Just Good Friends is a British sitcom written by John Sullivan. It starred Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis as former lovers Vincent Pinner and Penny Warrender, who meet in a pub five years after he jilted her at the altar.
Three series and a 90-minute Christmas special were produced for the BBC by Ray Butt. In 2004, it came 43rd in Britain’s Best Sitcom.
Writer John Sullivan had previously written two successful sitcoms for the BBC, Citizen Smith and Only Fools and Horses. The lead roles in these series had all been male, and Sullivan felt he should base his new sitcom around a woman. His source of inspiration was a letter in a magazine read to him by his wife, written by a woman who had been jilted by her fiancé on the day of her wedding.
According to a 2007 Comedy Connections documentary on Just Good Friends, Sullivan was originally motivated to create the character by Cheryl Hall, the co-star of Citizen Smith. Hall complained that Sullivan was incapable of writing comedy for women, always giving the best of his material to the male characters. Sullivan was stung by the remark because, in his words, “she was absolutely right”, and deliberately set out to create a strong and funny female lead.
Jan Francis, who had played Lisa Colbert in Secret Army, was cast as Penny, and established theatre actor Paul Nicholas was chosen to play Vincent, although this was his first major television role. Being a notable singer, Nicholas also performed the title theme song, written by John Sullivan and arranged by Ronnie Hazlehurst. For the end title music, Hazlehurst arranged the theme for flugelhorn.
A really enjoyable, funny show that was a joy to watch each week, the cast was amazingly funny and believable. 8/10
- Paul Nicholas as Vincent Pinner
- Jan Francis as Penny Warrender
- John Ringham as Norman Warrender
- Sylvia Kay as Daphne Warrender
- Shaun Curry as Les Pinner
- Ann Lynn as Rita Pinner (Series 2 onwards)
- Adam French as Clifford Pinner
- Charlotte Seely as Georgina “Gina” Marshall, Vince’s wife (Series 3)
- Colette Gleeson as Elaine, Penny’s friend and co-worker
- James Lister as Lennie, Vince’s friend
- Bill Wallis as A.J. Styles, Penny’s boss
- Sally Faulkner as Bev, Vince’s secretary (Series 3)
- Andrew Tourell as Graham Pratt, Penny’s husband