Comedy of the Commonplace: The Sitcom Genius of Peg Lynch

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After the last production of Ethel and Albert on television in 1956, the storied couple returned to radio as a fifteen-minute program, The Couple Next Door, for a three-year run. The cast was the same, but the family name had changed from Arbuckle to Piper. While the funny little incidents of life were still the bedrock of her comedy, Peg Lynch also brought in headline topics and issues. One amusing episode dealt with the confusion of calculating Social Security taxes for a home employee; the Social Security Administration wrote her, asking to use the piece for training their employees.

Peg Lynch as Ethel and Alan Bunce as Albert continued to do television commercials after The Couple Next Door ended its run. They also revived Ethel and Albert on NBC’s radio’s Monitor Comedy Time (1963-64), airing six four-minute sketches each weekend. National Public Radio offered new episodes of the sitcom, produced by Earcom, in 1973. Peg wrote and acted in The Little Things in Life, part of an hour-long syndicated show, Radio Playhouse; and British television adapted Ethel and Albert as Chintz in 1979 with a British cast. Even after the completion of her radio and television career, Peg Lynch continued to play her character Ethel at Old Time Radio and Television Conventions around the country. Into her 80s and 90s she remained an engaging and witty raconteur. She died at her home in Becket, Massachusetts, on July 24, 2015, at age 98.