History Of Spatz


Grant Cathro tells of how, while mixing acting and writing, he met Lee Pressman: Got involved in writing sketches for a kids’ TV show called Words Words Words (Thames). At the rehearsals for this I met Lee Pressman, who had just been given a commission to write a 10-part comedy. We hit it off at once, he asked me to collaborate – the result was T-Bag, and it ran for almost ten years! Lee and I became flavours of the decade at Thames TV, ‘coz T-Bag was such a monster hit, and when Alan Horrox took over the department (around 1987 I think) he really championed the pair of us (which was blooming marvellous) and gave us no end of opportunities to flex our muscles. Spatz was one of the shows he offered to us. A guy called Andrew Bethell had devised Spatz as a teen drama, a soap, really. Alan didn’t think that would play. He decided it sounded more like a sitcom. So he bought the title and the concept off Andrew and handed the whole project over to Lee and me to develop as a comedy. Continued below.



Spatz Series 1 Episode Guide


Grant Cathro says: Being quite a big-cast-high-budget show, it needed to be made as a co-production. Suddenly we were both stuck in a windowless room with a Canadian writer called Terry Saltsman, trying like mad to find common ground. If Series One is kind of uneven - and it is - it’s because we were pretty much making it up on the hoof. Other writers submitted scripts which the three of us tore to shreds and almost entirely rewrote. This is the North American way with ‘team writing’ - Lee and I never really took to it. But we did our best to battle through what was a pressureful (but stimulating) time.

All Series 1 episodes were first shown on Wednesdays at 4:40pm, and lasted 25 minutes.

Note: I’ve included both the official episode summaries, and memories of the episodes which were kindly been sent to me by visitors.


1.1 Royal Visit

First shown 21/02/90. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘It’s opening day at Spatz, London’s latest fast-food sensation. But with only 4 hours to go, the manager, TJ Strickland, has much on his plate: the building is half finished and short-staffed, and Mrs. Frapelli, the owner’s wife, is about to arrive for the grand ribbon-opening ceremony featuring no ribbon and nothing to cut it with. Yet there’s even more chaos on the menu when an uninvited guest turns up and tries to put a squeeze on the festivities.’

Guest cast:

Dave AtkinsMorris

Also been in The Bill, Bergerac, Lovejoy

James LondonGilbert

Kate HarperMrs. Frapelli

Also been in Space Precinct, Bergerac, Batman


1.2 Sound Of Muzak

First shown 28/02/90. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Heavy metal man Vince Powers quickly changes his tune when he realises that the girl he’s got a crush on, Chloe, is a Mozart freak. Music of another sort is driving the staff out of their minds – it’s the brain-numbingly jolly Spatz jingle which Karen has had committed to a loop tape and insists on playing all day long. Meanwhile a customer called Mr. Fox loses his wallet at the same time as Vince becomes inexplicably well-off.’

Spatz takes on a new employee, Toni Gordon, in this episode.

Stephen summarises the episode as follows: A man complains that he has lost his wallet in the restaurant and Karen is convinced that Vince stole it. She has no evidence of this, but simply doesn’t like him. She ends up sacking him, and then it turns out that it was actually Karen who had taken the wallet! The man gets his wallet back, none the wiser to all the trouble and mayhem he has caused, and Karen is forced to say those two little words ‘I’m sorry’ to Vince. Who, of course, milks this for all its worth!’

Joseph recalls that during Vince’s absence, Karen hires an inferior worker who hands out too much change.

Guest cast:

Samantha Janus Toni Gordon

Also been in The Bill, EastEnders, Babes In The Wood

Julia SawalhaChloe Fairbanks

Also been in Press Gang, Absolutely Fabulous

John RapleyMr. Fox

Also been in Goodnight Sweetheart, The Avengers, White Hunter Black Heart

Watch a 6:46 clip from this episode on YouTube


1.3 Toni’s Tall Tale

First shown 7/03/90. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Toni Gordon is a girl with a problem. Two problems, actually: one, her mother and two, her father. The reason? In a moment of crisis and low self-esteem she wrote and told her Scottish parents that she’s been promoted to the position of manager at Spatz. When Mr. and Mrs. Gordon unexpectedly turn up, Toni’s forced to take control of the situation – and the restaurant. Meanwhile, Dexter loses all control in his bid to be the first employee to sell 500 hamburgers and win a corporate trip to Paris.’

