With 'Hi-De-Hi' coming to an end in 1988, Jimmy Perry and David Croft searched for another hit, and found one that same year with 'You Rang, M'Lord' which starred three of the cast members from 'Hi-De-Hi' - Su Pollard, Jeffrey Holland and the late Paul Shane - swapping their Maplins Yellowcoat costumes for that of servant ones.
Set in the 1920's, two British soldiers Alf Stokes ( Shane ) and James Twelvetrees ( Holland ) end up securing themselves jobs as servants to Lord Meldrum ( Donald Hewlitt ) after they saved the life of his younger brother Teddy ( Michael Knowles ) during the first world war, where Alf serves as butler whilst James serves as a footman.
Rather like George Russell from Vince Powell and Harry Driver's 'George & The Dragon', Teddy Meldrum is an incorrigible lech whose advances against the parlour maids has resulted in their subsequent resignations. Lord Meldrum in desperation then entrusts Alf to find a new maid, one that is plain and ordinary looking rather than the attractive young ladies that are normally employed for the job. Alf then sends for his daughter Ivy ( Pollard ), who gets the job right away ( as Alf supplied Meldrum with forged references ) though her relationship with Alf is never revealed to Meldrum or the others.
Other characters include Meldrum's daughters, the snooty Poppy ( Susie Brann ) and tomboy Cissy ( the gorgeous Catherine Rabett ), kindly cook Mrs. Lipton ( Brenda Cowling ), dopey boot-boy Henry ( Perry Benson ) who is often seen getting clipped round the ear, common as muck charlady Mabel ( the late Barbara New ) and Meldrum's dotty mother-in-law Lady Lavender Southwick ( Mavis Pugh ). One of the many recurring gags in the show is Meldrum's affair with Lady Agatha ( Angela Scoular ), the wife of Sir Ralph Shawcross ( John Horsley ). Bill Pertwee appeared occasionally as Constable Wilson.
'You Rang, M'Lord' is not as fondly remembered as 'Hi-De-Hi', possibly because it did not last as long but in my opinion it was far superior and while it may not have been one of the best sitcoms of all time, gave the viewer at least one good laugh a week. Unusually for a Lloyd and Croft creation, each episode was fifty minutes in length as opposed to thirty, possibly to allow more time for character development. Su Pollard is far more appealing here than in 'Hi-De'Hi' in which she came over as annoying and infantile, and the rest of the cast, particularly Paul Shane and Jeffrey Holland, all turn in wonderful performances.
Shortly after 'You Rang, M'Lord' finished, Pollard, Shane and Holland were reunited yet again for two series of the railway based sitcom 'Oh, Dr. Beeching', which I rather liked too. As is typical of a Perry & Croft creation, 'You Rang, M'Lord' is nothing particularly original or insightful but it is entertaining and worthwhile, and that's all that matters.