. He hides in the bedroom and the en suite bathroom as Becky and Robert arrive at the house. After speaking to each other on the phone from adjacent rooms, Robert eventually realises what has happened and threatens to shoot Mark. The episode concludes with Robert and Tracy's, and Becky and Trevor's relationships in jeopardy.
This episode makes extensive use of what Moffat labels "techno-farce", which uses technology, predominantly telephones, to facilitate the farcical situations.[10] Moffat considers this episode the best of the show.[10] Discussing the series as a whole, he feels that the story ends after this episode.[11]
6 11 February 1993 9 June 1994 6
Mark takes a drunken woman back to his flat. The series ends with Becky and Trevor, and Robert and Tracy reconciling their relationships, and Mark being left alone.

Series 2

The format was changed for this series, with the dual timelines and much of the flashbacks dropped for a more linear narrative.[12] Moffat felt that the relationship had already been sufficiently established in the first series so there was little point going back to the start.[13]

Robert and Tracy are given more stories than in the first series.[12] Their main story arc begins in the third episode when Robert is caught by all of the main characters and his parents in a maid's outfit being spanked by a prostitute.[14] The couple temporarily separate while Robert experiments with cross-dressing, but they are reunited by the end of the series.

Episode number Original airdate[1] #
1 3 January 1995 7
Set six months after the end of series one, Mark meets Becky in a newsagents, where he is purchasing pornographic magazines. He discovers the location of Becky and Trevor's house and breaks in using Tracy's keys. However, he is forced to hide under the bed when Becky and Trevor return home. Listening to them having sex, he becomes optimistic when he thinks that Becky begins to shout his name ("M..."). The name turns out to be "Michael" (Tony Gardner), Becky's solicitor with whom she is now cheating on Trevor.
2 10 January 1995 8
Concerned that Becky is now cheating on him, Trevor visits Mark. Mark's psychiatrist (John Fortune), Robert and Tracy become convinced that Mark has enacted his fantasies of killing Trevor.
3 17 January 1995 9
Becky and Mark meet in a pub to discuss their separation. They encounter Robert, who Mark sees buying condoms from the toilets. As their friend seems to be acting strange, Becky and Mark follow him, discovering that he has been visiting a prostitute (Diane Langton).
4 24 January 1995 10
After locking himself out of his flat and trapping his bath towel in his door, Mark is forced to hide naked in his new neighbour's (Nina Young) flat.[15][16] In preparation for his aunt's (Barbara Keogh) arrival from Australia, Mark convinces Becky to pretend that they had not separated. Concussed after being punched by his neighbour's brother, Mark awakes he is confronted by a man (Kerry Shale) in a red polo neck jumper who claims to be "his very best friend".
5 31 January 1995 11
Following directly from the previous episode, it transpires that the man, who identifies himself as Dick, is the personification of Mark's penis. Worried about Mark after being hit, Becky had stayed at his flat. Dick attempts to convince Mark to take advantage of her presence, despite the various notes she has left around the flat declaring her wishes that she wants a platonic relationship.
6 7 February 1995 12
The final episode begins after Becky and Michael had slept together while house sitting for Tracy and Robert, and Michael hides in the bathroom when the latter couple returns. Tracy phones a morning television phone-in show (hosted by Michael Thomas and Helen Atkinson-Wood, with appearances by Rachael Fielding and Jonathan Barlow), and when she realises that the show's divorce expert is hiding in her bathroom she takes on his role (with a heavy Northern accent) to give herself advice on the other line.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gallagher, William. "Joking Apart", Inlay booklet, Series 2 DVD, ReplayDVD.
  2. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (2003-09-07). "Selling Your Sex Life". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  3. ^ a b c Kibble-White, Graham (May 2006). "Fool If You Think It's Over". Off the Telly. Retrieved 2006-08-13.
  4. ^ Jarvis, Shane (2006-05-08). "Farce that rose from the grave". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-08-13.
  5. ^ Steven Moffat (3 July 2006). "Interview with Steven Moffat". Front Row (Interview). Interviewed by Mark Lawson. London: BBC Radio 4.
  6. ^ Fool if You Think It's Over, featurette, Joking Apart, Series 1 DVD, Dir. Craig Robins
  7. ^ "Comparing the Pilot and Episode One". Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  8. ^ wr. Steven Moffat, dir. Martin Dennis (2002-10-21). "The Freckle, the Key, and the Couple who Weren't". Coupling. Season 3. Episode 5. BBC Two.
  9. ^ Moffat, Steven; Davenport, Jack, "The Freckle, the Key, and the Couple who Weren't" Coupling Series 3, DVD audio commentary.
  10. ^ a b Moffat, Steven, Joking Apart Series 1, Episode 5, DVD audio commentary
  11. ^ Moffat, Steven, Joking Apart, Series 2, Episode 6 DVD audio commentary
  12. ^ a b Packer, Charles. "Joking Apart: The Complete Second Series". Sci-fi Online. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  13. ^ "In Conversation: Steven Moffat, Part 3". Retrieved 2007-04-03.
  14. ^ wr. Steven Moffat, dir. Bob Spiers (1995-01-17). "Series 2, Episode 3". Joking Apart. Season 2. Episode 3. BBC 2.
  15. ^ Keal, Graham (2005-01-30). "New role suits Cold Feet star". The Sunday Sun. Archived from the original on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  16. ^ Moffat, Steven; Bathurst, Robert, Joking Apart, Series 2 Episode 4, DVD audio commentary

External links

  • Joking Apart Unofficial Site, with episode guides and extended interviews with Moffat and Bathurst
  • Joking Apart on IMDb

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