Guest cast:

Samantha Janus Toni Gordon

Jenny Lee Mrs. Gordon

Also been in Holby City, Hot Metal

Jake D’Arcy Mr. Gordon

Also been in Hamish Macbeth, Lovejoy, The Bill, Gregory’s Girl

Mary Duddy Nun

Also been in The March, The Temptation Of Eileen Hughes

Jeremy Stockwell Customer

Also been in T-Bag, Kavanagh QC, The Infinite Worlds Of HG Wells

Simon Slater Mr. Peters

Also been in The Bill, Lovejoy, Casualty

Watch a 1:21 clip from this episode on YouTube


1.4 Karen’s Birthday

First shown 14/03/90. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Karen takes a tip from the Spatz Tokyo outlet and introduces an early morning exercise programme designed to keep the hard-pressed staff on their toes. After Karen has publicly humiliated Vince and Jo during one of the workouts, the duo get together and not only discover that it’s Karen’s birthday, but also that she has had a ‘nose job’. They decide to organise a knees-up their boss will never forget (including a birthday card with Pinocchio on and full of nose-related puns). Meanwhile, TJ is on crutches after pulling a muscle at the exercise class and now lives in horror at the prospect of letting down his hockey team.’

Jo Collins is introduced in this episode.

Guest cast:

Peter MacQueen Police Constable

Also been in Cover Her Face, Happy Families


1.5 Local Hero

First shown 21/03/90. Written by JD Smith

‘While Karen racks her brains dreaming up yet more publicity gimmicks, TJ’s much-derided first aid class gets a shot in the arm when Lily uses what she learnt to save a choking customer’s life. Karen quickly sees a chance for some free newspaper coverage and plans to exploit Lily’s heroic action for all its worth. There’s just one problem: Lily adamantly refuses to cooperate because her dad has no idea she’s working here and would be appalled if he did. But when did Karen ever take no for an answer?’

Guest cast:

Dennis Matsuki Mr. Quang

Also been in The Bill, The Professionals, Notting Hill

Bill Gavin Old Man

Also been in Boon, 2point4 Children, Staggered

Betty Romaine Old Woman

Also been in The Bill, Agony, Teenage Health Freak

Paul Bigley Customer

Also been in Shakespeare In Love, Men Behaving Badly, Ted & Ralph

Watch a 1:22 clip from this episode on YouTube


1.6 Death Of A Spatzman

First shown 04/04/90. Written by JD Smith

The title parodies Arthur Miller’s play Death Of A Salesman.

‘Dexter sets his sights high when TV soap star Cindy Stewart blows in for a bite at the restaurant. The question is, will she swallow fast-talking Dexter’s outrageous claim that he’s not really a greasy nobody but is in fact the son of the Senegalese ambassador? Meanwhile, TJ is having major paycheque problems when the central Spatz computer goes haywire and issues a grave announcement – that TJ is dead.’

Guest cast:

Emma DaviesCindy Stewart

Also been in Cambridge Spies, Boon, Doctors

Roland OliverTelephone Voices

Also been in The Bill, Eastenders, Holby City, Bad Girls


1.7 The Wild Brunch

First shown 11/04/90. Written by Vito Viscomi

‘A gang of teenage hoodlums starts hanging around the restaurant and Karen orders TJ to get rid of them. But when the self-styled Diablos return it’s with revenge on their minds. When it is revealed that Vince used to belong to the gang, his loyalties are sorely tested as he comes to wrestle with the problem.’

Guest cast:

Damien WilliamsLumpy

Neville Watson Blood

Also been in Terry On The Fence, The Comic Strip

Gavin WatsonTwister

Also been in The Bill, Swing, The Comic Strip

Nicholas GreenshieldsBoy

Also been in Cole

Gladis RobinsonOld Lady

Also been in The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, The Woman In White


1.8 Greenpieces

First shown 18/04/90. Written by David Joss Buckley

‘A protest group calling itself Planetwatch pickets the restaurant, ruining Karen’s quarterly profit figures. It may be friendly to the environment, but Planetwatch is downright hostile to Spatz – that is, until its ringleader Sebastian gets the hots for Jo. It takes a special package, sent from Granny Strickland to TJ, finally to give the protesters some food for thought.’

A very topical episode, in addressing environmentalist opposition to fast-food chains. Jo mentions an upcoming date with Sebastian at the beginning of the next episode.

Guest cast:

Jeremy GilleySebastian

Also been in Lovejoy, Bergerac

Chris SandersCustomer

Also been in Rumpole Of The Bailey

Andy LaycockCustomer

Also been in The Bill, Lipstick On Your Collar


1.9 Clowning Around

First shown 25/04/90. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘TJ conjures up a plan for Spatz to host kids’ parties and reckons he’s come up with a wizard scheme. But as usual (since it wasn’t her idea) Karen is deeply unimpressed and soon the whole enterprise seems doomed to failure. But when Head Office green-lights the project and commends TJ for his initiative, Karen sees red and decides to sink the party plan once and for all. Meanwhile, the staff work their magic on Stanley to get him ready for his first date.’

