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As Time Goes By

A British series about former lovers reunited by chance after a 38-year separation chronicles their awkward courtship and eventual marriage.


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As Time Goes By

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Love gets a second chance - 38 years on - in this warm and witty comedy by Bob Larbey. A worldwide success, especially in America, it stars Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer as long-lost sweethearts Jean Pargetter and Lionel Hardcastle, who lost touch after a whirlwind romance in the early 1950s when he was posted to Korea. Series One sees them reunited 38 years later when Lionel returns to England to write his memoirs, and Jean's agency supplies him with a secretary. Though both are free agents (Lionel is divorced and Jean is a widow), they are old now and set in their ways, so they don't fall into each other's arms. A few misunderstandings need clearing up, Lionel is dating Jean's daughter, and Jean has to fight off advances from Lionel's trendy young publisher Alistair.

Episode Descriptions

Season 1

Episode 1

Lionel and Jean meet again by accident after 38 years. Each has been married but is now alone. There is a possibility that they could get together again, but 38 years is a long time and many things have changed.

Episode 2

Although 38 years ago Lionel and Jean were young and in love, any thoughts of rekindling the romance seem absurd. They have made vague promises to keep in touch, but there is some doubt as to whether they really will.

Episode 3

Jean and Lionel have now established a vague, uneasy friendship. Does this give them enough common ground on which they can build a new relationship?

Episode 4

After spending a day visiting old haunts together, Lionel departs London to give a lecture. Jean is persuaded by her daughter to pay him a surprise visit. It is Jean who is surprised when she finds Lionel with one Denise on his arm.

Episode 5

Relations have turned quite frosty between them since Jean has found Lionel in the company of another woman. Alistair, Lionel’s agent, has become keen on Jean. Jean responds to his attentions as a way of getting back at Lionel.

Episode 6

Judy, Jean’s daughter, is besotted with Lionel while Alistair is smitten with Jean. Lionel and Jean are flattered by the attention but feel it must sop. They plan a picnic with the Judy and Alistair in hopes that the two of them will hit it off together.

Season 2

Episode 1 

Lionel is more scared of being "shot" for his book cover than he was of being shot during the Korean War. While Jean at first declines to accompany his to the studio, she later decides to join him and is amused at the photographer’s tricks.

Episode 2 

Judy leaves home so that her mother and Lionel can have the house to themselves for the weekend. This leaves Jean with misgivings since everything is so set up. Lionel sees his book cover photograph and pronounces it "…vaguely pornographic."

Epiosode 3 

Lionel and Jean take a trip to Hampshire to meet his father. The 85 year old Mr. Hardcastle defies stereotype. He is an outgoing eccentric with a house crammed full of items which reflect his interest - from juke boxes to motor bikes.

Episode 4

Lionel and Jean work on getting him a suitable outfit for his impending book launch. Meanwhile, Lionel cannot figure why a talented publisher like Alistair is working so hard to promote his book, one which even Lionel admits is "…rather a dull read."

Episode 5

A chance meeting with Jean’s sister-in-law Penny leads to a weekend in the country and a tricky situation for Lionel and Jean. Not wanting to admit to Penny that their relationship goes back four decades, Jean fibs that they have know one another for only a few months.

Episode 6

Back from a country weekend with Lionel, Jean is annoyed at Judy’s insinuations about the relationship with Lionel. Lionel only makes matters worse when he crassly invites Jean to join him on a "freebie" cruise.

Episode 7

Lionel has "first night nerves" over his first signing session at a book shop. Alistair and Jean, meanwhile, are working overtime wheedling and cajoling friends and acquaintances to queue up for signatures from the author

Season 3

Episode 1

When Lionel and Jean were young they dreamed of a romantic holiday together in Paris. Now that dream has become reality, they find they are not alone in this lovers’ paradise and that true love never runs smoothly.

Episode 2

Lionel’s father is getting married. Jean and Lionel have key roles to play, her as bridesmaid and him to give away the bride. But events on wedding day go awry, and Lionel winds up in a quite different role.

Episode 3

Jean and Lionel have made the decision to live together. However, wires get crossed and there is confusion about who is to go live with whom. They end up still living apart.

Episode 4

Jean and Lionel are still stale-mated over who will live with whom. Jean’s sister-in-law is in town and wants to meet the "lovey-dovey" twosome. Not willing to admit the real situation, Jean embarks on a cover up.

Episode 5

Jean and Lionel have at last agreed that Lionel should move in with Jean. When they are left alone in their new joint accommodation, they find it a little difficult to adjust to their new way of life.

Episode 6

Jean is opening another secretarial agency and is looking for someone to run it. Meanwhile, work for Lionel seems to have dried up, giving Jean cause for concern. But Lionel is withholding something from her.

