The Geeks was a show on CITV in the ’90s. I enjoyed it, but it was by no means the favourite show of my childhood. The main reason I’m blogging about it is that there
seems to be so little trace of it online! So here’s a post mainly about my memories of it.
Admittedly, the title makes it like looking for a needle in a haystack. That was the ’90s for you, lots of shows with incredibly generic names that obviously didn’t forsee internet search engines being part of everyday life. Imagine if Friends wasn’t one of the all time most famous sitcoms. If it passed by with little fanfare and now you wanted to look it up, with a title like that it would be difficult to narrow things down enough if you looked online!
This is mainly from memory, so I’ve probably got some details wrong!
The show was about two teenagers, the Geeks, a brother and sister. In spite of their surname, neither fitted a “geek” stereotype really. The boy was called Ossie, the main joke/characteristic of him being that he was very, very, very stupid. The girl was called Lettie, the main joke/characteristic of her being that she fancied all the popstars.
The Geeks had become millionaires for some reason. I’ve forgotten how, they might have inherited it, they might have won the lottery, they might have devoloped a successful video game or something – no idea, but regardless, at the start of the series they had recently become millionaires.
In the first series they lived in a hotel. They had a dog called Bentley, and a horse called Giggsy, (yes, named after Ryan Giggs). There was a voice over for them at the end of the first episode, and I was disappointed this was only a one episode thing. Bentley said in a Cockney accent something along the lines of “you weren’t there when they didn’t have the money. And you look nothing like Ryan Giggs!”. Giggsy, in a Sloaney sort of voice, retorted “Well, Bentley, you look nothing like a car!”. With hindsight, I think Bentley was probably voiced by the actor who played Ossie and Giggsy was voiced by the actress who played Lettie.
Speaking of which, looking on IMDB, Ossie was played by James Holmes. It’s not clear who played Lettie, but I’m fairly certain it was Ronni Ancona. IMDB says she was in every episode in the first series, but doesn’t say who she played, but Lettie is the regular character she most likely would have been playing.
There was also a computer character called Lulu, who was shown as a head on a TV screen like Holly in Red Dwarf. I don’t know who played Lulu either, but I don’t think it was Ronni Ancona. The computer did look a lot like Violet Berlin, who was presenting the CITV video game/computer show Bad Influence! at around this time. But I’m pretty sure Violet Berlin didn’t play Lulu the computer – I think it was just someone who looked a lot like her.
The Geeks also had a butler, Alfred, probably named after Batman’s butler. There was an episode when they gave Alfred a surprise birthday party, but they wanted to keep it a surprise so had to pretend they’d forgotten his birthday, so he thinks that they don’t care about him, so he tries to go and spend his birthday elsewhere, but then they have try and stop him, but they don’t want to let on that they are throwing a surprise party because then it wouldn’t be a surprise, so they have to find excuses to keep him there etc. This was a sort of plot I saw in a lot of TV shows as a kid, and frankly I always hated it. I just found it to be asking for trouble, and a bit unnecessarily cruel to the person who was supposed to be getting the surprise party really.
There was another episode where Alfred got a custard pie in the face from Sue Cook because he kept getting her surname wrong, thinking it was “Baker” or “Chef” and so on
rather than “Cook”.
The series had this format where they had celebrities staying at the hotel, and the Geeks interviewed them as if they were interviewing guests on a talkshow, which, yeah was exactly what they were in a way, but I always found it really jarring.
The trailers for the first series heavily featured Ant and Dec, even though they didn’t really have anything to do with the show. I think they appeared on it once, although that might have been in series 2. All I remember is Lettie pointing out that they don’t like to be called PJ and Duncan anymore. When Ant and Dec started off doing TV presenting, they were still referred to as their Byker Grove characters names for a bit, so I guess this would have been around the time they were trying to get more known as “themselves”.
Ossie liked to do impressions now and again. He did impressions of Sean Connery’s Bond and Alf Stewart from Home & Away. I don’t know why those in particular are the ones I remember, but they are.
In series 2 of The Geeks there were a lot of changes. Only James Holmes as Ossie returned (well, and Bentley the dog, but I don’t know if it was the same dog playing him!). Lettie as a character was back as well, but now played by Fiona Grogan. They explained Lettie looking different by saying Lettie had plastic surgery!
They no longer lived in the hotel either, they had moved into a chateau, which they named Chateau Geek. There was a new butler, Humphrey, played by Mike Hayley, and two new servants Saul the chauffeur (Mark Frost) and Lisa the maid (Nina Muschalik). There was an ongoing thing where Lettie fancied Saul and Ossie fancied Lisa, but Saul and Lisa only had eyes for each other!
Series 2 had more ongoing plots generally. There was something about Bentley getting lost and the Geeks had to travel to locations around the world looking for him (which was where they tended to do the celebrity interviews this time).
There were also two villains. Justin Flash, a shifty wideboy conman who was trying to steal the Geeks’ money. He was played by Freddie Douglas, who nowadays is credited as Frederick Stuart, according to IMDB.
Then there was Lady Henrietta Equin-Swaine. She was an aristocrat who had lost all her money and had to sell her chateau to the Geeks, and she and her family had to move into Snobby Cottage down the road. She spent most of her time trying to get the chateau back (and also mentioned world domination, not so much as an ambition but as something she assumed would happen for her one day!).
Henrietta was played by Elsa O’Toole. She looked like she was having a lot of fun! I certainly enjoyed her performance. She played another character as well, an Elizabethan ghost ancestor of Henrietta’s who still haunted the chateau. But she disliked Henrietta for losing the family fortune and for the fact that, well, Henrietta wasn’t a very nice person, so the ghost decided to warn Lettie not to trust Henrietta.
Henrietta and Justin eventually teamed up, trying a Scooby Doo style plan dressing up as ghosts to scare the Geeks off (standard wearing a white sheet and going “woooooo” stuff). Of course, they hadn’t reckoned with a real ghost showing up, and she scared Henrietta and Justin off (at least until the next episode).
There was also an implication that Justin had a crush on Henrietta.
Henrietta had a son and a daughter, who were played by James Holmes and Fiona Grogan. They didn’t do much, but there were a few meta references to how they looked similar to Ossie and Lettie. To be fair, the costume department did a decent job of making them look different. The son wore suits and had gelled straight hair (Ossie always looked a bit messy, and had frizzy hair), while the daughter wore big glasses and was dressed quite plainly and conservatively (Lettie didn’t wear glasses, and tended to wear glittery, gaudy clothes). Henrietta’s husband was never seen properly, he was just behind an open newspaper reading it, which was a “dad” stereotype back then.
Ossie used to call Saul “Soil” and Henrietta “Ladyshave”, and he actually didn’t mean it to be insulting! He meant it quite innocently. He thought those were their names! Yes, he really was that daft!
Unfortunately I missed the final episode, so I don’t know how the series ended, but it didn’t come back for a third.
The Geeks was a programme I quite liked when it was on, and while I’m not saying it was a classic or anything it was fun and I think it deserves to be remembered a bit more than it seems to have been.