This was a visionary episode, tactfully addressing the problems of meeting people on the internet. There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.

Guest cast:

Chris LanghamMarvin The Magnificent

Also been in Roy Mallard, Kiss Me Kate, The Thick Of It

Clare Byam ShawPippa

Also been in Family Affairs, Bergerac, Casualty, Lord Elgin And Some Stones Of No Value

Jade MagriHenny

Also been in Mike & Angelo, The Nanny, The Orchid House

Zoë HodgesElektra

Also been in Virtual Sexuality, 84 Charing Cross Road


1.10 The Strike

First shown 25/04/90. Written by Wilson Coneybeare

‘The staff of Spatz is revolting. When Vince discovers that rival hamburger chain Blimpy’s is paying their staff 10p more an hour than Spatz, it’s a case of down with the pickle choppers and up with the workers when Karen lets it be known that she’d sooner throw herself into the deep fat fryer than pay them more money. Agitprop Sebastian is back to join the strike force and picket the scabs – and Jo gets to see her sweetheart in an altogether new light.’

The staff goes on strike and protests outside Spatz, forcing Karen and TJ to work behind the counter. They squabble, and Karen tries to fire the milkshake machine when it showers her in chocolate. You can listen the preview of this episode featured at the end of the previous show here.

Guest cast:

Jeremy GilleySebastian

Geoffrey BeeversCity Gent

Also been in Dalziel And Pascoe, Red Dwarf, Coronation Street

Ann WriggElderly Lady

Also been in Bless Me Father, To Serve Them All My Days


1.11 Sing For Your Supper

First shown 02/05/90. Written by Terry Saltsman

‘The staff are used to Karen calling the tune, but there’s dischord in the ranks when she instructs the staff to sing out the customers’ orders. Will Debbie and Derek ever make sweet music again, or will her hot date with good-looking Terry hit the right note?’

Guest cast:

Emile Charles Terry

Also been in Like It Is, The Fruit Machine, Red Dwarf & he’s Craig Charles’ brother

John Abbot Shop Manager

Also been in Kappatoo, Science Fiction Theatre, The Tempest


1.12 Smart Cookies

First shown 09/05/90. Written by Terry Saltsman

‘A battle of wits is in danger of escalating into an all-out war when TJ challenges Ivor Willis, the manager of Blimpy’s, to a friendly trivia quiz. With secret weapon Lily up their sleeve, the Spatz team is confident of blasting the Blimpettes clean out of the water – until Lily’s grandmother falls ill and she has to go away for the week. Meanwhile, Jo’s part-time jobs threaten to knock the stuffing out of her.’

Guest cast:

Paul GrunertIvor Willis

Also been in The Bill, Goodnight Sweetheart, Rumpole Of The Bailey

Jonathan ChaterBlimpy Boy

John WardProfessor Billy

Also been on Motormouth, GMTV, Kilroy – he’s an inventor


1.13 Bye Bye TJ

First shown 16/05/90. Written by Terry Saltsman

‘TJ gets promoted. It seems like great news, but the downside is he’s got to return to Canada (that’s somewhere just north of the USA). For Karen this is the upside; that is, until TJ’s replacement arrives, in the shape of Melvin Frapelli, slobbish and conniving nephew of the Managing Director. Even Karen’s got to admit that things were better before. But how to unseat golden boy Frapelli and reinstate Thomas Jefferson Strickland? That is the question. And it’s a sticky one.’

Ellis says: ‘The staff hold a Canadian theme party for TJ’s leaving bash, involving dressing as Mounties, moose etc. Jo swoops in to kiss TJ, and somehow manages to transfer her chewing gum, which he thanks her for, then spits out and gives back.’

Guest cast:

Dan RedicanMelvin Frapelli

Also been in Due South, The Twilight Zone

Stuart FoxMan

Also been in Casualty, The Vice, The Scarlet Pimpernel

Graham ChinnDelivery Man

Also been in The Bill, Lovejoy, Poirot



Spatz Series 2 Episode Guide


Grant Cathro says: The show did very well in the ratings and received a second series commission. This time it was not going to be a co-production but Thames TV’s own baby. Lee and I were given control over the whole thing. A few other writers contributed scripts, which, naturally, we tore to shreds and almost entirely rewrote ...

All Series 2 episodes were first shown on Thursdays at 4:40pm, and lasted 25 minutes.


2.1 Star Attraction

First shown 03/01/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘When new girl Freddy joins the crew, Dexter quickly takes her under his wing. The Williams’ silver tongue is quickly in top gear, and he shamelessly declares himself ‘friend of the stars’ ... however when Karen takes him up on his word and instructs him to invite his “best buddy” soccer superstar Gary Lineker to visit Spatz as a publicity gimmick, Dexter comes to realise he’s gone and put his foot in his mouth.’

