The Good Life
has proved an enduring jewel in the BBC's mainstream comedy archive. More than 25 years after it first appeared in our living rooms, nostalgia must be a major reason for its appeal. A whole generation of young men--and their fathers--found the weekly sight of Felicity Kendal as Barbara Good, pert in denim dungarees, irresistible. But it's the quality of the playing that has really stood the test of time and triumphs over a premise--self-sufficiency in Surbiton--that now seems naïve. Even in 1975, a Tom Good (a masterpiece of comic eccentricity from Richard Briers) quitting the rat race would probably have sold up his semi and chanced his luck as a small holder somewhere more remote than suburban Surrey.
Comic tensions arise not just from the Goods' daily struggle to beat the system on their own terms, but also from the relationship with their incredulous, often horrified, but usually supportive neighbours. Penelope Keith's Margo Leadbetter remains one of the great comic creations in British sitcom history--a simmering volcano of conservatism waging her own battle against creeping mediocrity in all aspects of life, whose human frailty somehow keeps her loveable. Paul Eddington as Jerry, her long-suffering husband, spars splendidly. These are happy memories indeed. --Piers Ford
The complete fourth series of the classic self-sufficiency sitccom. In 'Away From It All' Jerry (Paul Eddington) and Margo (Penelope Keith) agree to look after the livestock when Tom (Richard Briers) and Barbara (Felicity Kendal) decide to go on holiday. 'The Green Door' has Tom and Barbara become suspicious that Margo might be seeing another man. 'Our Speaker Today' sees Barbara find success as a public speaker. 'The Weaver's Tale' finds Tom doing his best to persuade his neighbours to buy a spinning wheel. In 'Suit Yourself' Tom and Barbara try their hand at making their own clothes. 'Sweet and Sour Charity' has Margo take umbrage at a local production of 'Sweet Charity'. And 'Anniversary' sees Margo install a new security alarm. Also includes 'When I'm 65', a Royal Command Performance from 1978, which finds Tom and Barbara concerned about what will become of them in their old age.