Julia Hills  
   
2 Point 4 Children

The Refuge

Ladies in Charge

 

 

 

 

Julia is probably best known by the viewing public as the iconic man-eating Rona in 56 episodes of the hugely popular BBC primetime sitcom 2 Point 4 Children which ran on BBC 1 throughout the 1990s.

Dog Day Afternoon

A sometimes surreal and always original series written almost single handedly by Andrew Marshall, it followed the trials and tribulations of the Porter family and their friends (including Bill’s best friend Rona) for 8 series ending with a Millennium Christmas Special at the end of 1999.

Julia's Publicity Photograph

Tragically and unexpectedly this proved to be the last episode ever made as, soon after it was transmitted, the brilliantly funny Gary Olsen, who played Ben Porter the child/man father of the family, was diagnosed with cancer and died far too young only a few months later. The world lost a great actor and a true clown.

Series 8 Episode 4

The series stands as a testament to his talent and has been hailed by critics and fans as “one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time”.

Alongside Gary it starred Belinda Lang as his wife Bill and John Pickard as his son David and both Clare Woodgate and then Clare Buckfield as his daughter Jenny.

Series 6 Episode 3

It has been compared with the contemporary American series of the time, “Roseanne”, which also followed the adventures of a working family trying to make ends meet.

Ben ran his own plumbing business from the back of his van with his sarcastic assistant Christine (Kim Benson), and Bill and Rona eventually set up their own catering business which took them into many different and comic situations.

 

 

2 Point 4 Children

Other memorable predicaments included Rona and Bill trapped in Rona’s kitchen with Julia suspended from a light fitting in a wedding dress and Belinda stuck with her head through the cat flap.

Bird on a Wire

This situation was almost repeated in another episode when the two girls were trapped clinging to a bookcase for an entire episode, paralysed with fear by a Cobra in the living room!

The Porter’s world was frequently turned upside down due to bizarre occurrences and bad luck which led to highly imaginative story lines and, occasionally, sumptuous costumes and surreal fantasy sequences, such as when Bill and Rona stumbled on Shirley Bassey’s wardrobe collection and had to try most of the frocks on whilst singing one of her famous numbers.

 

The whole family were once found dressed as the Spice Girls in a shopping precinct, with Ben proving to be a particularly sullen “Baby Spice”, and they all spent an entire Christmas Special as stowaways on board the cruise ship The Oriana alongside Ben’s sister Tina played by Sandra Dickinson.

Spicegirls

Andrew Marshall wrote virtually every one of the 56 episodes of his series, although a few episodes in series seven were penned by Paul Alexander, Simon Braithwaite and Paul Smith once Andrew had taken on the extra responsibilities of Executive Producer.

Of the 56 episodes, 6 were Christmas Specials, which became known for their annual and often glamorous musical numbers performed by the cast themselves.

 Relax-ay-Voo

Eureka Video has also commented on the show on their website, saying:

“Sitcom-wise, the shape of the series itself is different from the norm because, from the earliest episodes, it has centred not on the husband, Ben, but on his wife Bill.

Even with the focus on Bill, the series still avoids the traditional woman-as-wife-and-mother theme of other series, instead portraying her as a fully-rounded person in her own right, unconfined by her family”.

 

 

 

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