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You Rang M’Lord aired for the first time on the 29th December 1988 and of all the Croft and Perry productions Jeff appeared in, perhaps surprisingly, remains his personal favourite for several reasons, not least because of the show’s high level of production standards for which it is still noted today. This coupled with the authenticity of the costumes and sets plus the peach of a role in James Twelvetrees, makes this series stand out from the rest for the actor.


Set in the 1920’s, You Rang M’Lord revolved around the upstairs, downstairs existence of Lord Meldrum, his dysfunctional family and their servants. The main focus of the episodes centred on butler Alf Stokes (Paul Shane) and his frequent attempts to swindle his dim-witted employers. His efforts were usually thwarted by the incompetence of the lesser servants or the intervention of the pompous and self righteous footman, James Twelvetrees played by Jeff. In a role in which he completely epitomised the image of a 1920’s male servant, Jeff simply relished the opportunity to develop the character in his own inimitable style from the slicked back hair to the highly polished boots, immaculate uniform and starched wing collars. That said, it wasn’t always the easiest of roles to portray. Long days filming while standing stiffly to attention in true servant stance, often resulted in Jeff suffering severe back pain plus there was always the challenge of not fainting on set as much of the recording was done during blisteringly hot summer months with the actor required to wear a full three piece uniform together with overcoat and bowler hat.


Unlike most sitcoms of the era, each episode ran for 50 minutes as opposed to the usual 30. As with Croft and Perry’s other series, the characters were all immensely strong and in the main, wonderfully eccentric. Using the tried and trusted formula casting actors from their previous series, by the time You Rang M’Lord hit our TV screens, it almost appeared the writers had created their own sitcom rep company. In addition to Jeff and Paul Shane from Hi de Hi, joining the cast regulars were Su Pollard as Ivy, the well meaning but rather naïve maid, Donald Hewlett and Michael Knowles (It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) as the highly respected Lord Meldrum and not so honourable The Honourable Teddy Meldrum and Bill Pertwee (Dad’s Army) as the opportunist P.C. Wilson. Completing the cast were Mavis Pugh as Lady Lavender whose eccentricity bordered on senility, Brenda Cowling as cook Mrs Lipton, Barbara New as Mabel the lowly scullery maid and Perry Benson as bootboy Henry   whose insight but unfortunate and inappropriate remarks frequently led him into trouble. New to the team were Susie Brann as Poppy Meldrum, the bright but snobbish younger daughter of Lord Meldrum and Catherine Rabett as her older sister Cissy who despite her striking good looks, favoured dressing as a man and behaving in a tomboyish manner. Thus, although it was never explicitly stated, Cissy displayed distinct lesbian tendencies creating a character of complete contrast to the much heralded camp portrayals of Mr Humphries, Bombardier Gloria Beaumont and Lt Gruber in other such comedy classics of the time.


You Rang M’Lord ran for 26 episodes over 4 years.

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