The Rag Trade

The Rag Trade

Created by Chesney and Wolfe

Peter Jones
Miriam Karlin
Series 1-3 (BBC):

Series 4-5 (LWT):

No. of series 5
No. of episodes 58
Producer(s) Dennis Main Wilson (BBC)
Bryan Izzard (LWT)
Running time 30 minutes per episode
Original network BBC
Original release First run:
6 October 1961 –
30 March 1963
Second run:
11 September 1977 –
20 October 1978

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 fictional 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 seasons (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.

Episode list

On original transmission many early episodes of The Rag Trade were not given titles so some are from production notes and repeat screenings.

Original BBC TV series

Series 1 (1961)

(8 episodes exist)

  1. The Baby: Fenner is far from happy when factory girl Brenda (Ann Beach) brings her baby to work.
  2. Getting Married: Paddy must find Carole a wedding dress.
  3. Early Start: Fenner finds himself up against new factory Parks & Spicer
  4. The French Fashions: Carol stands for a modelling competition
  5. The Sample: Paddy gives Carol a dress to go on a date with, but soon realises the dress was specially made for a customer
  6. Unhappy Customer: Fenner bans food in the workroom when an unhappy customer complains about Fenners Fashion
  7. Fenners Fashion stands to win a contract with the biggest clothes store in London
  8. Doctor’s Orders: Fenners Fashion are hired to design TV costumes
  9. The Italian Designer: To win a contract with a female buyer Reg masquerades as Roberto, an Italian designer.
  10. The Golliwogs (now re-titled Christmas Box for DVD): In a bid to make more money for Christmas, Paddy and the girls go behind Fenner's back and start working for another company making Golliwogs

Series 2 (1962)

(11 episodes exist)

  1. The Thief: There's a thief at Fenners Fashion and Paddy is determined to find out who
  2. The Dog: Lily's dog runs riot at Fenners Fashion
  3. Locked In: Reg gets locked in the workroom just as an inspector arrives
  4. The Flat: With Fenner still in Amsterdam, Paddy and Reg are given the task of painting his flat
  5. Paddy and Carol take the day off but soon find themselves in trouble when Fenner unexpectedly returns (This episode has been lost)
  6. An important rich client is coming to Fenners Fashion and the girls decide to take him out for the day
  7. Stay-In Strike: Fenner's new assistant forces the staff to go on strike
  8. The Fish And Chip Shop: Reg and Paddy argee to take over a fish and chip shop (This episode has been lost)
  9. Safety Precaution: Fenner faces money troubles when Reg destroys a load of dresses
  10. Stainproofer: The girls end up ruining Fenners new coat and have to work fast to replace it
  11. Doctor: The arrival of a handsome doctor causes trouble for Fenner and Carol
  12. Barber’s Shop: When Fenner refuses the girls a raise, they decide to start running a laundry cleaning service from inside Fenner's Fashions, their source of dirty laundry coming from a barber shop owner.
  13. The Bank Manager: A bank manager threaten to close Fenners Fashion

Christmas Night with the Stars

25 December 1962 - featured a The Rag Trade short sketch. (Has been lost)

Series 3 (1963)

(All 13 episodes are lost)

  1. The Australian: Fenner and Paddy try to find Reg a woman
  2. Triplets: Reg's lies over his tax forms come back to haunt him
  3. The Budgie: Fenners hires Reg's mother as his new assistant
  4. The Baby Sitter: Reg's mother causes trouble amongst the workforce
  5. Second Mrs. Fenner: Fenners wedding anniversary proves to be eventful
  6. Chef’s Special: Reg and Judy's engagement sends shock waves through Fenners Fashion
  7. The Italian Bit: Judy accuses Reg of having an affair
  8. Baby Dolls: Fenner becomes obsessed with horse racing
  9. After The Ball: Fenner has to pretend Judy is his daughter when they go to represent Fenners Fashion at a ball
  10. The Engagement Ring: Reg and Judy's engagement party is ruined when the engagement ring is stolen
  11. Crocodile Tears: Fenner finds himself in debt with only the girls to help him
  12. National Productivity Year: Paddy's job is on the line when another strike attempt sadly backfires
  13. The American Buyer: Reg and Judy reveal their plans to leave Fenners Fashion

LWT re-launch series

Series 4 (1977)

  1. Stay-In Strike: A new arrangement in the workroom sparks off confrontation between Fenner and Paddy
  2. The Sample: Kathy steals a new dressing gown to impress her new boyfriend
  3. Fixing The Rate: Fenner becomes obsessed with Time and Money, giving Paddy an idea of money making
  4. The Lunch Problem: When Fenner refuses to open a canteen, the girls decide to run their own canteen
  5. The Export Order: Fenner's Fashion is falling fast and Fenner is determined to make some changes
  6. The Italian Line: A handsome Italian threatens to drive everyone out of Fenner's Fashion
  7. Olive’s Baby: The staff go on strike in a bid to help Oliver look after his son
  8. The Wedding Dress: Fenner discovers the work force are making their own clothes
  9. The Sideline: Paddy gets attacked by a dishonest man and struggles to hold the workforce together
  10. The Guv’nor’s Wife: Mrs Fenner's dreams of meeting Margaret Thatcher land Fenner's Fashion in trouble
  11. The New Girl: Fenner's new assistant takes a shine to the girls
  12. The Bet: The workforce decide to make their own money on horse racing
  13. The Accident: Fenner's Fashion faces closure when an inspector is injured whilst touring the factory
  14. The New Brother: A diligent new Indian employee finds himself a victim of the girls' jokes

Christmas special (1977)

  1. Christmas Rush: The workforce are forced to work during the Christmas Holidays. Mrs Fenner returns to Fenner's Fashion.

Series 5 (1978)

  1. The Annual Ball: The creation of a dress for Mrs Fenner causes chaos at Fenner's Fashion
  2. The Leather Line: Another argument between Paddy and Fenner could cost Fenner's Fashion their best customers
  3. Stress: Fenner's attempt to secure a loan results in a heath scare
  4. A Bad Patch: Fenner has lost all his customers. The Girls think of a way of making money
  5. Come Back Paddy: Paddy leaves Fenner's Fashion for another firm
  6. Self-Defence: Paddy attempts of a defence program have disastrous consequences
  7. Fenner’s Folly: The possibility of a large order prompts Fenner to think about his future

DVD release

Because of the BBC's wiping policy of the era, of the 36 episodes made only 19 (of the original 23) episodes of the first two BBC series (1961–62) still exist in the BBC archives. None of the 13 episodes of the third (and final) BBC TV series (1963) and the "Christmas Night with the Stars" sketch (1962) have been found.

The 8 existing episodes of the first BBC TV series (broadcast in 1961) were released on DVD (DD Home Entertainment) in March 2006, followed by the 11 existing episodes of the second BBC TV Series (broadcast in 1962), released on DVD in October 2006.

All episodes of series 1 and 2 of the (1977–78) LWT version of the series, including the 1977 Christmas special, have been released on DVD by Network.

See also


    External links

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