We’ve had Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em take to the stage, and now its the turn of another classic 1970s BBC sitcom to ‘go live’ in the theatre.
Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers in the BBC sitcom, The Good Life.
A new version of The Good Life adapted and directed by Jeremy Sams will star Katherine Parkinson as Barbara Good. Best known for her roles in The IT Crowd, for which she received a British Comedy Best TV Actress Award and a BAFTA Television Award, Humans and Doc Martin.
The iconic TV sitcom that delighted countless millions in the 1970s – and proves ever popular with repeats on UKTV’s Gold channel – has been adapted for the stage and will make its World Premiere at Theatre Royal Bath as part of their 2020 Summer Season.
Based on the television series by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey the play leads the much-loved characters – not forgetting Geraldine the goat – through various adventures, some old, some new, all hilarious and often, even today, worryingly familiar. Remember the Goods – Tom and Barbara, suburban eco-warriors?
And their next-door neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter, desperately trying to maintain the Surbiton status quo? Well, they’re back – and on stage for the first time in The Good Life a theatrical reimagining of the much-loved TV series which won millions of ardent viewers. This new play celebrates a time when, whatever our differences, we still managed to get on with our neighbours.
All additional casting and further plans for the production to be announced later in the year. ‘Jolly Good’ as Tom would say. The Good Life will receive its world premiere at Theatre Royal, Bath from the 4th – 20th June 2020. More details on times and tickets; www.theatreroyal.org.uk
The Good Life TV Stars
Richard Briers as Tom Good in The Good Life, BBC.
Richard Briers played Tom Good in the television series. His 50-year performing career took in theatre, movies, radio, stage and of course the small screen. Tom in The Good Life arguably his best loved role. Other TV credits included Hector in Monarch of the Glen (2000–05), George Starling in Marriage Lines (1961–66) and Martin in Ever Decreasing Circles (1984–89).
Born in January 1934 in Raynes Park, Surrey, he worked in clerical and filing jobs before national service in the RAF. In 1954 he looked towards becoming a professional actor and spent two years studying at RADA. This lead to reparatory theatre work and by 1959 was working professionally in the West End.
Briers was appointed OBE in 1989, and CBE in 2003. Richard died in February 2013 aged 79.
Felicity Kendal as Barbara Good in The Good Life, BBC.
Felicity Kendal played Tom’s wife Barbara Good in the television version. Her years across stage and television have taken in many roles, but it is still Barbara that most fondly remember Felicity for.
The Good Life was Felicity’s big break, appearing in all 30 episodes over the four series screened between 1975 and 1978. Kendal made her stage debut aged nine months, when she was carried on stage as a changeling boy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From a theatrical background she gained early performing experience via her father’s work as an actor and production manager who led his own repertory company.
Kendal made her television debut in ATV’s Love Story drama series and her professional stage debut a year later in London. Other small roles followed including in ITC’s action series Man in a Suitcase, Granada Television’s ITV Play of the Week, ITC detective series Jason King and BBC One’s The Wednesday Play. In more recent years she appeared in popular drama Rosemary And Thyme opposite Pam Ferris in the lead roles as gardeners who end up solving murder mysteries.
Kendal was honoured in the 1995 New Year Honours for services to drama.
Penelope Keith as Margo Leadbetter in The Good Life, BBC.
Penelope Keith played snobby next-door neighbour Margo Leadbetter. Penelope was born in Sutton in February 1940 and when she decided to become a performer she joined the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, studying for two years. This lead to Keith having a successful career working in repertory theatre around Britain.
Penelope made her television debut in Granada Television sitcom The Army Game in 1957. She later took in a serious part in ATV’s Emergency Ward 10 drama spin-off Call Oxbridge 2000. Other parts included in BBC One’s police drama Dixon of Dock Green, Yorkshire Television’s Hadleigh, ATV’s Love Story and soap roles in ATV’s Honey Lane and Emergency Ward 10. But it would be two roles that Penelope would become synonymous with, Margo in The Good Life and later Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in To The Manor Born.
She was awarded the CBE in 2007’s New Years Honours and was made a Dame in 2014.
Paul Eddington as Jerry Leadbetter in The Good Life, BBC.
Paul Eddington played Jerry Leadbetter in The Good Life. Paul was born in London in June 1927. Eddington began his acting career as a teenager with Entertainments National Service Association during the Second World War, then went on to perform with a repertory theatre company in Sheffield. Paul made his first TV appearance in 1956 as a regular cast member of ITC period action drama The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Other television appearances included in several of the ITC adventure series’ such as Ivanhoe, Danger Man and Sword of Freedom as well as BBC police series Dixon of Dock Green, Thames Television’s Armchair Theatre and BBC cop show Z Cars. He was so prolific on ATV/ITC series that when BBC Two celebrated the former ITV company in 1995 a whole section of the ATV Night clip show ‘A to Z of ATV‘ was dedicated to Paul.
Paul, like his on-screen wife Penelope Keith in The Good Life, became best remembered for two TV parts. Firstly Jerry Leadbetter and latterly as Jim Hacker in Yes Minister (1980–84) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986–88). Paul was made a CBE in the 1987 New Year Honours and died aged 68 in 1995.
The Good Life sitcom can be seen regularly currently on UKTV’s Gold channel.