The creator of TV’s most famous landlord, the miserly and pompous Rigsby, has died.

Eric Chappell (pictured, below), who penned the classic sitcom Rising Damp, worked for the local electricity board in the East Midlands while trying unsuccessfully to become a published writer before his breakthrough play, The Banana Box, was picked up by Yorkshire Television.

The play was inspired by a newspaper article about a black man who stayed at a hotel for a year without paying after telling them he was a prince.

When it was turned into a sitcom (and later a film), the venue evolved from a hotel to a seedy run-down boarding house and the focus switched to the miserly landlord, originally played by Wilfrid Brambell.

The landlord’s name had to be changed to Rigsby from the original Rooksby after a landlord called Rooksby threatened legal action.

Social attitudes

Chappell’s comedy challenged social attitudes of the time to become one of the great British sitcom classics with Leonard Rossiter as the landlord Rigsby, Don Warrington as Philip Smith, Frances de la Tour as the lusted-after Miss Jones, and Richard Beckinsale as the medical student Alan Moore.

Although Rossiter was notoriously difficult to work with and often dismissive of the scripts, he became a household name as the iconic Rupert Rigsby, in his holey cardigan, fantasising about past military glories and once believing that Miss Jones calling him a philistine was a compliment.

Rising Damp ran for four series in the 1970s, pipping Porridge, The Good Life and Rossiter’s other big hit, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, to the award for Best Sitcom at the 1978 Baftas.

Grantham-based Chappell went on to write a string of other hits, including Only When I Laugh, The Bounder, Duty Free and Home to Roost.

Pic credit: Youtube


  1. Huge credit to Eric Chappell for creating such a brilliant TV series which exposed the comedy acting genius of Leonard Rossiter. Though he looked like an old knacker on the show, Rossiter was an excellent squash player and keep fit enthusiast, much to my surprise.

  2. Many LL will be converting to become lodger LL.
    Live in a resi property once per month retains a home PPR.

    Lodgers aren’t subject to EPC or eviction regulations.
    So buy a 4 bed house to live in.
    No Mandatory HMO licence with 4 unrelated occupiers including the LL.

    The RFRA will apply.

    Of course few live-in LL will have suitable domestic circumstances.

    Therefore most live-in LL will only have 2 lodgers.

    But to avoid EPC requirements lodgers are a far more attractive form of tenure.

    There is NO law that requires a live-in LL to occupy a home so many days per month.

    More the resi insurance requirement to be absent from a home no more than 31 days per month.

    Having lodgers retains PPR relief.

    Having lodgers is a great way of making sustainable profits without all the problems of tenants.

    Of course potentially difficult to convert a BTL mortgage to a resi one

    But I’m sure many single LL could do this selling of other BTL properties.

    Reducing to say one 4 bed resi property with lodgers makes eminent business sense.

  3. Not to mention rent a room tax relief….what’s it up to £7000 a year or something.

    • Actually it is £7500 per year per property.

      Many live-in LL IGNORE RFRA anyway.
      HMRC even with Big Brother Connect computer DOESN’T bother searching for occupants at residential homes.

      Therefore effectively HMRC would do better as a matter of Govt policy to allow ALL lodger rent to be tax free.

      Doing this would encourage more homeowners to let out their spare rooms and greatly assist the shortage of accommodation.
      As most are ignoring the RFRA anyway why not just make it official!!


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