Comedy TV: Jeeves & Wooster

Jeeves and Wooster opening titles

Opening titles of Jeeves and Wooster

As I’ve mentioned in my post, P.G. Wodehouse’s Beloved Characters: Jeeves and Wooster, the television series, Jeeves and Wooster, based on the stories by P.G. Wodehouse depicts the relationship and adventures of an English bachelor named Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves.

Summary

The Complete P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster DVD boxed set

The Complete P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster DVD boxed set

The television series Jeeves and Wooster ran during the early nineties (1990-93) and starred Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves. The comedic pair pulled off the performance very well and they are both very much their characters as the “mentally negligible” Bertie Wooster and the brilliant, coolheaded Jeeves.

The time period in which the stories and subsequent series is set during a rather picturesque England before World War II and contains themes of the Edwardian Era, notably the 1920’s and 1930’s.

The series came to run twenty-three episodes in total and it is readily available on DVD and VHS.

It was said in an interview with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry that near the series’ conclusion, the prospect of a spin-off film was speculated and they were asked their opinion, but both actors declined as they admitted that P.G. Wodehouse had left them with only so much material and it wouldn’t be right to make a story with the same characters but with a different story – in the most basic sense, it wouldn’t be pure Wodehouse humour, according to them. And I think that they did the right thing to decline such an offer.

The Bachelor and Valet’s Relationship

Bertie’s relationship with Jeeves is very optimistic and he is very grateful for his valet. Jeeves is his first honest valet, as previous valets in his employment stole things such as his silk stockings.

Due to the number of times Jeeves has to bale out Bertie from undesirable marital arrangements, when Bertie happens to, on the rare occasion, contemplate marriage and family, Jeeves often does all he can to stop such a notion. As described in one of the short stories contained in the omnibus Carry On, Jeeves, the valet has become rather protective and attached to his employer’s bachelor lifestyle and good company and he cannot bear the idea of being in co-employment with Bertie.

Characters

Stephen Fry as Jeeves (left) and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster (right)

Stephen Fry as Jeeves (left) and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster (right)

The list of characters isn’t complete and only contains certain characters such as the protagonists and other important figures that make a difference to Bertie’s existence.

Bertie Wooster

Bertie Wooster is a good egg and is well-meaning, but due to his unthoughtful ideas and his way of diving headfirst into situations, he is most often victim of undesirable arrangements and takes the blame of many mishaps that others created. He mostly relies on Jeeves for assistance, except for the few times when he is annoyed that Jeeves is more looked up to than he is – such as friends visiting his home to seek Jeeves’ advice and not his – and thus he takes his own measures, which often Jeeves has to iron out in the end.

Reginald Jeeves

Reginald Jeeves, or more commonly Jeeves, is the valet of Bertie Wooster and is described as a “gentleman’s gentleman.” Opposed to his employer, he has a wealth of information that he’s studied, read, and learned , all of which come to be useful in the series of dilemmas that he must solve for the sake of everyone’s happiness and satisfaction. He is also skilled in making remedies for things such as hangovers – this was the ticket to being employed by Bertie in th first episode – and due to his intelligence, he is held highly by many people, with a few exceptions, one of them being Aunt Agatha. When Bertie found out about Jeeves’ first name, he was rather surprised.

Aunt Agatha

Aunt Agatha is the one of the most prominent of Bertie’s aunts. She is forceful and has no regard for Bertie’s thoughts as she only sees him as an oaf and she doesn’t approve of Jeeves as she believes he is controlling her nephew’s life. Throughout the series (and stories) she attempts time and time again to engage Bertie into marriage, though every time she fails thanks to Jeeves’ intervention. Everyone – or should I say, mostly everyone – can breathe again once the menacing fiancée is out of the way of Bertie’s happiness.

