The Good Life

Tom and Barbara of The Good Life in their gardenMost people who decide to go self sufficient will move to the country to live the good life on a farm. Tom and Barbara Good didn’t want to move so they converted their suburban semi into a small holding, much to the dismay of Margot and Jerry, their neighbours. This was the premise of the sit-com The Good Life which was one of my favourite adult programs when I was a child.

The main reason that I loved it was because it seemed so lovely to be able to live off the land like that, grow your own food, make your own clothes etc. Though it seems in retrospect (repeats on satellite) that it is a bit too twee and not realistic at all. It was, apparently, based on a true story of a couple who did just what Tom and Barbara have done. But probably with a lot more hard work and less laughs. The run-in with the local fruit&veg seller could have been much more dangerous for instance.

Tom and Barbara on left, Margot and Jerry on rightThe comedy stems from the difficulties Tom and Barbara encounter by trying to live a simple life in complex surroundings. For instance they have no income and have to pay their rates, so raid a pennies jar and go to the council offices with a large bag of coins. After they’ve paid the tax, as they walk through town they realise that they have no money left in the world, and Barbara needs the toilet but they have no penny for the public loo.

There is also a lot of comedy surrounding Margot’s distaste at the home-made food and wine Tom and Barbara serve when she visits, and the mud in their garden. There is nearly always a scene where Margot falls into something horrible or gets splashed and of course she is very fashion-conscious with high heels and expensive clothes. Margot was very houseproud and Jerry generally portrayed as hen-pecked.

Bird and flower from opening credits of The Good LifeThe opening credits were an animation of a bird flying around a daisy which loses its petals and they are replaced by the letters of the title. I really liked that as it was quite simple and very Seventies. Huge flowers and birds were ‘in’.

Tom and Jerry annoyed me but I loved Barbara and thought Margot was fabulous. Barbara was played by Felicity Kendall and Margot by Penelope Keith. These were my favourite characters, though according to Wikipedia, the show was written as a vehicle for Richard Briers who played Tom.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


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