When TJ asks what would happen to the 2000 specially-made badges if ‘Barry Binliner’ (Karen’s name for Gary Lineker) doesn’t show up, Karen replies, ‘Stick them into Mr. Namedropper downstairs!’ Thanks to Ellis for mentioning this.

Guest cast:

Rhys IfansDave

Also been in Notting Hill, Kevin And Perry Go Large, The 51st State

Jo UnwinMother

Also been in Press Gang, Casualty, Inspector Morse

Victoria ShaletGirl (Emily Jane Mudge)

Also been in The Queen’s Nose, The Bill, Jonathan Creek & is gorgeous  Picture

Matthew BoyerFan

Gary LinekerHimself

Also been in the England football team & TV adverts for Walker’s Crisps

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.


2.2 Karen’s Mother

First shown 10/01/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Karen finds herself on the horns of a dilemma when, in order to placate her pushy mother, she announces that she’s engaged to T J. Unfortunately TJ’s new girlfriend gets to hear about this unforgivable chicanery, and very soon the long claws are out – and slashing. Meanwhile, the new Spatz food delivery service (a.k.a. a clanking pushbike with a slipping chain) is driving the staff to distraction.’

This episode marked Lily’s only appearance in Series 2. It also featured the first appearance of Julie, TJ’s girlfriend.

Ellis remembers that this episode features a kiss between TJ and Karen, as they try to persuade Karen’s mother of their engagement! (Another occurs in the final episode, under the mistletoe, with TJ dressed as Father Christmas.) And also, that ‘in the course of this episode, TJ manages to be assaulted by both Julie (who I think smashes a vase over his head, believing him to be cheating on her with Karen) and Karen’s mother. He tells Karen that his convincing performance as her fiancé is deserving of an Academy Award.’

Guest cast:

Helen HortonNatalie Hansson

Also been in The Bill, T-Bag, The Benny Hill Show, Superman III

Catherine RussellJulie

Also been in Poirot, An Unsuitable Job For A Woman

Elizabeth StewartCustomer

Also been in Are You Being Served?


2.3 Time And Efficiency

First shown 24/01/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘A time and efficiency expert is called in to streamline the Spatz operation. The obsessive Mr. Pashby’s eyes rollout his head when he arrives at a particularly chaotic moment, and his recommendations prove to be horrendously far-reaching – horrendous for the staff, that is. So Vince and Dexter make some small amendments to Pashby’s report, which Karen insists are carried out to the letter by TJ – with surreal results. Amidst all this, love flourishes: Freddy and her building-site boyfriend, Dave, cement their relationship.’

This episode features the return of Dave, Freddy’s boyfriend, from Star Attraction.

Guest cast:

Alex BartletteMr. Pashby

Also been in T-Bag

Rhys IfansDave

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page, where links can also be found to YouTube clips from this episode.


2.4 The Poster

First shown 31/01/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Karen seeks advice from TJ on how to win herself a husband - but not just any old husband: she’s got her sights set at the top of the tree, for multi- millionaire Spatz tycoon Frapelli is in town ... and according to the grapevine, between wives at the moment. Behind the counter, there’s rivalry of another sort afoot, for head office has just announced a corporate competition to find the Ideal Spatz Employee, and soon poster fever runs rampant and friendships are forgotten.’

‘The staff are all completely shocked when one morning Karen walks in and is completely nice to everyone! She calls them her ‘angels’ and tells them to keep up the excellent work they are all doing. When TJ asks her why she is in such a good mood, she explains that Louis Frapelli, who is the owner of Spatz, is getting divorced from his wife, and Karen thinks that she is in with a chance of marrying him and becoming the ‘Second Lady of Spatz’. Also in the episode, there is a competition running where all the employees are in with a chance of starring in a promotional poster campaign, and the winner receives £200. The rivalry between the staff to win ends up driving them all apart (there’s a wicked cat fight between Debbie and Freddy!) but they make up in the end.’ Thank you very much to Stephen for this much-appreciated information, which describes this episode. Thanks to Ellis for remembering that also in this episode, ‘When Karen was hoping to be the next Mrs Frapelli, TJ advised her to serenade him outside his hotel window. She went along in a glamorous red dress and with a Spanish guitar, but ended up being savaged by guard-dogs.

Guest cast:

Kate Riding Angela

Also been in Brookside, Heartbeat

Clive RoweCoachdriver

Also been in The Story Of Tracy Beaker, The Honeytrap


2.5 Fire Alarm

First shown 07/02/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

 ‘Vince is absent, so TJ persuades his girlfriend Julie to replace him for the day. Sparks fly when Karen gets to hear about it, for she’s taken a personal dislike to the woman who’s ‘so wet there’s a salmon leaping up her dress’ and is determined to get her fired even quicker than she got started. And speaking of fires, there’s trouble smouldering when Karen’s new cheap and cheerful alarm system starts playing up.’