Episode 7

Alistair returns from a trip to the US and announces that he has an American TV company interested in their love story as a mini-series. Lionel has very little time to write a treatment before lunching with a production representative.

Episode 8

Jean and Lionel travel to Los Angeles to discuss turning their story into a film. But Jean becomes quite concerned when Lionel meets the executive who will decide their fate.

Episode 9

Back from California and suffering from jet lag, Lionel takes to bed. Jean, however, must see to a problem on the part of Judy and Sandy with the manager just appointed at the new branch office.

Episode 10

There is more disquiet this week as Jean and Lionel engage in further discussions of the mini-series to be based on their love story

Season 4

Episode 1

Sandy has moved herself into the Pargetter household. With Judy also living at home, Lionel finds himself surrounded by females and wonders if he has done the right thing in moving in.

Episode 2

The American producers have requested some spicier re-writes in Lionel’s script for the mini-series. One of Jean’s secretaries is brought in to help, but how much help can one expect from one over zealous secretary?

Episode 3

Lionel’s chattering secretary, Gwen, is still around with her "helpful" suggestions, but jean devises a plan to get rid of her without hurting her feelings.

Episode 4

Jean’s sister-in-law, Penny, is convinced that her husband is having an affair with his dental hygienist. Penny insists on moving in with Jean and Lionel.

Episode 5

The American producer is scouting locations for the mini-series. Jean and Lionel hear some unexpected but welcome news from his father Rocky and his quite eccentric wife Madge.

Episode 6

Lionel’s proposal to Jean has been accepted, but Judy is now barely on speaking terms with Alistair. Sandy has walked out on her boyfriend. Stephen’s plans for a surprise anniversary party for Penny go hopelessly wrong.

Episode 7

Jean and Lionel set the date for their wedding. While all the women in the wedding party are shopping for clothes, Lionel has at last finished the script for the American mini-series based on his and Jean’s romance.

Episode 8

Wedding day nerves appear to get the best of Lionel. Meanwhile, Jean does her best to remain composed in spite of her sister-in-law’s well intentioned efforts to calm her.

Episode 9

Judy has a new romantic interest. From Sandy’s evasive comments there is clearly a problem. Jean’s efforts on her daughter’s behalf only lead to further complications.

Episode 10

The mini-series based on Jean and Lionel’s romance is finally in production. In the course of shooting sequences, the American producers reveal some of the "improvements" they have wrought in Lionel’s original script.

Season 5

Episode 1

With Lionel’s father and step-mother off yak-riding in Mongolia, Jean and Lionel decide to head off for the Pargetter country home. They then are "adopted" by the country set who have scheduled a whirlwind of social activities.

Episode 2

Lionel unexpectedly receives a letter from ex-wife Margaret. When he and Jean meet with her, Margaret is far from the frumpy woman Lionel remembers. And she has a boy toy in tow to boot.

Episode 3

In search for a hobby to help occupy his time, Lionel takes to model boat building. Jean and company become concerned with this pastime and take action.

Episode 4

On their last trip to the country, both Jean and Lionel were unsettled by the constant jostling of the country set. They will try stealth and sneaking into his family country home…with predictable consequences.

Episode 5

Alistair announces the mini-series based on their romance is due to telecast in the States in September. Lionel is miffed at the re-write to his script and refuses to attend the premiere. Judy and Sandy leap at the chance to go.

Episode 6

The day of judgment finally arrives: the transmission in the US of the mini-series based on Jean and Lionel’s love story. How well will it be received?

Episode 7

When Lionel and Jean made a stand against the ghastly country set several weeks earlier, they became very popular with the villagers. Those same villagers now shower the couple with gifts ranging from a firkin of ale to a piglet.

Season 6

Episode 1

Lionel is feeling brave and protective, giving his wife, Jean (Judi Dench), cause for concern. Lionel's pride is severely dented, not only because of Jean's reaction, but also because he has tried - and failed - to open a jar of pickled onions.

Episode 2

While Lionel is "quite content with doing very little slowly," his wife, Jean, is bringing work home with her and irritating her daughter, Judy, and colleague, Sandy, in the office.

Episode 3

Jean and Lionel manage to survive an evening with Jean's intimidating sister-in-law. Jean is surrounded by dilemmas, none of which she would want to share with the nosy Penny.

Episode 4

Lionel is not well and Jean is trying to console him, whilst getting to the root of what has upset the housekeeper, Mrs. Bale. During a weekend at Rocky and Madge's house, Mrs. Bale becomes decidedly fractious towards them, whenever they ask if she needs assistance with anything.

