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. --Piers Ford
Four episodes from the second series of the self sufficiency sitcom. In 'The Day Peace Broke Out', Tom (Richard Briers) finds himself facing a prison sentence after using his air pistol to shoot a man he caught stealing his leaks. 'Mutiny' sees Jerry (Paul Eddington) out of a job after actually standing up to his boss for once. In 'Home Sweet Home', Tom becomes taken with the idea of buying a farm which is for sale, but Barbara (Felicity Kendal) is reluctant to move. 'Going to Pot?' sees Tom turning into a cottage industry when he takes up pottery at evening class.