Connect with us

Features

TV’s Greatest Hits: Tom and Barbara live The Good Life

Published

on


What was it all about?
The ultimate suburban sit-com but, unlike its contemporaries (such as Happy Ever After), the comedy did actually have more depth than the lino in the kitchen.

Who were the main characters?
Tom Good, draughtsman with a company which designs plastic toys for breakfast cereal packets, decides to quit the rat-race on his 40th birthday and instead make his living from his garden by going self-sufficient. His pert wife, Barbara, is unsure at first but soon dons dungarees and wellies and mucks in enthusiastically.

The Goods’ next-door neighbours are golf-playing Jerry Leadbetter and his wife Margo. Jerry is Tom’s old boss – Tom and Jerry are friends just like their cat and mouse namesakes — while Margo is a Grade One snob.

Both are prominent members of the local G and T set and Margo, in particular, is appalled at the thought of pigs milling around in next door’s garden. What will it do to property prices? Margo would no more be seen in dungarees than streak along the High Street but, after initially pitying Barbara, Margo comes to admire her for what she is prepared to do to make her marriage work. Thanks to superb scripts and performances, The Good Life became a modern comedy of class and manners.

Felicity Kendal, Richard Briers The Good Life

When was it on?
From 1975 to 1978 – four series, each comprising seven episodes, plus two specials.

Who wrote it?
John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, previously best known for Please Sir!

Who were the star turns?
Richard Briers played Tom with Felicity Kendal as Barbara, Paul Eddington as Jerry and Penelope Keith as Margo. The series propelled Penelope Keith from supporting actress to sitcom stardom and further success opposite Peter Bowles in To The Manor Born.

the good life

Wasn’t Margo originally just a peripheral character?
That’s right. At first, she was only supposed to appear in a few scenes but when one episode was running short, Esmonde and Larbey slipped in an extra scene showing Margo on the phone. Penelope Keith seized the opportunity and turned Margo into the Empress of Suburbia, arguably the show’s most popular – if not its best-loved – character.

Where was it set?
In Surbiton, land of dinner parties and twitching net curtains.

Any guest stars?
Not in vision. But veteran animal impressionist Percy Edwards provided the voice of the Goods’ pig. Even in his 70s, Percy was still bringing home the bacon.

the-good-life-3

Who watched it?
Despite the fact that Margo was even more regal than Her Maj, this was another of the Queen’s favourites. When she was asked in 1978 to help raise money for the British Commonwealth Games team by picking a TV programme for which she could sit in the studio audience, she chose The Good Life.

Any real-life resonance?
The series created a surge of interest in self-sufficiency. Throughout the country, herbaceous borders were dug up and replaced with vegetable patches and people everywhere swapped their lawn-mowers for goats. By 1980, the pursuit of the good life had resulted in a record 51,000 smallholdings in Britain… mainly the idea of husbands hoping their wives would look as good as Felicity Kendal in a pair of overalls.

and this just in

Episodes2 hours ago

Four Corners: The Path to Power (ABC TV Mon 23 May 2022)

“You’ve had kitchen sinks, babies and bath waters, you name it, it’s all being thrown…The fact that we’re seeing that...

Episodes2 hours ago

French Thriller Missing Angel Premieres Thurs 26 May on SBS On Demand

Four part French Thriller Missing Angel, starring Muriel Robin, Premieres Thurs 26 May on SBS On Demand. In June 2012,...

Episodes17 hours ago

Home and Away: Episode 7799 (S35EP84 Channel 7 Mon 23 May 2022)

Can Theo escape the friend zone? Xander uncovers the cause of Millie’s car crash. Leah cooks up a plan to...

Episodes17 hours ago

The Change: Ireland’s Menopause Story (RTE One Mon 23 May 2022)

Documentary about women’s experiences with menopause, looking at both common and uncommon symptoms and speaking with experts about the causes,...

Episodes17 hours ago

Brainstorm Season 1 Episode 4 (RTE One Mon 23 May 2022)

Donal Fallon, a social historian, looks into why amateur athletes play for free, the hidden history of nursery rhymes, the...

Episodes17 hours ago

Against the Head Highlights: 23/05/2022 (RTE Two Mon 23 May 2022)

Daire O’Brien and guests Bernard Jackman and Donal Lenihan with a look back at the weekend’s rugby action. Airdate: Monday...

Episodes17 hours ago

Redemption Season Final (S1EP6 Virgin Media One Mon 23 May 2022)

Colette finally has proof of what she has always suspected, thanks to Patrick and Siobhán’s help. When she discovers the...

Episodes17 hours ago

The Chronicles of Mourne (BBC Two NI Mon 23 May 2022)

Landscape photographer Leslie Hanthorne captures dawn and sunset shots, while wildlife ranger Donald Whiteside conducts a census of the local...

EPISODES

Episodes17 hours ago

Neighbours: 23/5/22 (Channel 5 Mon 23 May 2022)

Nikau tries reaching out to Chloe to clear the air. Tane is concerned about Mia’s decision. Roo is struggling with...

Episodes17 hours ago

Home and Away: 23/5/22 (Channel 5 Mon 23 May 2022)

Dean inquires about Chloe with Tane. With Theo and Leah away visiting Theo’s mother, Justin is at a loss. Logan...

Episodes17 hours ago

Couples Therapy Season 2 Episode 9 (S2EP9 BBC Two Mon 23 May 2022)

Michael starts to deal with the stress in his marriage. Matthew has two epiphanies: one in an AA meeting and...

Episodes17 hours ago

Five Bedrooms: Zero Logic (S3EP1 Mon 23 May 2022)

Zero Logic: Ben establishes himself as a BnB accommodation provider with the entire house depending on him. He’s feeling the...

Episodes17 hours ago

The Block: Big Renovation Challenge Episode 11 (More 4 Mon 23 May 2022)

Scotty and Shelley arrive to get an update on the situation. They’re also trying to figure out who’s behind some...

Episodes17 hours ago

Below Deck Mediterranean: Sleepless in Croatia (S6EP16 E4 Mon 23 May 2022)

Sleepless in Croatia: The crew tries to manage a group of demanding charter guests with only six people while Lloyd...

Episodes17 hours ago

The Cane Field Killings Episode 7 (S1EP7 Channel 4 Tues 24 May 2022)

Reyka (Kim Engelbrecht) re-enacts the shooting of Soda (Khayalethu Anthony) and is shocked to discover the evidence leads back Samuel...

Episodes17 hours ago

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – Sumatra’s Stunning Highlands (S2EP4 Channel 4 Tues 24 May 2022)

Sumatra’s Stunning Highlands: Chef Gordon Ramsay’s quest to master the world’s most fascinating cuisines leads him to the Indonesian island...