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Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads

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Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads (BBC-1 1973-1974, James Bolam, Rodney Bewes)

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Sitcom. Even better sequel to The Likely Lads. Back in the times when men were men and shirts were brushed nylon, Terry and Bob were trying to make sense of 1970s Britain. Not surprisingly, it often seemed to make the most sense when viewed from within the safety of a pub.  The lads are now older but certainly not wiser. Bob is now a rising executive on the verge of marriage to childhood sweetheart Thelma. Terry, following a spell in the army based in Germany, hasn’t changed and is proud of his working classness.

In Terry and Bob, writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais created down-to-earth characters who also reflected the rapidly changing social climate. And they liked a drink. And they were funny. As the series opens, it’s 1973 and Terry’s just back from a long spell in the army. He bumps into his old mate, Bob. They used to have a laugh in the old days but Bob seems different somehow…

The whole of the first season moves towards Bob and Thelma’s wedding whilst the second sees them uneasily settling into domesticity. The dialogue is consistently superb as are the performances, a big screen movie was made in 1976 which was pretty much a remake of the first few episodes with Terry returning home once more and having trouble settling into society. There was also a 13 episode radio version broadcast in 1975 which reworked original scripts.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads

Brigit Forsyth as Thelma, Rodney Bewes as Bob

Working-class hero

With a friend like Terry you don’t need enemies. The man’s a born trouble-magnet. What’s more, he has an unerring knack of dragging the gentler, more cautious Bob into his hopeless schemes and hair-raising scrapes. For Terry, life is still all about booze, birds and football. But that doesn’t mean he’s not as sharp as a knife. James Bolam’s driven portrayal of Terry’s skewed Geordie world-view remains one of the greatest comic creations on British television. Bolam went on to star in countless TV productions, including When the Boat Comes In and, more recently, the crime drama, New Tricks.

Company man

Always more ambitious than Terry, Bob worked hard while his friend was in the army and now has a white-collar job. He’s also engaged to his boss’s daughter, Thelma (Brigit Forsyth), whose bourgeois preoccupations horrify Terry. But Bob loves Thelma and endures terrible anguish as he’s torn between her and his old mate. Sporting a truly awful 1970s haircut and a succession of equally dodgy suits, the soft-featured Rodney Bewes conveyed Bob’s inner turmoil perfectly. Bewes was the ideal foil for Bolam, although their relationship wasn’t always plain sailing. Bewes has worked mainly in the theatre since Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads but has said publicly that he’d consider making another series. Bolam, however, is understood to be reluctant to revisit the part of Terry.

A likely story

As mentioned before Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads had its origins in a much earlier black and white sitcom, The Likely Lads, which followed the fortunes of Terry and Bob as callow young factory workers. It seems surprising now, but Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s naturalistic style and earthy dialogue were groundbreaking features when The Likely Lads was first broadcast in 1964. So was the use of “straight” actors like Bolam and Bewes. Until the mid-60s, the fashion had been to cast established comedians in sitcoms. The public warmed to Terry and Bob’s energetic but haphazard attempts to get to grips with the world and the programme became a hit. As The Likely Lads drew to a close, Bob signed up to join the army and see the world. Terry, appalled at the prospect of coping with life alone, reluctantly enlisted with him. But, in a twist of fate, Bob was rejected because of flat feet and Terry had to join the army on his own.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads Bob and Thelma

Winning partnership

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais co-wrote the first script for The Likely Lads while Clement was still training at the BBC. The immense success of both Likely Lads shows made the pair as scriptwriters and they’ve never looked back. They have a long line of impressive credits, including the hugely popular sitcom, Porridge, and the warmly received 1991 movie, The Commitments. The catchy, poignant theme tune of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads became a minor Top 40 hit off the back of the sitcom’s success. “What Happened to You?” was co-written by Ian La Frenais and former Manfred Mann member Mike Hugg.