Episode 5

Jean and Lionel are greeted by an unwelcome guest and a shocking announcement when they return home to London. Judy had her new boyfriend, Paul, staying while Jean and Lionel were away, much to Jean's dismay.

Episode 6

Lionel, Jean, Judy, and Sandy are concerned when they hear noises from the empty house next door. After Lionel calls the police, the doorbell rings and standing on the doorstep is their ex-neighbor, Mr. Carter.

Episode 7

Jean feels her life is mundane and uneventful and she wants Lionel to come up with a suitable surprise to pep things up. Alistair suggests Lionel takes Jean to Barbados the next day and he will set it all up.

Season 7

Episode 1

Jean suspects that Lionel is going deaf. But despite the fact that he clearly can't hear very much, Lionel resists going to a doctor. Meanwhile, he becomes convinced that Jean is having problems with her eyes and sets about solving this dilemma.

Episode 2

Jean and Lionel take a parental interest in Harry, Sandy's policeman boyfriend.Yet, the affairs of the younger generation seem to diminish in importance when Jean receives a phone message from an old flame.

Episode 3

Jean undertakes some strategic snooping to discover what the new neighbors are like. How is it they show up at the pub with black eyes after fighting with one another?

Episode 4

The whole gang, minus Harry who is stuck on duty for protest coverage, head out to the country for the weekend. But road construction is about to throw the travelers for a loop.

Episode 5

Jean's brother, Steven and his wife are expected for another visit. As they are considered a rather dull couple by the Hardcastles, it is most surprising that they arrive via separate modes of transportation to announce that they are having a tiff.

Episode 6

Jean gets the whole gang, including Lionel's father, Rocky, and his stepmother to help out with her old-age party at the church hall. Lionel is the last to agree and is anxious about the whole idea, especially after being told to watch out for Mrs.Thrupp.

Episode 7

The Duncans abruptly vacate the dwelling next door and Judith has the wonderful idea of her and Alistair taking up residence there. Lionel has his reservations, but they are nothing compared to the reservations Judith has when Alistair proposes marriage for an odd reason.

Season 8

Episode 1

As Judith and Sandy no longer have boyfriends, Jean wants to think of a way to cheer them up. She enlists Lionel’s support, so thinks when Alistair calls round on business that he is there to help. Judith returns home unexpectedly to find her ex in the house. Jean, not want to be seen as interfering, tells her that Lionel has a deeply personal problem that only Alistair can help with. Having got out of one fix, Jean has unconsciously thrown Lionel into an even bigger one as Judith and Sandy are intrigued to find out what Lionel’s deeply personal problem can be. The ideas they come up with get ever more bizarre. As Jean tries to keep the lid on events, it becomes clear that it is spiralling out of control. Eventually Lionel decides to come clean and tell the truth, but even then they don’t believe him.

Episode 2

Lionel finds that he has attracted the attentions of a dog but Jean doesn’t believe him until it turns up on their doorstep. Jean, Judith and Sandy want to keep him but Lionel insists that they make an effort to trace the real owner before he will consider letting the dog stay. When Judith and Sandy report the missing dog at the police station, Sandy bumps into her ex-boyfriend, Harry (David Michaels), a policeman, who later turns up with the dog’s real owner – just as Lionel is warming to the idea of keeping him. Harry is perplexed to see a glamorous Sandy being taken to an embassy function by Judith’s ex-boyfriend, Alistair, and Jean prompts Harry to invite Judith out for the evening. Everything seems to have been sorted out, until Jean spots a stray cat in the garden.

Episode 3

Lionel walks in on Sandy in the bath. He is embarrassed by the incident but Jean, Judith and Sandy all see the funny side. Jean then thinks more seriously about the issue and decides it is time to look at adding an additional bathroom. She calls in a builder. Alistair hears there has been an "incident" but nobody will tell him what happened. As the building project becomes more of an issue, Sandy and Judith consider moving out. The tension between Jean and Lionel increases as they try to decorate the changing room at the charity shop where Jean works. To restore harmony, Jean calls everyone together and talks them into agreeing the additional space. Unfortunately, she then discovers that they can’t afford the work anyway. Feeling foolish, she realises that she has blown a small incident out of all proportion. Lionel comes to the rescue over a romantic meal.

Episode 4

Jean receives a postcard from Spain to say that her sister-in-law Penny (Moyra Fraser) and husband Stephen (Paul Chapman) have a surprise and are planning to stop by on their way home on Saturday – the following day. The family dreads their arrival but is curious to find out about the surprise. After viewing countless holiday snaps and following some prompting by Jean, they discover that Penny and Stephen are planning to retire to Spain and live in a large villa with gardeners, maids and all the trimmings – all paid for by their pension plans. Lionel broods over his lack of a pension and feels that he is letting Jean down, though she assures him that this is not the case. But as the weekend progresses, it becomes evident that Stephen has no intention of living in Spain and insists that Penny will come to the same conclusion in her own time. He still plans to retire though, he tells Jean, so they will be able to spend more time together; Jean is only comforted by the fact that the house next door is no longer for sale.

