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When good TV goes bad: Goodnight Sweetheart

At the start the sitcom was a compelling comment on male insecurity, but it soon descended into cartoonish plotlines

The 1990s were an innocent time. Tony Blair was a god, Donald Trump was a joke and the world felt hopeful. It really did seem as though things could only get better. In 1992, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama went so far as to publish a book called The End of History and the Last Man arguing that the triumph of liberal democracy marked a new age of stable government and sunlit uplands. The only real worry was whether you preferred Blur or Oasis. So it was perhaps inevitable that into this comfortable stupor popped Gary Sparrow, a time-travelling bigamist TV repair engineer from Cricklewood.

Gary, played by the affable Nicholas Lyndhurst, was the protagonist of Goodnight Sweetheart, one of the most successful sitcoms of that halcyon decade. In it, Gary is

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