Aunt Dahlia

Aunt Dahlia is described as a good sport by Bertie and she is his, perhaps only, favourite aunt as she actually seems to care for him and love him despite the several times he sometimes gets on her nerves, and she also has the excellent French cook Anatole in her service. Also unlike Aunt Agatha, she actually likes Jeeves, and really appreciates his intellect when she can’t rely on her nephew. She is the wife of Uncle Tom.
Anatole

Anatole is the superb cook at Brinkley Manor, which is where Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia and Uncle Tom live. While he has good cooking skills, he almost leaves Bertie’s relatives’ employment many times based on a number of a variety of factors, one of them being the time when the food was left virtually untouched (Hunger Strike), but he always comes back thanks to Jeeves. Aunt Dahlia is very particular about Anatole always returning as she says that Uncle Tom’s digestive system is very sensitive and particular and should Anatole give in his notice, Uncle Tom would have a fit as he believes that the only food he can eat has to be cooked by Anatole’s careful culinary skills.

Major Wannabe Brides (recurring throughout the series)

Honoria Glossop

She is one of the first young women to be engaged to Bertie by Aunt Agatha. She is robust, strong and tough, and more masculine than feminine: “He doesn’t hunt, shoot, fish…” (about Bertie’s character). She is the daughter of the loony doctor Sir Roderick Glossop and Mrs. Glossop and she has one younger brother, who’s often a brat. However, despite her masculinity she does soften up a bit and show more of her feminine side in later episodes.

Madeleine Basset

Next to Honoria, the most menacing girl on the planet, as far as Bertie is concerned, is Madeleine Basset. She has big eyes and has a lisp and talks about loads of “nonsense”, according to the characters and is referred to as “the-stars-are-God’s-daisy-chains” Basset and “that-God-help-us” Basset by Tuppy Glossop. The first is in reference to her wondering if the stars are God’s daisy chains and another of her famous speculations is that “every time a fairy blows its nose, a child is born.” As anyone can tell by her description…she’s painfully boring. She gains the affection of Gussie but all the while, Bertie is on the brink of disaster should something occur between her and Gussie with the result of her marrying Bertie.

Lady Florence Craye

Lady Florence Craye is another somewhat forceful woman, though slightly less so than Honoria, and she is also a writer and all of her books have critical success. She gains the jealousy of Stilton Cheesewright due to her flaunting between the affections of him and Bertie. Every time something goes wrong with one of her relationships, Bertie is in danger of being engaged to her, which he strongly doesn’t want to happen, and it usually takes all that Jeeves has got to throw Florence off the notion – even if it means drastic measures on Bertie’s part.

Of course, there are other women whom Bertie has been engaged to and some of these women also seek his affections, but the three listed above, I think, are probably the most prominent and looming “menaces” in regards to Bertie’s bachelor lifestyle.

There is a large array of characters throughout the series, some recurring and some only specials, but all of them have their own wit and personalities and the quirks that come with their personalities.

See a full list of characters here, including a list of episodes.

Episodes

Click on the highlighted episodes for more information. [under construction]

  1. Jeeves Takes Charge
  2. Tuppy and the Terrier
  3. The Purity of the Turf
  4. The Hunger Strike
  5. Brinkley Manor
  6. Jeeves Saves the Cow-Creamer
  7. A Plan for Gussie
  8. Pearls Means Tears
  9. Jeeves in the Country
  10. Kidnapped!
  11. Jeeves the Matchmaker
  12. Bertie Sets Sail
  13. The Full House
  14. Introduction on Broadway
  15. Right Ho, Jeeves
  16. Hot Off the Press
  17. Comrade Bingo
  18. Return to New York
  19. The Once and Future Ex
  20. Bridegroom Wanted!
  21. The Delayed Arrival
  22. Trouble at Totleigh Towers
  23. The Ties That Bind

See a little preview of the first episode, Jeeves Takes Charge, below. This is the scene where Jeeves makes his first appearance and enters Bertie’s employment after curing him of a massive hangover.

See Also

P.G. Wodehouse’s Beloved Characters: Jeeves and Wooster

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