Episode 5

Lionel is still concerned about his lack of pension investments, and to ease his financial worries, Alistair suggests he sells the country house. Lionel and Jean travel to the country to break the news to Mrs Bale (Janet Henfrey) and Lol (Tim Wylton). When they arrive, Mrs Bale, Lol and Rocky (Frank Middlemass) are reminiscing about Christmas parties past and suggest to Lionel that they be re-introduced. This makes Lionel’s announcement all the more difficult and when he finally brings himself to tell them of his plans, he and Jean decide to return to London straightaway. Meanwhile, Sandy realises that although she is the one whom Alistair is pampering, it’s Judith he really wants. Jean and Lionel’s arrival back in London is quickly followed by a telephone call from Rocky. He has found a buyer for the country house – himself. Lionel is delighted and Jean thinks it’s the perfect solution, until they realise that Rocky will be buying back the very home he gave away.

Episode 6

Jean is feeling left behind in the technological age and decides it’s time to get on the Internet, but when her modem arrives neither Judith nor Sandy knows how to install it. Deciding to do it herself, Jean fuses the lights. Lionel fixes them but refuses to help install the modem. Meanwhile, Sandy’s date with Alistair is cut short when he is contacted by a colleague. She tells Judith she will not be seeing Alistair anymore, while Judith says she has stopped seeing Harry (David Michaels). Alistair meets Lionel at the pub with the devastating news that he has lost all his money. Lionel takes him home where he receives a frosty reception – until they hear his story. Judith likes this very different Alistair and he wins back her heart. Alistair gets Jean’s computer online and uses it to sort out his financial problems. He salvages £1.5 million. Sandy agrees to see Harry again after he promises he won’t play rugby for the rest of the season. She doesn’t yet know about his broken leg. Lionel is frustrated by Jean’s enthusiasm for the Internet but delighted when a power cut gives them time for romance by candlelight.

Season 9

Episode One

Sandy’s policeman boyfriend, Harry, calls at the house to tell Sandy some important news. Jean tries desperately to get it out of him, but isn’t supported by Lionel, who keeps changing the subject. Meanwhile, Alistair – who has had dates with both girls in the household – suddenly realises he wants Judith and that he should settle down. But his business is booming, so which will come first – work or romance? Meanwhile, Sandy is discovering Harry’s news. He has been promoted to Detective Sergeant and has been offered an attachment to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But though he is making plans for his new life, it is beginning to look as if she may not be part of it.

Episode Two

Alistair has finally proposed marriage to Judith and has been accepted. Jean is naturally delighted for her daughter and can’t wait to make plans for the wedding. Needless to say, there are some complications when realisation strikes confirmed bachelor Alistair, while Judith has her own plans for a country wedding. Jean’s sister-in-law Penny and her long-suffering husband Stephen have some news of their own which may prevent them from attending the wedding – he is due to receive an OBE for his services to dentistry. Meanwhile, Lionel’s father Rocky and Mrs Bale prepare for the big event in the village.

Episode Three

As the day of Judith and Alistair’s wedding approaches, the women are putting the final touches to their plans.A minor hitch occurs when the best man breaks his leg, so Rocky is asked to do the honours instead. Alistair is still being emotional while Jean is now working hard to pair Harry off with Sandy. The day of the country wedding finally arrives and turns out to be a big success – with a little help from Rocky, Lol and Mrs Bale.

Episode Four

With Judith and Alistair away on their honeymoon, the house seems very empty to Jean as she frets about the nature of time and where it all goes. Despite all Jean and Sandy’s efforts, Harry has still not proposed. Jean is considering asking Sandy to take over as office manager at the secretarial agency. However, all ends well as Harry finally sees sense and whisks Sandy off with him to Canada. Jean tries to teach Lionel a lesson about trust and, despite his disapproval, gives a temporary home to Dave (Lara Cazalet), a bright down-and-out woman whom they find camping out on their doorstep.There is also a surprise reappearance.

You Must Remember This

For the first time in ages, Jean and Lionel have the house to themselves following Judith’s wedding and Sandy’s departure with Harry to Canada. Jean is trying to persuade Lionel to write ‘part two' of his autobiography, from where they met up again after 38 years and decided to give love another chance. ”It sounds made up!” is Lionel's response. There then follows flashbacks to that meeting and all the other memorable moments since (including a perfect proposal and the chaos of Judith and Sandy’s on/off relationships), each of which Jean maintains could make a chapter.