Starring: Norman Beaton, Carmen Munroe, Ram John Holder and Gyearbuor Asante
Rated: Not Rated Comedy
Set in the Peckham community of London, England, Desmond’s centers upon the family and professional life of Black barber Desmond Ambrose (Norman Beaton). Married to Shirley (Carmen Munroe) and father to Michael (Geff Francis), Gloria (Kimberly Walker) and Sean (Justin Pickett), much of the series occurs in either the Ambrose home or his barbershop.
Desmond constantly complains of the terrible things of life in England and promises to return to his beloved Guyana. Shirley, wise, no-nonsense and loving, has no intentions of going back to their home country. Reared in Peckham, the children have aspirations of their own. Michael, who often has to have his arrogance humbled, works as an assistant manager of a local bank. Gloria, while uninterested in school, is giddy about fashion, music and boys. The youngest, Sean, does well academically but has become fascinated with hip-hop culture and wants to be a rapper.
It is at Desmond’s shop where wisdom and hilarious confusion occur. Though he is known for not being an accomplished barber, his place is a welcoming spot for those in the neighborhood. His frequent “customers”, who actually seem to simply hang out all day and rib each other, include Augustus Neapolitan Cleveland “Porkpie” Grant, Matthew (Gyearbuor Asante) and Lee “The Peckham Prince” Stanley. Porkpie, who is also from Guyana, has been best friends with Desmond since their childhood. They also performed in a band together. Matthew is from The Gambia and has been working on his graduate degree for eons. He often peppers his conversation with, “There is an old African saying …” to the derision and eyerolls of those in Desmond’s. Lee, the son of a friend of Desmond and Shirley, often stops by the barbershop to peddle his wares. His sales pitches include colorful stories that explain how he obtained his items.
Desmond’s aired on Channel 4 from 1989 until 1994. “Don’t Scratch My Soca”, the theme song of Desmond’s, was performed by Norman Beaton, who played its titular character.
Created by Black St. Lucian writer, director and composer Trix Worrell, the sitcom contained issues, including classism, ethnocentrism, nationalism and racism, for Blacks in London. Containing seventy-one episodes, it became, episode-wise, the channel’s longest running sitcom. In 1992, Desmond’s won a British Comedy Award for “Best Channel 4 Comedy”. It was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for “Best Comedy (Programme or Series) of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1994.
Desmond’s ended when Norman Beaton passed away in his home city of Georgetown, Guyana in 1994. A new series, Porkpie, was launched in 1995. Focused on the colorful best friend of Desmond, it ran for two seasons and included cameos from characters of Desmond’s.
Since its ending, seasons of the sitcom have been made available for purchase on DVD. In 2010, VEI released Desmond’s- The Collection: Series One to Four. all episodes from the first four seasons are contained on a seven-disc set.
The award-winning series has also been shown by various networks including BET and local television channels such as London Live. In late 2020, all six seasons of Desmond’s were made available to stream on Amazon and Netflix.