Butterflies (BBC-2 1978-1982 with Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer)

Wendy Craig and Bruce Montague in Butterflies

UK / BBC Two and then BBC One / 28×30 minute episodes plus two short specials / Broadcast 10 November 1978 – 19 October 1983

Writer: Carla Lane / Producers: Gareth Gwenlan, Sydney Lotterby

A major hit with the public when it aired between 1978 and 1983 sitcom Butterflies follows bored, married housewife, terrible cook and a mother of two Ria who begins an “affair of the mind” with businessman Leonard, although Ria is not prepared to take things further than the occasional walk in the park or lunchtime meal in a cosy restaurant Leonard wants more.

Ria is married to Dentist Ben who is preoccupied with his butterfly collection and the latest dentistry techniques. Ria also has two teenage sons Russell and Adam who spend all their time trying to score with chicks. (Although Andrew Hall as Russell and Nicholas Lyndhurst as Adam give great performances even if their dialogue is almost old fashioned and written as though it’s 1969 not 1979 with hippy references and talk of chicks and the like).

As is typical with most of Carla Lane’s output her concerns reflect those of Ria (for example the episode where Ria gets up in arms at a fox hunt and organises a protest meeting).

Incidentally the theme tune (Love is like a butterfly written by Dolly Parton) is sung by Claire Terry – the same lady who contributed vocals to the classic Pink Floyd song The Great Gig in the Sky.

The show’s first two seasons were on BBC Two before switching to BBC One from the first special broadcast 22 December 1979. On 27 December 1982 there was a short special broadcast as part of the BBC’s Funny Side of Christmas show and then on 17 November 2000 the cast reconvened for a nostalgic but brief follow up as part of the BBC’s Children In Need celebrations.

Geoffrey Palmer as Ben
Wendy Craig as Ria
Nicholas Lyndhurst as Adam
Andrew Hall as Russell
Bruce Montague as Leonard
Joyce Windsor as Ruby