Ellis describes the episode as follows: ‘Karen set fire to the restaurant by jamming a bap in the toaster [while working late one night] - something a newspaper horoscope predicted she would do. She was rescued by TJ’s girlfriend, and emerged from the building carrying the fish tank.

Guest cast:

Catherine RussellJulie

Kenny IrelandJohnnie

Also been in Hamish Macbeth, House Of Cards, Drop The Dead Donkey

Denise CoffeyMildred

Also been in The Tomorrow People, T-Bag, Saving Grace

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.


2.6 The Siege

First shown 14/02/91. Story by David Joss Buckley. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘One by one, the staff and management of Spatz are mysteriously vanishing. But there’s nothing supernatural about the armed robber who finds himself having to take more and more people hostage in a failed robbery bid. The big question: is the Twitching Man really a dangerous armed robber, or is he just a jerk with a courgette for a gun?’

Guest cast:

Steve SteenThe Twitching Man

Also been in Press Gang, Blackadder The Third, The Suicidal Dog

Michael BertenshawTrevor

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, Doctors

George Sweeny The Inspector

Also been in The Bill, Return Of The Saint, Minder, The Sweeney

Amy Melhuish Girl

Also been in Casualty, B&B, Ball-Trap On The Cote Sauvage

Watch a 3:30 clip from this episode on YouTube

And a 2:57 clip


2.7 Debbie’s Wedding

First shown 21/02/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Wedding bells herald a ding-dong between Debbie and Derek, but the only bells Vince can hear are the ones ringing up a fat profit in his cash register shaped head. He stands to make a killing if he can persuade Debbie’s mother to let him handle the reception do. But first, he’s got to persuade Debbie’s mother to let her daughter get married in the first place.’

This episode missed being shown on Valentine’s Day by just a week!

Ellis says: ‘The catering was provided by Vince’s dad, with his burger cart. I also think this was the only episode that didn’t feature Karen at all (she was away at a conference in Spain).’

Guest cast:

Dona CrollMrs. Wesley

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Family Affairs

Sally SagoeMrs. Pewley

Also been in The Tomorrow People, EastEnders

Catherine RussellJulie

Gordon RimesBert

Trevor PeacockMr. Powers

Also been in T-Bag, The Vicar Of Dibley, Bugs, Mel Gibson’s Hamlet


2.8 Talent Contest

First shown 28/02/91. Story by Jim Eldridge. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘TJ incurs the wrath of Karen when he allows a local talent show to be staged at Spatz.’

Guest cast:

Allan CordunerRex

Also been in The Bill, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, Trust

Hermione NorrisWendy

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, Lucky Jim, Cold Feet

Sophie Okonedo Kim

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, Clocking Off, Spooks

Victoria ShaletEmily Jane Mudge

Tricia KellyMother

Also been in The Bill, Spin City, My Family

Seeta IndraniMarjorie

Also been The Bill, Casualty, Footballers’ Wives.  More info here.


2.9 Things That Go…

First shown 07/03/91. Story by David Joss Buckley. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

 ‘Weird happenings abound and the staff are freaking out. Can it be true? That the restaurant, built on the site of an ancient graveyard, is being haunted by spirits who have an aversion to the smell of fried onions? There’s only one way to find out - stage an all-night vigil. But tonight’s the night Karen and TJ are off to a fancy dress party...’


2.10 Charlie

First shown 14/03/91. Story by David Stafford. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘It never rains but it pours: on the day an important food critic’s arriving, the Spatz delivery van has got itself lost and now there’s no food to critique; Stanley’s pet ducklings are on the rampage; the electrical circuits have blown a fuse; Vince’s twin brother electrician doesn’t know an amp from a watt; and the mysterious lost boy called Charlie who’s right at the centre of it all, and who is lapping up the three ring circus, turns out to be the food critic’s son.’

The fact that David Stafford, normally in charge of music, wrote the story for this episode, suggests that working on Spatz was an involving and enjoyable experience for all concerned.

According to Ellis: ‘When TJ asks Charlie for his name, he gives it as Charlie M Hudson. “What’s the M for?” asks TJ. “It’s a motorway between London and Bristol,” comes the reply.’

