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TV Character Bios

(One Foot in the Grave)
 ( 4291
19 Riverbank Road
Mudeford, near Christchurch
Dorset, United Kingdom

Victor is a moody, temperamental, curmudgeon. He is 60 years old, a Virgo and recently made redundant [forced to retire as a security guard]. As he said “I’ve been replaced by a box... It’s standard procedure apparently for a man my age. The next stage is to stick you inside one.”

Victor Meldrew
Victor Meldrew the Grump

Margaret Meldrew, nearing her 60s, is Victor’s extremely patient wife of 34 years who now has to put up with her husband’s rants and raves since he no longer has a job to go to. On occasion, Victor finds employment (as a chauffeur, or a lollipop man or gardner, for example) but his bad attitude quickly gets him fired. Victor’s catchphrase is "I don't be-LIEEEEEEEVE it!!!"

The Meldrew’s family included a son named Stuart who died as a child; Margaret’s mother [died in 1993] and her god-daughter, Jennifer; Victor’s accident-prone brother, Alfred and cousin Geoffrey. The Meldrew’s friends included their next-door neighbors Patrick and Pippa Trench at 17 Riverbank Road [Victor‘s feuds with Patrick after a garden gnome incident]; the McVites, who replace the Trenches as neighbors when they moved in 1997; Nick Swainey [from 21 Riverbank Road], an age concern worker who looks in on Victor and his situation; April and Vince Bluett, owners of a seaside resort; Margaret’s gossipy friend Mrs. Warboys; and a pair of boring old friends, Ronnie and Mildred.

Meldrews & Neighbors
Margaret, Victor, Patrick and Pippa

During Victor’s retirement he contends with fears of death, hypochondria, being mugged, hernias and sunburned feet. In his spare time he takes art lessons drawing nude women, writing a situation comedy, playing with his ventriloquist dummy and reviving his old magic act. Margaret, on the other hand, dreams of traveling and joins an amateur dramatic society.

"Someone stood up for me on the bus today…looked at me as if I was some sort of living skeleton dangling from the rail."

In 2000, Victor is killed - run over by a hit and run driver - while returning from a failed school reunion (no one showed up). Strangely, a witch had predicted in 1995 that Victor would come to an untimely end.

Ironically, Margaret learns a few weeks later that her new friend, Glynis was responsible for running over her husband. A while later, a determined Victor returned as a ghost to haunt Margaret. Of course, he continued to rant an rave about everything, but the now widowed Margaret could not see nor hear anything her deceased husband had to do or say. Victor soon realized (a la the movie The Sixth Sense) that he was dead..."I don't believe it!"

Theme Song Lyrics
(Co-written and sung by Eric Idle)

Opening Tune

They say I might as well face the truth
That I am just too long in the tooth
So I'm an OAP and weak-kneed
But I have not yet quite gone to seed
I may be over the hill now that I have retired
Fading away but I've not yet expired
Clapped out, run down, too old to save
One Foot in the Grave

Closing Tune

They say I might as well face the truth
That I am just too long in the tooth
I've started to deteriorate
And now I've passed my own sell by date.

Oh I am no spring chicken it's true
I have to pop my teeth in to chew
And my old knees have started to knock
I've just got too many miles on the clock.

So I'm a wrinkly, crinkly, set in my ways
It's true that my body has seen better days
But give me half a chance and I can still misbehave
One Foot in the Grave,
One Foot in the Grave,
One Foot in the Grave.

*OAP means "Old Age Pensioner"

TRIVIA NOTE: The Meldrew’s originally lived at 37 Wyngate Drive ( 770301) but when they went on vacation to Athens their house was accidentally demolished. So popular was the Victor Meldrew character that after he died in the fall of 2000, fans of the show started laying flowers at Shawford Railway Station in Hampshire where the final scenes were filmed! To learn more about the Meldrew family, read the books One Foot in the Grave written by David Renwick (BBC Books, 1992); and One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1996).

Comedian Bill Cosby loosely adapted the series for an American audience in the retitled Carsey-Werner produced series COSBY/CBS/1996-2000. In the remake Cosby starred as Hilton Lucas, a man laid off from his job and Phylicia Rashad appeared as Ruth, his long-suffering wife. Cosby and Rashad had previously played husband and wife on the sitcom THE COSBY SHOW/NBC/1984-92.

The phrase "One foot in the grave" is attributed to the 1647 play The Little French Lawyer (act 1, scene 1) written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. Ancient Greek historian/biograoher Plutarch (circa 45-125 A.D.) stated in his work On the Training of Children the sentiment "An old doting fool, with one foot already in the grave."


Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew
Annette Crosbie as Margaret Meldrew
Doreen Mantle as Mrs Warboys
Owen Brenman as Nick Swainey
Angus Deayton as Patrick
Janine Duvitski as Pippa
Tim Brooke-Taylor as Derek McVitie
Marian McLoughlin as Betty McVitie
Jean Challis/
Barbara Ashcroft
as Mildred
Gordon Peters as Ronnie

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