The Rag Trade

The Rag Trade is a British television sitcom broadcast by the BBC between 1961 and 1963 and by LWT between 1977 and 1978.

The scripts were by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney, who later wrote Wild, Wild Women, Meet the Wife and On the Buses. Wild, Wild Women was a period variation of The Rag Trade.

The action centred on a small clothing workshop (the title refers to the textile industry), Fenner’s Fashions in London. Although run by Harold Fenner (Peter Jones) and Reg Turner the foreman and pattern cutter (Reg Varney), the female workers are led by militant shop steward Paddy Fleming (Miriam Karlin), ever ready to strike, with the catchphrase “Everybody out!” Other cast members included Sheila Hancock (as Carole Taylor), Esma Cannon (as Lily Swann), Wanda Ventham (as Shirley) in series 2 and Barbara Windsor (as Gloria) in series 1 and (as Judy) in series 3 replacing Sheila Hancock.

The Rag Trade was revived by ITV company LWT in 1977, with Jones and Karlin reprising their roles. The 1977 version ran for two series, most of the scripts being based on the BBC episodes from the 1960s, and featured Anna Karen (reprising her role as Olive from On the Buses) and future EastEnders star Gillian Taylforth as factory workers.

The theme tune for the LWT series was written and performed by Lynsey De Paul.

In 1990 the series was remade as the series Fredrikssons Fabrikk by NRK in Norway, it ran for three season (1990–93) (17 half hours and one 45min special) and spawned a film version Fredrikssons Fabrikk – The Movie in 1994 with a script credited to Chesney and Wolfe, and Norwegian series writer Andreas Markusson.

DVD Release

Because of the BBC’s wiping policy of the 1970s, of the 36 episodes made only 17 (of the original 23) episodes of the first two BBC series (1961–62) still exist in the BBC archives, all 13 episodes of the third (and final) BBC TV series (1963) and the ‘Christmas Night with the Stars’ sketch (1962) do not exist.

Only 8 of the 10 existing episodes of the first BBC TV series, broadcast in 1961, were released on DVD (DD Home Entertainment) in March 2006, the other two episodes (episodes 7 and 9 of series 1) were not included as DDHE thought the prints were of such poor quality.

All 9 existing episodes, of the second BBC TV Series, broadcast in 1962, were released on DVD (DD Home Entertainment) in October 2006. The film recording prints used are of a uniformly poor quality throughout this set.

All episodes of Series 1 and 2 of the (1977/1978) LWT version of the series, including the 1977 Christmas special, have been released on DVD by Network.

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