Guest cast:

Michael BertenshawTrevor

Belinda Sinclair Mum

Also been in Casualty, Family Affairs, Heartbeat

Stephen PollardCharlie

Ian TalbotBuilding-Site Worker

Also been in Casualty, B&B, As Time Goes By


2.11 Loot

First shown 21/03/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘Everybody’s losing it today: Karen can’t find her contact lenses, the bank manager’s heart is gone completely to ‘The Magnificent Ms. Hansson’, and Freddy’s cool vanishes when she accidentally mislays £3000 of Spatz’s money. Not even intergalactic superhero Captain Electric (a man who has clearly lost his mind) can locate its whereabouts. Freddy decides to take drastic action by contacting a nefarious loan shark and borrowing another £3000 to satisfy the bank. Then she loses that, as well...’

Guest cast:

Duncan PrestonPeter Jonathan

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, Press Gang, Dinnerladies

Danny John JulesCaptain Electric

Also been in The Bill, Red Dwarf, The Tomorrow People

Anthony O’Donnell Danny Bunce

Also been in The Bill, T-Bag, Secrets And Lies

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.


2.12 From Russia With Love

First shown 28/03/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘The Russians are coming! - so hollers Karen when a delegation arrives from Moscow with a view to picking up the Spatz franchise and introducing the concept of food poisoning to the USSR. Desperate to impress the visitors, Karen is agog to find that TJ has gone to pieces. The reason? He’s just been given the heave-ho by Julie, and nothing can console him. Meanwhile, something smells decidedly off when Vince gets involved in some under-the-counter perfume deals, and an unlikely romance blossoms over the hot grill.’

The Cold War is over, darling! Dexter Williams will melt your heart!’ – Dexter to one of the delgates

Guest cast:

Libby Morris Nadia Kitchenko

Also been in Space Patrol, Casualty, Mike & Angelo

Joanna Roth Alexandria Kitchenko

Also been in Holby City, Boon, Sliding Doors

Campbell Morrison Boris

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, EastEnders, Eldorado

Megan Kelly Woman

Also been in T-Bag

Adrian Kay Customer


2.13 Takeover

First shown 04/04/91. Written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman

‘The staff of Spatz turn green, but not with envy: they’ve all become Blimpettes. The nightmare scenario has happened: inveterate gambler Louis Frapelli has been beaten in a poker game by rival restaurateur Roland Blimpy, and now the chips are down because Spatz was put up as the stake. A new colour scheme heralds the arrival of a new boss, the loathsome, gloating Ivor Willis, who takes a special delight in humiliating TJ by demoting him to humble onion chopper. However, Vince reckons there may yet be a way of turning the tables.’

Here is Joseph’s summary of the episode: ‘TJ lost a bet with the Blimpy’s manager and Spatz was turned into Blimpy’s; but then TJ made a bet – who could eat the most chocolate éclairs – and he won, and Spatz was brought back to its original state.’

This episode marked the return of local Blimpy manager Ivor Willis, and the first appearance of Derek, Debbie’s partner.

Guest cast:

James Saxon Roland Blimpy

Also been in T-Bag, Casualty, McCallum, Lovejoy

Paul GrunertIvor Willis

David HarewoodDerek Pewley

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, The Vice, Babyfather, A&E, Press Gang & had his own ITV1 ident.

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.



Spatz Series 3 Episode Guide


Grant Cathro says: By the time we got to series three, Lee and I (for better or for worse!) were writing all the scripts.

All Series 3 episodes were first shown on Fridays at 4:40pm, and lasted 25 minutes.


3.1 High Flier

First shown 28/02/92

‘Dexter sucks up to a customer and before you know it, has the offer of a high-flying new job: as delivery boy for B. Bumble’s Pizza Parlour. Meanwhile, Vince persuades Karen to buy up a ton of toy hamburgers as giveaway gifts, but omits to give away the fact that Mr. Bappy The Cheesy Chappy and his clockwork companions have just recently fallen off the back of a lorry.’


3.2 Witness

First shown 06/03/92

‘The betting shop across the mall [named Grant Lee Bookmakers] is raided and Freddy almost thwarts the escape of the man in motorbike leathers who brandishes a gun and hares off. Freddy’s proclaimed the heroine of the day, but quickly comes to realise that as the only witness, she could soon be in for an unwanted visit. Then a man in a crash helmet starts hanging around in the mall... Meanwhile, Karen’s latest coup involves Brewster Dwight of the American Tourist Office, coach loads of culturally-starved Yanks, and an authentic English eatery called Ye Olde Spatz.’

Guest cast:

Matt Zimmerman Brewster Dwight

Also been in T-Bag, Mike & Angelo, Thunderbirds, UFO

TJ the Spatz Beefeater, no pun intended (Day 3, Scene 13)


3.3 Tango

First shown 13/03/92

‘When it comes out that Spatz employee Stanley and Blimpy kid Margaret are partners at a ballroom dancing contest, Ivor Willis is round stirring trouble - and soon the two rival hamburger chains are up against each other in a dance contest of their own, with big money and reputations at stake. Amidst all of this, Karen has discovered that her idol Frapelli is an exotic bird fanatic and spends a fortune on a rare parrot in a bid to gain his affections. Unfortunately someone left the window open ...’

