A modern television classic set in the Eighties, A Rather English Marriage tells the story of two recently widowed men; a brash World War Two squadron leader (Albert Finney) and a retired milkman (Tom Courtenay) who form an unlikely alliance as they come to terms with their bereavements.
The two men miss their wives for totally different reasons, Roy Southgate (Courtenay) is a loyal, devoted husband who spends hours with his wife when visiting her at hospital. Reggie Conyngham-Jervis (Finney) is a philanderer who relies on his wife mainly for her cooking and cleaning skills and sees his hospital visits as time that could be better spent in the pub.
When a social worker sees that each man could be the solution to the other's problems, these two characters (complete opposites plagued by personal problems they try to keep hidden) who were hospital waiting room acquaintances are now brought together full time.
This is the sort of charming, well-written television drama that nobody seems to want to make anymore, the two leads forming an even more effective partnership than they did in The Dresser fifteen years earlier where Finney stole the show.
Courtenay is superbly understated, Finney is more powerful and boisterous and probably the more versatile actor. Their contrasting styles complement each other perfectly.
Although this is mainly a double-act, Joanna Lumley also excels as the gold-digger who has her eye on Reggie's wallet.
However this drama belongs equally to Finney and Courtenay. The final scene with these two grand old men of film and theatre dancing to Glenn Miller's 'Moonlight Serenade' will surely prove to be one of the most lasting and endearing moments in British television.
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