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Short summary

The show centres on pub landlord Ken (John Henshaw), especially his preoccupation with his daughter Melanie (Christine Bottomley), and his nervous relationship with barmaid Tanya (Susan Cookson). Ken's wife left him for his best friend. The series reflects more than a little of the Northern humour displayed in The Royle Family (co-written by Cash). In a similar style to The Royle Family, every scene unfolds within the spatial context of The Grapes and it is also set in the Greater Manchester area.

Caroline Aherne originally intended to co- write the show with Craig Cash but dropped out of the project for personal reasons and Phil Mealey came on board to co write and star with Cash.

In the second series Joe refers to Melanie's previous boyfriend as being "shameless" for the way he dumped her. This is an in- joke about former co star James McAvoy (who played Mel's boyfriend in season 1) who had left the show to star in the hit Channel 4 series Shameless.

When Phil and Nige's radio goes off and you hear someone saying phonetic alphabet words, it always spells out a swear word.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Zainn
    Why is it that every comedy now has to either have some "incredibly original" gimmick, or be extremely vulgar, or both, to hit it big? This consigns near-masterpieces like Early Doors to the slops bucket of TV history. Yes, as many observe, little happens in the course of the half hour, but you certainly don't even think about that when you're watching it. Cash and Mealey's genius is to realise that everybody's lives are generally repetitive, and so they are likely to have the same discussion in the same refuge every day. This is never treated with a hint of irony, but genuine warmth for the old school pubs that Ken and his lost bretheren run. Lacklustre shows like The Smoking Room and Little Britain, so pleased with themselves and determined to run down the losers, halfwits and layabouts of this world, would do well to learn from this and find that happiness is in whatever routine you, not society, carves out for you.
  • comment
    • Author: Nahelm
    This has to be the most underrated and forgotten about 'MASTERPIECE' that has ever come out of the BBC, writers Craig Cash and Phil Mealey crerated something absolutely wonderful here with this one. Why on Earth did this not get more coverage and no further series, Criminal, the characters were all thoroughly believable and lovable!!! Jean and Winnie's dailogues are just the most funny thing I have ever seen, incredible. But the line of Eddie and Tommy speaking about Joan's driving test, wot sign would you expect to see on a narrow country lane answer 'fresh farm eggs for sale' absolute genius. I can see the same fate happening to the current series 'The Visit' very similar and again wonderfully fantastic, why aren't these on bbc on prime spots instead of rubbish like 'after you've gone and green green grass!!! Please someone read this and take note. To the regiment!!! I wish i was there, a real gem of comedy, with a hint of heart warming drama running through it as well
  • comment
    • Author: Dorintrius
    Caught this by chance when first on BBC2 ages ago and now have become Eddiesque with my non stop quotes. The beauty is its simplicity, a pub full of half wits and cretins talking rubbish about things of no consequence i.e exactly what a good pub should be! Ken topping the branded spirits up with cheap tat, Duffy with his Polaroids, Eddie and his jury service and perhaps my favourite Tommy during Melanies 21st birthday with his table in the toilets, Ken; Are you coming out when she cuts the cake, or do you want her to bring it in here? Tommy; P*** off!Possibly only modern comedy (Gervais being a possible exception) that can make me cry laughing. Heard rumours of a third series with the second being shown on BBC1 in August 06, I wait for more tales of temporary traffic lights at the junction of Burdall Lane, by McVities. Sheer 100% genius
  • comment
    • Author: Vudomuro
    Early Doors is laugh-out-loud funny, tender, heartwarming, exasperating, fascinating, at times even a little disgusting, this television series has everything anybody could want, and more. From the very first episode of the first series you take the cast to your hearts and want to know more about what the community, collectively and individually, get up to next. The main takes place in Ken's pub (the landlord) and the comings and goings of this 'small world' (the theme tune taken from Roddy Frame's debut album Surf) are not to be missed. The characters are all so very real and this snapshot of working class northern life is a real gem...you can't fail to fall in love with it! Enjoy! :)
  • comment
    • Author: Oparae
    I watched both series on the BBC and now own the DVD's. A well crafted comedy with what I would consider instantly likable characters. To pick out one character, would be a dis-service, as all shine. I believe the key to good comedy is the relationship on and off camera between the actors and it's a delight to watch the out-takes on the DVD, must have been a joy to go to work everyday.