Haway the new lads

The best Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads script is generally reckoned to be February 1973’s No Hiding Place, in which Terry and Bob are trying to avoid hearing a crucial football result. In 2002, Ant and Dec starred in a remake of the episode, entitled A Tribute to the Likely Lads. The spoof featured a cameo appearance by Rodney Bewes.

production details
UK / BBC-1 / 26×30 Minute Episodes 1×45 minute episode / Broadcast 9 January 1973 – 24 December 1974

Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais / Producers: James Gilbert, Bernard Thompson / Theme Music: Mike Hugg, Ian La Frenais / Incidental Music: Ronnie Hazlehurst

cast
James Bolam as Terry Collier
Rodney Bewes as Bob Ferris
Brigit Forsyth as Thelma
Sheila Fearn as Audrey

THE EPISODES
SEASON ONE 9 January – 3 April 1973
1. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
2. HOME IS THE HERO
3. COLD FEET
4. MOVING ON
5. I’LL NEVER FORGET WHATSHERNAME
6. BIRTHDAY BOY
7. NO HIDING PLACE
8. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?
9. STORM IN A TEA CHEST
10. THE OLD MAGIC
11. COUNT DOWN
12. BOYS NIGHT IN
13. END OF AN ERA

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads

SEASON TWO 1 January – 9 April 1974
1. ABSENT FRIENDS
2. HEART TO HEART
3. THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER
4. ONE FOR THE ROAD
5. THE GREAT RACE
6. SOME DAY WE’LL LAUGH ABOUT THIS
7. IN HARM’S WAY
8. AFFAIRS AND RELATIONS
9. THE EXPERT
10. BETWEEN OURSELVES
11. THE GO-BETWEEN
12. CONDUCT UNBECOMING
13. THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 24 December 1974
THE LIKELY LADS: A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EDITION

PLUS THE MOVIE RELEASED IN 1976

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TV

Ape And Essence (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Alec McCowen)

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In Scifi drama Ape and Essence, based on the novel by Aldous Huxley, a group of New Zealand scientists conduct a survey on a Britain ravaged by atomic war 80 years previously.

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 2 Episode 29

cast
Alec McCowen as Alfred Poole
Robert Eddison as Arch Vicar
Derek Sydney as Chief
Jenny Lee as Flossie
Yvonne Antrobus as Young Girl
Sydney Bromley as Craigie
Martin Carroll as Director of Food
Hazel Douglas as Mies Hook
John Falconer as Patriarch
Petra Markham as Loola
Ken Parry as Science Praet
Amanda Reiss as Polly
Jonathan Scott as Int. Priest
Fiona Fraser as Part of Crowd
Ann Mitchell as Shaven-Head
Jacki Salt as Mulatto Girl
Carol Blake as Shaven-Head
Gordon Craig as Part of Crowd
Robert Cude as First Man

crew details
Writer: John Finch
Book: Aldous Huxley
Music: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Producer: Peter Luke
Director: David Benedictus.

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC One
Duration: 1×75 minute episode
Aired From: 18 May 1966

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TV

Plane Makers, The (ITV 1963-1965, Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray)

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Plane Makers Patrick Wymark

Drama series The Plane Makers took us behind the scenes in the boardroom and shop floor of the Scott Furlong Aircraft Factory. After two seasons the lead character John Wilder took a place on the board of a merchant bank and the series was then renamed The Power Game.

cast
Patrick Wymark as John Wilder
Jack Watling as Don Henderson
Barbara Murray as Pamela Wilder (Seasons 1-2)
Ann Firbank as Pamela Wilder (Season 3)
Reginald Marsh as Arthur Sugden
Alan Dobie as David Corbett

crew details
Creator: Wilfred Greatorex
Producers: Rex Firkin (seasons 1-2), David Reid (season 3)

production details
Country: UK
Network: ITV – ATV
Duration: 57×50 minute episodes
Aired From: 4 February 1963 – 12 January 1965 black and white

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TV

Running Wild (ITV 1987, Ray Brooks, Janet Key)

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Sitcom Running Wild was about the ups and downs of separated couple, Max and Babs, trying to get on with their lives. In season two Max wants to return to his wife but Babs is not so keen.

cast
Ray Brooks as Max Wild
Janet Key as Babs Wild
Sharon Duce as Wanda
Michelle Collins as Stephanie Wild
Peter Amory as Rob
Berwick Kaler as Tom Coleman (Season 1)
Brigit Forsyth as Jenny (Season 2)

crew details
Writer: Philip Trewinnard
Producers: Marcus Plantin (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
Directors: Vic Finch (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: ITV – London Weekend Television
Duration: 13×25 minute episodes
Aired From: 6 March 1987 – 4 June 1989

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