In 1977, two of the cast from 'Are You Being Served?' - John Inman and Mollie Sugden - were given their own shows. Inman's was a Vince Powell scripted show for Thames Television entitled 'Odd Man Out', which was about a man who inherits half ownership of a seaside rock factory from his father. Sugden's was a BBC sitcom entitled 'Come Back Mrs. Noah' which was written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft ( the same team behind 'Are You Being Served?' ) and focused on the story of a housewife who is accidentally blasted into space after visiting a space shuttle as a prize in a competition. Both shows were a disaster, each only running for one series. In 1981, the pair were given a second chance, Inman moved to Southern Television for 'Take A Letter, Mr. Jones' ( a big business sitcom by Ronald Wolfe & Ronald Chesney ) whilst Sugden was taken under the wing of Yorkshire Television to take on the leading role in Pam Valentine and Michael Ashton's 'That's My Boy'. Inman's second show fared no better than his first whereas Sudgen had more success this time round. 'That's My Boy' proved sufficiently popular to run to five series.
Meet Ida Willis, a hard-as-nails housekeeper whose no-nonsense approach makes her unpopular with clients. One day, a young doctor by the name of Robert Price ( the late Christopher Blake ) and his sexy model wife Angie ( Jennifer Lonsdale ) apply for a housekeeper. Guess who should be sent out to their glamorous flat for the job? Whilst Angie seems to take to her, Robert dislikes her on sight. To make matters even worse he later discovers ( in one of those strange coincidences that only ever seems to happen in a sitcom ) that she is his long lost mother ( Ida gave him up for adoption when he was a baby ). As the series progresses, Robert and Ida both warm to each other, however Ida refuses to refer to him as anything other than Shane ( which was the name she gave him ), something that gets right up the hooter of Mrs. Price ( Clare Richards ), Robert's rather snooty adoptive mother.
In the fourth series Robert has moved from his flat in Muswell Hill to a doctor's apartment in Little Birchmarch where he takes on the dithering Miss. Parfitt ( Deddie Davies ) as his secretary and in the final series, Angie becomes an actress for television commercials, much to Robert's dismay.
Original? Definitely not! Contrived? Most certainly, but it was highly amusing and compared to Valentine and Ashton's previous sitcom 'You're Only Young Twice' ( set in a retirement home and starring Peggy Mount ) it is Noel Coward. Sugden may be best remembered for 'Are You Being Served?' but in my opinion 'That's My Boy' is vastly superior. Christopher Blake plays Robert much in the same way as he played Thomas Simpson in 'Mixed Blessings' while Jennifer Londsale does not get much to do than flutter her eyelashes and look pretty. Harold Goodwin was impressive in those episodes he did as Ida's scrounging brother Wilfred.
It was pleasant, inoffensive stuff, never reaching any great heights but keeping one laughing throughout. Strangely enough, apart from a repeat on the now defunct Granada Plus about fifteen years ago, it has more or less disappeared. After 'That's My Boy' finished, Valentine and Ashton cast Sugden ( aside her husband William Moore ) in another Yorkshire Television sitcom - 'My Husband & I' - which ran for two series.
'That's My Boy' was released on DVD a few years by Network. For Mollie Sugden fans, it is a must!