What's the Hoblem with Probbo?


Dedicated Member
I'm not detecting a lot of love for our Hobbo from people so I thought I'd have a look back and see re-evaluate his era.

There are certainly bits I like such as his wish to make Howard's life more comfortable when he's kicked out especially and for the rarer occasions when he's calm and has a reflective moment. But the overriding issues are not his age in contrast to our principals thatcould be thought to be an issue. Instead it's two things that particicularly jar personally:

1. His need to be in almost every plot - one minute he's at Barrys the next he's in the truck, the next against a wall. I know that the episode structures are not always linear but he really gives the impression of being in several places at once and basically interfering in a whole village's life!

2. His playing ovf most scenes is overdone and whilst Foggy was a loveable barmpot that could be reasoned with...eventually...his approach is far more fantasy based and is portrayed in an overly energetic way.

Let me know your thoughts! :)
Thanks for posting such an interesting and well thought out post Mashibinbin. I was thinking of posting a poll to see whether the series should have continued beyond Compos death as many say they stopped watching then.

I recall Alan Bell saying what a coup getting Russ was when I went to the audience show in 2008 so he was certainly excited about him. Also Russ only had 2 series and like many other characters it took them a while to find their feet. You have also got to bear in mind the dynamic of the trio was being mixed up so it wasn't simply replacing the third man, there always seemed to be different groups of characters. I think had the show been allowed to continue this would have sorted itself out.

I found Hobbo to be a likeable character, but I felt some of his storylines about being a spy sometimes bordered on the absurd.
I think in Hobbo's defence, there is a couple of things to point out

1. Hobbo is working to the Script and the storylines good or bad were not written by him.

2. If the show had continued Hobbo might of changed, I recall not many folk liking Seymour when he first came into the show.
I think the leads in the Trio all had substance , their complexity and the situations that developed were plausible and totally in keeping with the characteristics the lead man displayed but with Hobbo that was lost to an extent , the Spy scenario was so implausible that most of the plots seemed absurd and detracted from the ethos they show had established over all series so far . In the end Russ Abbot may or may not have had a say in how his character developed but it would never have been definitive , Roy Clarke and Alan J W Bell effectively decided how plots would play out.
I always found that Hobbo's character was too close to Foggy's. Foggy was in the army so you can understand his love of the bayonet even though the only thing he got near to that had a sharp edge was a pen nib. Hobbo just thought he was a spy.
Hobbo never really worked for me, the character was way over the top and yes Russ Abbot did not write the script but I've never been overly fond of Russ Abbot anyway, there have been a couple of things I've liked him in as he's gotten older mind. To be totally fair if they'd put Johnny Depp in that role I still wouldn't have liked him so unfortunately I find it solely down to the writing and I know this won't be popular, but John let me finish! I think Roy Clarke's writing isn't as sharp as it was because Still Open all Hours wasn't, in my view very good either. I loved Open all Hours so I was a fan of the show and I'd never take anything away from the man who wrote so many brilliant shows for so many years without fail but age is definitely starting to show in his writing.
I agree with you Pearl, his writing wasn't as sharp towards the end of his writing career. The writing in the original OAH was absolutely razor sharp and Ronnie Barkers lines were some of the funniest ever written in any series. I do agree that SOAH was pretty poor when compared to his other work. I think the key skill of a good comedy writer is to have an in depth awareness of society and people of all ages and this will always be a challenge to a writer in their 80's. This would have been less of a problem for LOTSW due to the demographic of the characters and audience.

However I will caveat my comments with something I've said before, a below par Roy Clarke comedy is still infinitely better than most of the 'comedy' that's foisted upon us today......
However I will caveat my comments with something I've said before, a below par Roy Clarke comedy is still infinitely better than most of the 'comedy' that's foisted upon us today......
Barry I could not agree with you more, I'd take Roy Clarke on his very worst day over the so called comedy writers of today, I totally dispare of for what is classed as funny now, the writing is awful, the jokes are not funny and the actors are not good either. My kids say, mam watch this its hilarious and it's so bad I wonder if they're actually my kids. Yes I know this makes me sound old and to just compound that yesterday we were sat at traffic lights when two workmen walked past and I asked my husband why two 12 year olds were fixing the lights!!! He said they they must be trainees and I agreed to comfort myself but for all I know they were the bosses!
I'll stick to what I like from here on in.
I always felt Hobbo was too much like Russ's 'Basildon Bond' character which seemed out of place and over-the-top for the LotSW universe. Billy talked about Robin Hood a good deal but seemed more mellow about it. Had Hobbo eased up on the ex-spy deal I think I could have liked his character more.
Russ wasn't/isn't very well know over here so for me he came to the show as a fresh character. When he first appeared I didn't take to him and as mentioned above his spy persona was very over the top, particularly in the beginning. After a few episodes however, once this was toned down a bit I thought his involvement in the show became more positive. When I went back and reviewed his episodes I found that I actually quite liked him!

His stories were reminiscent of Foggy's rambles, and to be honest I found some of those to be tiresome when he corners a victim and then regales them with his fantasies. At least with Hobbo, he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously; after all his memories have been tampered with!! :08:
His story about the Polar Bear and still exchanging Christmas Cards for example show he has a sense of the unreal. After all who thinks a Polar Bear can write? He just sends his paw print! :37:
I liked Hobbo. I always wondered how he would or would not have fit in had he been simply dropped in as third man with a still ambulatory Clegg and Truly.

Also, until Leigh's documentary, I was not aware Mr. Abbot had such a storied career!