    Shame it's not too well known, people either shake their head or shrug their shoulders when I ask them if they've seen it. I prefer this to the Royle Family, probably cause I know what it's like to walk into a pub where the regulars are regular. Hoping for more.
  • comment
    • Author: Xanzay
    This show is just about as good as TV gets. To watch it and suddenly realize 30 minutes have elapsed invariably surprises me. It is just about the most relaxing TV I have ever seen.

    The Grapes is typical of the back street pub close to extinction in the north west of England. Especially one that serves cask conditioned beer. It's a celebration of it's gentle goings on and a sad obituary to their passing.

    The latest series has just started and Ken realises the men in suits from the PubCo are round the corner, waiting to do what men in suits are consistently good at. Close the pub.

    In the second episode, Ken soldiers on stoically, he has a cold, his bone idle fat arsed mother asks how the kettle works, the degenerate bobby's Phil and Nige are passing the dutchie in the back room and in the front room, the sparse customers expose their lives unashamedly because that's what you do in The Grapes.

    After an episode packed with one liners, Ken finds himself propositioned by his barmaid. I only hope we don't have a storyline coming on. God forbid it. Early Doors is The Grapes not The Rovers Return.
  • comment
    • Author: Qudanilyr
    The other day I went to my special little video shop again to get some nice DVD for the evening in and found Early Doors sitting on the shelf. I had never heard about it, I didn't know the actors and feared I wouldn't be able to understand the northern dialect. But I rented it nevertheless (there were subtitles, they convinced me, because the mere sound of a Yorkshire dialect is beautiful, but I also want to know what they say) and was interest what Early Doors would be.

    In the first episode I got to know the characters, in the second their habits and moods, in the third you got used to them, in the fourth you started to like them, in the fifth you did like them and the sixth... was the last, unfortunately, although by now you loved the pub and its people and wanted to know more about them. But then it was already over. Three hours had passed without me noticing it! I hope there will be more episodes out on DVD soon, I really would love to watch them.

    And I can't get this catchy tune from the credits out of my head. For days now I'm humming it. This really is a beautiful little gem of a series. Typically British, I'd say. Let me tell you, if you love Britain and the British, watch Early Doors. You won't be disappointed. Time for more, gentlemen, please!
  • comment
    • Author: Armin
    I had the fortune of catching season one before I returned to the states. I told my friends about it "oh it's the uk version of cheers then?" well no, I don't remember sam talking a pee with the door open or norm and cliff talking about having bit on the side. Some might find it a bit boring but me I could have watched until closing time. 10/10 pure (working) class
  • comment
    • Author: ladushka
    This is easily one of the best sitcoms of the 21st century. Penned by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey, the ensemble cast do wonders with the script, and even though Eddie (Mark Benton) hammers a gag home to the point of annoyance, the effect doesn't detract from the series. The first run was beautifully handled by director Adrian Shergold, and while the second didn't boast the same gorgeous photography, Craig Cash ensured it was as rib tickling and as poignant. The rest of the cast are wonderful. Christine Bottomley is a ray of sunshine, while John Henshaw gives a sublime performance as her adoptive dad. Although there was no Christmas special or a third series, at least fans were left wanting more instead of wishing cast and crew hadn't milked the format dry. To the regiment! You'll wish you were there.
  • comment
    • Author: Ffleg
    I love Early Doors! Every character is so complete and every one of them each have their moment of the comic genius. Some of my favourites are of the cleaner, Winnie, winding up Jean - especially the scene where she's winding Jean up about her husband going to court for 'allegedly' being too familiar with the barmaids.

    Scenes that absolutely kill me are: 'Do you like circuses?' 'And all the kids shout out 'where's dopey?'' There are just too many moments of comic genius and this is the only comedy (other than The Royale Family) that I can watch over and over again and never get bored of it.

    Please, please, Craig Cash, if you read this, do a third series! I know you can do it. Save us from crap like 'My Family'! You're the best.
  • comment
    • Author: Adrierdin
    I caught up with this series late in the day, it was not promoted too heavily by the BBC, quite obviously. However, I have both DVDs and can honestly say this is one of the best situation comedies ever. I suppose the easiest way to describe it is to say, take The Royle Family and set it in a pub. But this show surpasses its predecessor by a mile. There are so many deft touches with the characters and the comedy. All of the players are superb (and many have now gone on to mainstream roles in other TV programmes presumably because of their performances here). And you would find it hard to find sharper writing anywhere else on TV. As with many shows, the formula is to have themes that develop over the series. There is the bitter-sweet story of Melanie finding her biological father. Ken's romancing of Tania. The two dodgy coppers, Phil and Nige. Duffy's marital problems. Whenever Eddie and Joan embark on one of their stories you know you are in for a treat. Some of the best TV comedies do not get the attention they deserve (Seinfeld, Larry Sanders) in the UK. Do yourself a favour and borrow, buy or rent the first series. You will be buying the second and giving them as gifts to your friends for Christmas!
  • comment
    • Author: Xarcondre
    Set solely in a Northern Boozer in Manchester, Early Doors is a sitcom with a small selection of witty characters. It is a fly on the wall type show which is packed full with realism, witty dialogue and lovable, complete characters who all add something special to the show. It is one of the most relaxing shows I have ever seen and at 3 hours per season, time will fly by without you noticing whatsoever.