Guest cast:

Paul GrunertIvor Willis

Ivor Willis

Ann Gosling Margaret Scott

Also been in Next Of Kin, Jim’s Gift

Caroline RyderGirl

Also been in Truckers, Inspector Morse

Nicholas ParsonsHimself

TV and radio presenter (Just A Minute, Call My Bluff). Also been in Kappatoo, Cluedo, Docotor Who  Website



3.4 Extortion

First shown 20/03/92

‘It’s smiles all the way at Spatz, as Karen instigates a new initiative whereby any employee caught not beaming cheesily at the customers will have their pay docked. But the grins quickly dry up when a gruesome bunch of mobsters appear in T J’s office and try to extort money out of him. But Thomas Jefferson Strickland is not about to be intimidated by the likes of Horace Flint and his blockhead cronies. However, he is about to be duffed up ...’

Spatz is flooded (thanks to Amanda for remembering about this), when one of the mobsters punctures the water cooler, in this episode.

Joseph remembers that ‘When Karen catches the staff wearing fake grins, she tears them off one at a time, shouting ‘Take those things off now!’, just before a brick crashes through the window.’

Also, Ellis recalls that ‘TJ had just come back from holiday with a really bad moustache, but had to shave it off when he was beaten up and half of it seemed to fall off!’ And, at the end of the episode, ‘Karen faints from the smell of garlic on everyone’s breath (revenge for her forcing them to smile at the customers)!

Guest cast:

Richard O’CallaghanHorace Flint

Also been in McCallum, Red Dwarf: The Movie, Carry On Loving

Leigh FunnelleAmanda Quince

Also been in Fever Pitch, Spooks

Alan BennionPhilip

Also been in B&B, Doctor Who, Psychomania

Phil AtkinsonManfred

Also been in The Bill, Poirot, Birds Of A Feather

Anthony BendittiVicar

Andrew JarvisBald Man

Also been in The Wars Of The Roses

TJ returns from his holiday (Day 1, Scene 2)

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.


3.5 The Curse Of Karen

First shown 27/03/92

‘Karen gets tough with a pair of loopy bag ladies who are creating mayhem in the restaurant and summarily throws them out into the mall. One of them puts a curse on Karen, who is unmoved by the old woman’s rantings. However, the curse gives Vince a very nifty idea of how to get Karen off their backs for a spell. Meanwhile, TJ helps rescue the Saturday morning TV kids’ favourite Lenny’s Lunchtime Laugh-In from the rain, by inviting the television crew to stage the show inside the restaurant.’

Guest cast:

Denise CoffeyMildred

Anna WingLou

Also been in The Bill, Casualty, EastEnders, Providence


Geoffrey SwannBusinessman

Also been in Poirot, Second Thoughts, Seeing Red

Jan RavensPippa Dee

Impressionist, also heard on 2DTV, Dead Ringers, Spitting Image. Also been in Doctors, Midsomer Murders, B&B, One Foot In The Grave

Benjamin HallamCraig

Lucy BriersHayley

Also been in The Bill, Red Dwarf, Pride And Prejudice & she’s Richard Briers’ daughter

Terry Hall and Lenny The LionThemselves

Ventriloquist and puppet, seen on BBC from 1956.

Karen, gunge and Dexter (Day 2, Scene 12)

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.


3.6 Driving Miss Wesley

First shown 03/04/92

The episode’s title parodies the film Driving Miss Daisy.

‘Derek has been driving Debbie up the wall again. More correctly, Debbie’s been learning to drive and Derek’s been learning how not to teach her. The fighting reaches a head when Debbie slams the brakes on their grand affair - and starts seeing someone else in her lunch breaks. Meanwhile, the staff earn extra money by assembling Christmas crackers, and T J and Karen become attached to one another when an experiment with a set of handcuffs goes horribly wrong.’

The Spatz staff make Christmas crackers, but Stanley forgets to put the bangers in and they have to start again. Thanks to Joseph for this episode memory. Ellis recalls that in the same episode, ‘Debbie’s boyfriend Derek (working as a security guard) manages to handcuff TJ and Karen together - even a chainsaw can’t separate them. They end up riding the Circle Line on the Tube all night, although TJ wanted to play squash and Karen was supposed to attend the Deep Fat Fryer of the Year Competition at Earl’s Court. The handcuffs key turned up in a cracker at the end.’

