Long-running British sitcom about James Shelley - an educated, sardonic, permanently unemployed 'professional freelance layabout'. Following his battles with authority, the tax-man, his landlady and his girlfriend Fran.

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6   5   4   3   2   1  
1984   1983   1982   1981   1980   1979  
2 nominations. See more awards »
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Long-running British sitcom about James Shelley - an educated, sardonic, permanently unemployed 'professional freelance layabout'. Following his battles with authority, the tax-man, his landlady and his girlfriend Fran.

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Comedy

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12 July 1979 (UK)  »

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(39 episodes)

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1.33 : 1
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Followed by The Return of Shelley (1988) See more »

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Lay about with Shelley
31 July 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Despite their protestations ITV are not known for their sit-coms. It is usually a mirth fee zone but every now and then a gem is discovered and Shelly is a bona fide, premium grade comedy classic.

Hywel Bennett plays the over educated professional layabout Shelley whose mission in life is to avoid work and muse about life. It was anti establishment and anti Tory which gave it a political edge.

It had sharp writing and funny without resorting to knockabout comedy. In Hywel Bennett they found the perfect actor. Bennett was someone who was a rising star in the late 1960s but problems in his personal life meant he hit skid row in the early 70s and was out of the limelight until the late 1970s.

Shelley established him back to the forefront, he might had looked older and less baby faced than before but still attractive enough to make Shelley appealing enough to women and an everyman philosopher without turning to bombast.

Later series had to deal with issues when his screen wife left the show and had him musing to a tape recorder to his daughter now relocated to Canada. Some years later Shelly returned in new episodes, more wiser, more cynical but still funny as ever. A lasting tribute to Hywel Bennett.


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