One of my favorite British imports is the romantic comedy As Time Goes By which comes to American television through the courtesy of PBS. Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer play Jean and Lionel Hardcastle, but it wasn’t always so. The romance took a long time to come to fruition for a variety of reasons.
Jean and Lionel had first met during the Korean War when Jean was a nurse and Lionel was in the British Army as a Second Lieutenant. They fell deeply in love; however, Lionel was sent off to Korea and promised to write. Unfortunately, the letter was lost and each thought the other was no longer interested.
Fast forward 38 years later – Lionel is a divorced man and Jean is a widow with one daughter Judith. Lionel has written a memoir of his years in Kenya and is seeking a secretarial agency to help him put his memoir together. Coincidentally, Jean owns a secretarial agency where she and her daughter Judith work. Lionel walked into their office when Judith was working alone and conducted his business with her. Judith was quite fascinated with the older gentleman and spoke glowingly to Jean about him.
A few days later, Lionel and Jean met again after 38 years. It took several meetings before they unraveled the awful truth that Lionel’s letter had never gotten through.
Well, you guessed it. Lionel and Jean married and all episodes thereafter pertain to their wedded bliss. It is interesting that so many of their serious conversations occur as they are readying for bed or are in bed reading. The British aren’t so stuffy after all.
One reason I watch the program is the music that is played at the beginning and at the end of the show. Of course, it is the song As Time Goes By – beautiful music and lyrics which brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it.
That marvelous Judi Dench was given the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1988, an honor conferred by a sovereign in recognition of personal merit or service to the country.
It is Judi Dench who is responsible for the success of As Time Goes By. The series ran for almost 10 years, from 1992 to 2002. Of course, I have to compliment Geoffrey Palmer also who has innate charm and is perfect in his role as Lionel.
I search the channels often because As Time Goes By is not on every week day as it was previously. It still remains my favorite British import.
As Time Goes By – BBC Television Series
PBS: Public Broadcasting Service