Barbara. Image shows from L to R: Neil Liversidge (Benedict Sandiford), Barbara Liversidge (Gwen Taylor). Image credit: Central Independent Television.


No-nonsense Yorkshire housewife Barbara Liversage imposes herself as the agony aunt and problem-solver for her extended family

Comedy Firsts - Barbara (Pilot)
1995 - 2003  (ITV)
29 (pilot + 3 series)
Gwen Taylor, Sam Kelly, Madge Hindle, Mark Benton, Elizabeth Carling, Sherrie Hewson, Benedict Sandiford, John Arthur
Mark Bussell, Rob Clark, Ramsay Gilderdale, Graham Mark Walker, Justin Sbresni
Central Independent Television
& Carlton Television

Barbara Liversage is blunt, opinionated, and often just plain rude. With a part-time job in a doctor's surgery, the no-nonsense Yorkshire wife lives with her unassuming, mild-mannered taxi driver husband Ted, and their adult son Neil.

Regularly raising Barbara's frustrations with the modern world are daughter Linda and her useless TV presenter husband Martin, sister Jean, her friend and colleague Doreen, and the assortment of workmen, delivery boys, salesmen, shopkeepers and sick members of the public who she is forced to put up with on a daily basis.

Our Review: Whilst not 'great', Barbara was astonishingly good for an ITV sitcom in the mid 1990s; a consistently high gag rate kept the show enjoyable pretty much throughout, and the large writing team ensured that there were plenty of scenarios to subject the characters to.

However, the broad, farcical, and relatively family-friendly style of the humour should be pointed out as not being entirely en vogue at the time. This, coupled with the occasionally overly-brash nature of Barbara herself, meant that whilst popular, the series was never destined for the massive ongoing success or popularity of other shows in a similar vein.

Having said that, we at the BCG really enjoy Barbara - it's one of those real guilty pleasure shows that we can just sit, watch and relax. And we're always guaranteed a laugh: whilst there are a couple of stand-out excellent episodes, none dip below the standard set through the series. Quite an achievement.

Our only real complaint is that the series ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger: what we want to know is, who really did shoot Barbara?