Grundy by name…

Jean Grundy on her husband Bill

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 17 December 1961

PEOPLE who know how long I’ve known Bill Grundy often ask me what the man is really like.

Has he always been as aggressive and dogmatic as he is in front of the television camera, they want to know. Is that hard-bitten exterior something that has grown on him in recent years? And does a heart of gold beat under it?

Well, a heart of gold he may have. But Grundy doesn’t change much, on or off the screen. He’s been that way ever since I first met him 15 years ago. And I expect he always will be.

It’s fatal, for instance, to be in a car with him.

If you’re driving, I’ll guarantee your driving will disintegrate within minutes. He won’t say anything. He’ll just sit there, watching you. He has a naturally critical presence, I suppose.

It’s even worse when he’s driving — if you’re one of those normal, sane, sensitive souls who hates scenes that is. He’s a good driver, but there’s nothing he enjoys more than a raucous argument with another driver in the middle of a traffic jam.

Jean hammers in a nail watched by Bill
“His family don’t bother asking him to do odd jobs any more”

Just let someone turn right without giving a signal, or stop without warning, or cut in front of him! Down goes the window, and within seconds Grundy is in full flood.

Dinner with Grundy is another perilous experience. He’s an expert on wine, you sec. Pity the wine-waiter who doesn’t know his wine when he’s dealing with Grundy! He’ll argue for hours about it, completely oblivious to your rapidly cooling dinner. I think he would rather argue about it than drink it.

Grundy, Jean, four boys, a girl, a cat and a dog
Victorian-type father Grundy with his family

He’s mean, too.

Not about big things, of course. He will spend pounds buying a present for someone, but he can get positively delirious with delight if he thinks he’s got something twopence cheaper than the market price.

And then, of course, there are the children. He has five — four boys and a girl.

They all adore him. I can’t think why. He’s a real Victorian father to them.

I think he gets round them by taking them for long walks, and telling them about soil and things. That’s one advantage of being a geologist, I suppose.

He buys them things, too. He bought eight-year-old Nicholas a microscope the other day. Poor Nicholas. I could have told him what would happen. Now he can’t get near the thing when his father’s around.

I shudder to think what’s going to happen when he buys them the electric train set he is promising them this Christmas. I expect that within minutes of its assembly, the household will be subjected to dissertations on railway technique by Station Master Grundy.

Bill shouts from a car window
“… there’s nothing he enjoys more than a raucous argument with another driver in a jam”

He’s hopeless around the house, by the way.

He won’t admit it, but he is. His family don’t bother asking him to do odd jobs any more. Get him to knock a nail in the wall? Bill will be happy to do it. But no one can guarantee the result.

Shattered plaster, bent nails, bruised thumbs and frayed tempers — take your pick. They’re all equally likely. And whose fault do you think it will be that things go wrong?

You’ve guessed it. The children’s, or the manufacturers of “inferior” nails. Even the hammer isn’t above reproach.

Mending the fuse is a positive adventure with him. He understands the mechanics of the thing, of course. He does with most things.

But he’ll probably lose the screws, and everyone within range will be enlisted to crawl round the floor looking for them. Never mention wallpaper to him. He’s liable to be rude.

He decided to paper his own bathroom some time ago, you see. He got four lengths on the walls, and then found that he couldn’t match them up.

He wouldn’t admit defeat, needless to say. He spent 12 months pretending to his friends that he hadn’t time to get down to the job, before finally getting a professional decorator in to finish it off.

Bill and two boys with a microscope
Nicholas would like to get as close as William to that microscope Dad bought him – even have a go with it himself

All the handywork around his house is done by his father, the older Bill, who carries it out with a sort of scornful Grundy-like urbanity which must annoy Bill considerably.

It was Bill’s father, for instance, who turned the tennis court at the back of the Grundy home into a miniature football pitch. As soon as the work was done, the young Bill took charge of it.

Now, every Sunday, he organises a football match with the children.

He’s captain, of course, and he refuses to play in goal. He used to play on the wing for the Navy and for Manchester University, you know, and he insists on playing in that position now. He fancies himself as a sort of latter-day Bobby Charlton, I suppose.

Yes. Grundy’s pretty insufferable, on and off television. And what makes it worse is that he is really quite soft underneath it all.

You have to know what makes Bill tick, you see. Argument is a disease with him.

He’ll argue about anything. He’ll even argue when he knows he’s wrong — just for the hell of it.

I think I’ve got the best way to deal with the man when he gets like that, though, I just put out my tongue at him. It works like a charm.

Still, I suppose that tf anyone ought to know how to deflate the man, I should — for my name is Grundy, too — Jean Grundy.

I’ve been happily married to Bill for 15 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *