As Time Goes By (TV Series) - Plot


Second Lieutenant Lionel Hardcastle (Geoffrey Palmer) and Middlesex Hospital Nurse Jean Pargetter (Judi Dench) met in the summer of 1953 or 1954 (depending on the episode) and fell in love, but when Lionel was sent to Korea they lost touch. Jean didn't receive his letter from Korea, and so each assumed the other had lost interest. After his war service, Lionel emigrated to Kenya to become a coffee planter. While there, he married Margaret, whom he later divorced on the grounds of "mutual boredom," after which he returned to England. During this time, Jean married and had one child, Judith. After her husband's death, Jean opened "Type for You," a secretarial agency. Judith Hanson (Moira Brooker) marries and divorces twice (once to "Ken," who had "sad eyes", and "Edward," who was "very clever"). During most of the series, Judith lives with her mother, for whom she also works at the secretarial agency.

Thirty-eight years after Lionel and Jean met, Lionel, now in England, hires a typist through the secretarial agency "Type for You" to finish his book My Life in Kenya, unaware Jean owns the agency. When Jean and Lionel recognise each other, their romance gradually rekindles over many months. In the third season, Lionel moves into Jean's house in Holland Park, London, and they marry during the following season.

In the first season, Judith develops a crush on Lionel, while Lionel's publisher, Alistair Deacon (Philip Bretherton), takes a similar interest in Jean. Both crushes are brief, and eventually Judith and Alistair fall for each other and, in the final season, marry. Other plotlines feature Lionel being asked to write an American TV mini-series, Just Two People, based on his early romance with Jean. The mini-series fails after one episode. Jean eventually retires from "Type For You," and later volunteers at a charity shop.

Jean's very efficient secretary and Judith's best friend is Sandy (Jenny Funnell), who eventually moves in with the Hardcastles after splitting with her boyfriend Nick. After Jean's retirement, Sandy becomes a manager at "Type For You". Sandy dates Harry (David Michaels, later replaced by Daniel Ryan), a policeman and rugby player, whom she marries at the end of the series. Other notable characters include: Lionel's father, Rocky (Frank Middlemass), who owns a large country house in Hampshire, which he later gives to Lionel; the housekeeper, Mrs. Bale (Janet Henfrey), who has an unusual interest in the Shipping Forecast, and the gardener, Lol Ferris (Tim Wylton). Rocky marries Madge (Joan Sims) when he is 85 and she is 78, and they often travel around the world. In Series Nine, Madge is mentioned as being on an archaeological dig in Egypt; in reality Joan Sims died before filming began. Jean's first husband's neurotic sister Penny (Moyra Fraser), who always calls Jean "Poor Jean", and Penny's dentist husband, Stephen (Paul Chapman), who once accidentally declined the OBE, also make many appearances.

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