Guest cast:

Denyse Alexander

Also been in Casualty, Midsomer Murders, Goodnight Mister Tom

David HarewoodDerek Pewley

John GrilloStubbs

Also been in Mike & Angelo, Blackadder II, Lovejoy, Cracker

Roger MonkBurglar

Also been in The Fifth Element, The Krays

William VanderpuyeDriving Instructor

Also been in Casualty, Minder, Jonathan Creek, Down

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.



3.7 Poetry And Music

First shown 10/04/92

‘Vince is in love. She came into his life and she stole his heart - and also, apparently, his tongue, since Vince can’t summon up the courage to speak to her. Then when he recovers his voice, he doesn’t know what to say with it. The reason? She’s a university student of English majoring in poetry, and the only rhymes Vince knows are the ones scratched on the back of the lavatory door. Upstairs in the office, Karen draws up plans to rid the mall of buskers.’

Guest cast:

Chloe AnnetDonna Edwards

Also been in Red Dwarf, Crime Traveller

Alan CoxGraham

Also been in Casualty, Miami Vice, Mrs. Dalloway

Alice DouglasFriend

Tom MannionBusker

Also been in The Bill, Mike & Angelo, Brookside, Return Of The Jedi

John BardonInspector Platt

Also been in Dad’s Army, Only Fools And Horses, EastEnders

There is a script summary for this episode on the Episode Summaries Page.





Spatz co-writer Grant Cathro is happy to receive any fan questions about the series. Email me and I will pass them on. Below are those which have been answered so far.


Where did the name Spatz come from? (Stephen)

‘The title survived the development work Lee [Pressman] and I did from Andrew Bethell’s original concept of Spatz as a teen soap. In his version, the restaurant was a 1930s themed burger bar (Spatz were black & white leather shoes of the period). We decided to dump all of this, because we didn’t like it. We felt the show would hit home far better if the place looked like any old branch of Wimpys or McDonalds. This made the title ‘Spatz’ seem redundant... except we’d got used to calling the show by this name and had grown quite fond of it. Good titles being very hard to come up with, keeping it also saved us some headaches. Then it struck us that Spatz could be used in another sense: a ‘spat’ also means a ‘small fight’ or ‘heated disagreement’ - so Spatz might just as well mean: ‘lots of squabbling and cruelty’ - perfection!’


Why did Spatz end? (Stephen)

‘As ever, there’s no easy answer to this. I’ve been involved in a number of big hit shows over the years, and every so often the axe comes down and it seems inexplicable … The ratings were astronomical for Spatz - at one point I believe it smashed all ITV records in getting what they call a ‘75% share’ of the viewers. A figure like this would be impossible now. Then, suddenly, it’s ‘chop’ and you’re history. The truth is, it’s all down to the Executive Producers, Heads of Departments, and all these kinds of people; humble writers like us never really get a look in. So it’s a mixture of internal politics, changes at the top (new Heads of Departments take over and don’t necessarily want to inherit somebody else’s success, they want to make their own successes, and that means ‘the boot’ - it’s a tough hard world, and you’ve just got to take it on the chin - be glad you were able to get to 33 episodes and not get the plug pulled on you after 6!)’


Any chance Spatz will come back on air, with new episodes being made? (Sid)

I’d like to think the show has stood the test of time, and a viable format will always be a viable format - but life moves on. If a commissioning editor were to say to me: “resurrect Spatz?” I’d leap at the chance because I always felt we could have wrung a lot more out of the idea than just 33 eps. Inevitably it would mean starting out fresh, though. Times do change, and whilst there was nothing especially time-specific about the show (it wasn’t satire, for instance) there would probably be less 1990s ‘cut and thrust’ (expressed mainly through Karen’s ultra-obsession about Bottom Line Figures) and more New Millennium paranoia. This would be nothing but a good thing.


So I guess the real answer is: yes, it could work again but it would need to be different.  My main goal would be to rid any new show of this puerile kids’ TV desperation to be ‘cool’.


Having since watched re-runs of Moonlighting [a 1980s US series which featured Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis playing characters with an antagonistic will-they-won’t-they relationship], I was wondering whether there was any inspiration in that for the relationship between Karen and TJ? I always thought there was a definite romantic tension there, even if Karen supposedly despised TJ! (Ellis)

‘No, we didn’t base the Karen/TJ relationship on anything in Moonlighting (actually I don’t even think I’ve seen it) we developed the double-act with the Canadian writers, pitching them originally as ‘nice cop nasty cop’ on the management side; Lee and I added the romantic tension stuff in series two, once we saw how charismatic the actors were when working together - this moved the show on a bit, gave it a fresh dynamic and lots of new storyline potential. Karen’s insane jealousy over TJ’s girlfriend in Fire Alarm is one of my own favourites. In series three we thought “ok enough of that now” and returned to Karen and TJ as sparring partners. It would have been great to see where it might’ve gone if we’d got a Series Four. Alas ...!’




Mike &




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