    The assemble of characters is what makes this show so memorable as they are all perfectly created and the actors/actresses are selected with faultless precision. You have the barman Ken with his adopted daughter Mel and his Mother, his Mothers cleaner and friend, the old miserable man who doesn't like conversation or to be involved in anything and who is angry at the world. The best friend men in dead end jobs who have marriage problems, the table of gossiping women, out for free drinks, looking to cop off and the oddball couple who have a heart of gold but are ultimately social outcasts, although they are still loved by everybody! There are also a couple of on- duty bent coppers who regularly appear for free drinks in return for 'law enforcement'. Other characters come and go but that is your main group and it works perfectly!

    Early Doors taps in to the concept that the average person who is working class, visits the boozer night after night to drink the cheapest beer they can find and smoke their nights away, is more than happy to see the same people every night and talk about unimportant things, often repeated daily. Runnings jokes are common in this show and they make it all the funnier, it doesn't get boring or repetitive, it's simply realistic and hilarious. The temporary traffic light joke is a prime example of this!

    Craig Cash writes and stars in this and he does it in complete comedy gold. Not much happens in each episode, nothing needs to happen really. All you need is good dialogue, witty sarcastic banter and a sense of working class realism to make it feel authentic and special. Craig Cash masters this perfectly. You could say it's the Royle Family in a pub, or Phoenix Nights without Peter Kay. I would say it's neither as it has its own style and is strong enough to stand on its own as a British Classic, an overlooked gem which sadly doesn't get the recognition that it truly deserves.

    10/10
  • comment
    • Author: Hulbine
    For some reason which is not really explained the Licencee Ken, who is an excellent character, shouts this in every episode and anyone withing hearing replies, " I wish I was there " Unfortunately this class comedy has only been shown on BBC 2, a minor terrestrial channel. It deserves showing on the main BBC 1 channel so that the British public can fully appreciate it. It will then get the credit it so richly deserves. Others have accurately described the programme so I think i should comment on the two Policemen who scive in the back room of the pub. I don't know what the Police Force is like these days but a few years ago these two officers, although a little OTT, would be more representative of normal Policemen than in all specialist Police programmes.
  • comment
    • Author: Androrim
    I really wanted to like this. Much of it is good and the cast are all very able and convincing as the characters that they play.John Henshaw who plays Ken the landlord was fantastic as Roy in The Cops and here he seizes the part with both hands and shines throughout.However, much of this series was boring and repetitive. From Episode 1 we know Tommy is mean and miserable,the lazy cops always call, Eddie is obsessed with temporary traffic lights,Ken's mother is insane and a total gossip and so on.There was a kind of sub plot running through the series about Ken's daughter meeting her natural father but this threatened to get all emotional and out of step with the humour.The last episode where the pub regulars have a lad's day out was hilarious.Not in the same league as the Royle Family which Craig Cash also co-wrote but despite its failings it is still streets ahead of much of the guff that claim to be sitcoms on UK TV.
  • Series cast summary:
    John Henshaw John Henshaw - Ken 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Rita May Rita May - Jean 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Mark Benton Mark Benton - Eddie 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Craig Cash Craig Cash - Joe 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Rodney Litchfield Rodney Litchfield - Tommy 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Lorraine Cheshire Lorraine Cheshire - Joan 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Phil Mealey Phil Mealey - Duffy 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    James Quinn James Quinn - Phil 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Peter Wight Peter Wight - Nige 12 episodes, 2003-2004
    Christine Bottomley Christine Bottomley - Melanie 11 episodes, 2003-2004
    Susan Cookson Susan Cookson - Tanya 11 episodes, 2003-2004
    Joan Kempson Joan Kempson - Winnie 9 episodes, 2003-2004
    Lisa Millett Lisa Millett - Debbie 9 episodes, 2003-2004
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