The 7 Best Time-Travel Moments in Goodnight Sweetheart

As Gary Sparrow knows only too well, stepping through a time portal and meddling with all known laws of physics can get you into some seriously odd situations. Like these ones…

Goodnight Sweetheart


Just when he thought he'd got the hang of the whole time travel lark, Gary was shocked all over again when he went through the time portal and found himself not in the 1940s... but the 1880s. Of course, Gary being Gary, he wasted no time in romancing one of the local ladies and making a bit of a name for himself in this era's Royal Oak. Things got rapidly stranger when he found himself accused of being Jack the Ripper. Fleeing an angry mob, Gary bumped into the real Ripper, who it turned out had been using the time portal to escape into the 1990s whenever the police were close to catching him. We then had the surreal sight of the Victorian serial killer let loose on 90s London - until being hit by a bus. Case closed.


It's a wonder that Gary could keep going back in time and dabbling in history without the future being massively altered. Except for that time when he went to Liverpool in the 1940s and met Ron's grandfather, who got in the local papers after saving a child from a burning building. Gary's presence led to the grandfather being nicked for theft (don't ask), meaning he was in a jail cell when the fire broke out and couldn't fulfil his destiny as a local hero.

Gary returned to the 90s to find it rather different. There was a President Thatcher in Downing Street. Plus, Yvonne was married to somebody else, while Ron was now a vicar. Yes: a vicar. Utterly alarmed, Gary returned to the 40s to get Gary's granddad out of jail and put history back on the right course. Which is a pity, because we'd love to have seen more of the Reverend Ron.


Not content with getting hitched in a different time period, Gary also became mates with one of the most celebrated Londoners of the 1940s. Namely, Noel Coward: writer, showman and dapper dinner table wit, who proved to be utterly charming company.

In fact, when Phoebe had to deal with snobby locals in a posh part of London, Noel came to the rescue by giving her elocution lessons, in true My Fair Lady style. Mr Coward also helped set up a trust fund for Gary's son, and even tried to get Gary involved in the British movie industry. Fortunately, that didn't come to anything - Gary's ego didn't exactly need inflating.


What's even odder than finding a time portal down a London alleyway? Well, how about getting struck by a lightning bolt which abruptly creates an evil version of yourself? That's precisely what happened to Gary, and the galling thing was that "Bad Gary" proved a bigger hit with Yvonne than the original. In fact, his roguish charm and devilish bedroom talent made him flavour of the month.

Sadly for Yvonne, it wasn't to last. Gary came to blows with Bad Gary, and - just to make things even more bizarre - a "Good Gary" turned up as well. It turned he'd also been created by the lightning bolt, but had spent most of his time over in the 1940s helping out with the war effort and being an all-round great guy. A bit like the Ace Rimmer version of Gary, really.


Leading a double life in a far-flung time period does rather depend on the portal staying open. Which is why Gary was seriously scared when a technician from the future appeared in the 1990s, toggling switches on a mysterious device and casually talking about portals having to close. Suddenly, Gary had to face the prospect of never seeing Phoebe and the rest of the 1940s ever again.

At exactly the same time, a SECOND portal opened up - this one being a gateway to the far future - the year 2168 to be exact. A time traveller called Brick Beckham emerged, looking to snap up stuff to sell on as antiques in his own era. Gary was relieved to discover that it was this other portal that actually had to be closed, rather than the one to the 40s. Bad news for Ron, though, who actually had a bit of a bromance with Brick Beckham.


The rules of time travel are fluid, complex and occasionally maddening. Take the time a wartime bomb caused some kind of disturbance in the portal which allowed everyone - not just Gary - to step through it. Before he knew what was happening, Phoebe had emerged in the 1990s and he had to hastily keep her confined in his shop, claiming it was his secret headquarters.

And then it happened: Yvonne and Phoebe met face to face, and even shook hands. Two worlds collided. Two time zones merged. And it was the single most awkward moment in Gary's entire life. Incredibly, his web of lies remained intact with neither of the women any the wiser. Honestly, how does he get away with it?


Another historical celebrity who crossed paths with Gary was the iconic banjo botherer George Formby. The music hall entertainer was a very big deal during World War Two, amusing millions of troops during the darkest days of the conflict. He was also an influence on the Beatles, so it was nicely ironic that he almost ended up accidentally releasing his own version of When I'm Sixty-Four, decades before the Fab Four.

Yep, it was all Gary's fault. He'd passed the song off as his own in the Royal Oak, Formby took a liking to it... and came perilously close to performing it during a big show, changing the course of British pop history. Fortunately, he then got drunk and forgot the song. Still, he'll always have When I'm Cleaning Windows.