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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 snobbish 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), 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.

production details
UK | BBC One | 24×30 minutes 1×45 minutes | Broadcast 4 April 1974 – 10 June 1978

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

Richard Briers as Tom Good
Felicity Kendal as Barbara Good
Penelope Keith as Margo Leadbetter
Paul Eddington as Jerry Leadbetter
Reginald Marsh as Andrew / Sir