Posted: 03/01/2011


In Loving Memory - Series One

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Billy the Nephew is who does it for me in In Loving Memory, Series One, a story about a caretaker and his wife who have been running a funeral home for years in what is called the fictional town of Lancashire in 1929. Then unexpectedly the undertaker dies, leaving his widow and her nephew to run the business.

The ironic part is that the undertaker’s death was due to one of the naïve and clumsy nephew’s mistakes—he was transferring a body to the church, and the casket flew out of the hearse and into a nearby creek, where it bobbed around for days, until the coast guard eventually found it. When the undertaker went to fetch the body, he met his demise in an unfortunate accident. He stipulated in his will that his wife Ivy would only inherit the business and his estate if she allowed his sister (whom no one had ever seen) to live in the house also

After letting the sister live in the house for a couple days and after answering her every beck and call, the sister thought she saw an angel in the attic (it was really the aunt who had mistakenly locked herself in the attic and had only a pair of wings from an old costume for warmth). The sister was so spooked she ran from the house, never to be seen again.

So, it’s up to Billy and Aunt Ivy to run the funeral business. But the aunt tries to play cupid by encouraging Billy to find a woman, and she sends him off to this dance, after a trying conversation with him where she thought he was going to come out the closet. But he was merely trying to tell her that women didn’t like men like him—men who dig graves for a living.

He has some success in meeting a girl, only to have it derailed by another woman who has the hots for him and comes by his house uninvited. But she just doesn’t come at tea time; she intrudes upon Billy, just as his mother has left to borrow a liniment from the neighbors, after Billy gets drenched out in the rain. So, he’s sitting there in the tub right in the middle of the floor, trying to hide his body from the uninvited visitor.

In Loving Memory Series One is available March 1 on a two-disc set from BFS Entertainment and Multimedia Limited. It’s a classic British comedy series that depicts the hilarious events that occur in an undertaker’s business. Whether dealing with stray coffins, local busy bodies, dishonest rivals or faulty hearses, Ivy always manages to cope, while Billy’s best intentions usually end in laughable disaster.

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Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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