The Likely Lads actor has spoken about the passing of his co-star from the BBC sitcom, Rodney Bewes.

James Bolam as seen in beeb drama New Tricks

The TV Times report that James Bolam had denied the pair had fallen out forty years ago, and reflected on ‘fond’ memories of their time together working for the beeb.

The BBC reported how Bolam had been well-known for guarding his privacy and became outraged with his former colleague and friend following Bewes accidentally letting it let slip out to a newspaper that Bolam’s wife, the actress Susan Jameson, was pregnant. A four-decade long silence between the pair then allegedly followed, so much so, as the beeb also noted, Bolam refused to appear on an edition of This Is Your Life, which featured his former acting partner.

However James Bolam has refuted the claims and spoken in a radio interview of how his time with Rodney Bewes is remembered with “great warmth”. Rodney died on Tuesday aged 79. Along with Bolam they reached up to 20 million viewers as Terry Collier and Bob Ferris in 1960s sitcom The Likely Lads and then again in the ’70s in its revival Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?

After the recording of the 1975 big screen version of the comedy the pair carried on an off-screen friendship, with Bewes once noting “We were great friends…When my babies were born, his was the first house I went to.” However he later noted things turned sour by letting slip some personal information regarding Bolam’s wife and following a ‘fraught phone call’ between the two they never spoke or worked together again. Bolam however told BBC Radio Sussex this wasn’t down to any disagreement, but simply due to busy work schedules.

A scene from the 1960s Likely Lads series

“There was no fall-out at all, as far as I was concerned. We worked together very happily and very well, enjoyed each other’s company and when we finished, we finished. This is what happens in acting. You work with people, you get to know them, you like them, we have a great time and the job finishes and you go off and it all starts again with other people and you can’t keep contact with everybody that you know. I think that Rodney wanted to do some more Likely Lads and I never did, I felt that what we had done was to me so perfect and so right that to try and bring it back [wouldn’t work]…” – James Bolam on BBC local radio

“After we finished it the writers went on to do Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and then they went off to America and the success of that series lay in the strength of those scripts. There was some suggestion that we had other writers come in and I just thought ‘well, I don’t think it will work’ and so I didn’t want to do it, I was busy doing other things.” – James Bolam speaking to the BBC

Related ATV Today feature: Remembering Rodney Bewes

The series followed Bob full of grand aspirations, and fellow working class mate Terry, who was happy to have no great plans and take each day as it came. In the sixties the boys were seen dating and drinking as their adventures in their 20s were followed. The series returned in the 1970s to discover Terry was unchanged from the ‘old days’ while Bob had indeed succeeded to build a middle class lifestyle with a good job, home and forthcoming wedding to a well-to-do wife. The series was set in the North East, and while studio scenes were recorded in London the exterior shots were filmed in and around Gateshead and Newcastle, with the majority of the big-screen film shot on location across Tyneside and Northumberland.

“I just remember [Rodney] with great warmth and with great happiness and the time we had when we actually did the shows, that’s the greatest memory of all. – James Bolam speaking to BBC local radio

Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads arrived on screens in 1973
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