TV UK TV

Good Life, The (BBC-1 1974-1978, Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal)

Much loved sitcom The Good Life saw Tom Good and his wife Barbara tire of the rat race and decide to go self sufficient in the middle of Surbiton, much to the initial distress of their next door neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter.

The first episode Plough Your Own Furrow sets up the premise nicely with Tom Good celebrating his 40th birthday and realising that there has to be more to life than getting up and going off to do a job you don’t really like (he’s a graphic designer making the little toys you used to find in cereal packets before they started giving away computer games), he then talks his wife Barbara into his idea of living a completely self sufficient lifestyle – but with the twist of staying put right where they are in the middle of Surbiton. Before you know it they have dug up their front and back garden, planted vegetables and got themselves a goat called Geraldine.

All of this is contrasted with the their middle (would be upper) class neighbours Jerry and Margo Leadbeatter. Margo and Jerry think Tom and Barbara are mad of course but they do genuinely like and care about their neighbours and it’s the interaction of the four of them that makes the show so successful. The rest of the episodes deal with the Good’s getting to grips with their new lifestyle and with Tom using his skills to build a generator (The Thing in the Cellar) that works on the waste produced by their pigs.

The 45 minute special was a Royal Performance in which the Queen was a member of the audience. In the US the show is known as Good Neighbors because of a show already being titled The Good Life over there.

Felicity Kendal, Richard Briers The Good Life

production details
UK / BBC One / 29×30 minute episodes 1×45 minute episodes / Broadcast 4 April 1974 – 10 June 1978 4 Seasons + 2 Specials

Writers: John Esmonde, Bob Larbey / Music: Burt Rhodes / Titles: Oliver Rhodes / Producer: John Howard Davies

cast
RICHARD BRIERS as Tom Good
FELICITY KENDAL as Barbara Good
PENELOPE KEITH as Margo Leadbetter
PAUL EDDINGTON as Jerry Leadbetter

THE EPISODES
SEASON ONE 4 April – 16 May 1975
1. PLOUGH YOUR OWN FURROW
2. SAY LITTLE HEN…
3. THE WEAKER SEX
4. PIG’S LIB
5. THE THING IN THE CELLAR
6. THE PAGAN RITE
7. BACKS TO THE WALL

the good life

SEASON TWO 5 Dec 1975 – 23 January 1976
1. JUST MY BILL
2. THE GURU OF SURBITON
3. MR FIX-IT
4. THE DAY PEACE BROKE OUT
5. MUTINY
6. HOME SWEET HOME
7. GONE TO POT?

SEASON THREE 10 September – 22 October 1976
1. THE EARLY BIRDS
2. THE HAPPY EVENT
3. A TUG OF THE FORELOCK
4. I TALK TO THE TREES
5. THE WIND-BREAK WAR
6. WHOSE FLEAS ARE THESE?
7. THE LAST POSH FROCK

SEASON FOUR 10 April – 22 May 1977
1. AWAY FROM IT ALL
2. THE GREEN DOOR
3. OUR SPEAKER TODAY…
4. SUIT YOURSELF
5. SWEET AND SOUR CHARITY
6. ANNIVERSARY

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 26 December 1977
SILLY BUT IT’S FUN

A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE OF THE GOOD LIFE 10 June 1978
WHEN I’M SIXTY 65 (This was a Royal Performance with the Queen in the audience and a special introduction from Brian Jones as well as commentary from Brian Johnston.





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