British Comedy Guide

The Good Life. Image shows from L to R: Tom Good (Richard Briers), Barbara Good (Felicity Kendal). Copyright: BBC.

The Good Life

BBC One sitcom about a couple practicing self-sufficiency. 30 episodes (4 series), 1975 - 1978. Stars Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington.

Series 1, Episode 5 - The Thing In The Cellar

As the Goods are removed from the electricity grid, Tom creates a generator which turns the waste from his animals into electricity. However, when it's finally called into use, the generator packs up, and Tom grovels to Jerry for use of his freezer.

Full synopsis

Tom is building a generator as the Goods have been cut off by the electricity board. Barbara greets Jerry and Margot at the door to be given a present: candles! They have learned on the television that there are going to be strikes affecting power generation soon, and have stocked up on candles in preparation.

Charitably, Margot offers Barbara a pack. However Barbara politely refuses and explains that they have swapped their TV for a 50 gallon effluence digester which should give them electricity, if Tom knows what he is talking about. Jerry ventures down into the cellar for a demonstration as he is by no means convinced that Tom's idea can be realised.

And then there was light... eventually! Tom marches upstairs to share his delight with Barbara; however this causes friction between Margot and Jerry over their electricity bill. Tom's success at inventing causes him and Barbara to deliver a moving speech directed at the poor unfortunates of this world who do not possess their own generator. A point to the Goods! However Jerry asks what they will be having for lunch. The Goods are well and truly beaten here and so the Leadbetters get a point themselves, much to the delight of Margot.

Whilst Tom is working in the garden, Jerry proposes a fishing trip. Tom is unsure as he just does not have the time for leisure in his hectic schedule. Barbara however thinks Tom should go as fish equals food. She brings out a book of forgotten foods in which many unfashionable fish are included. The book teaches of a rather cheap way of living, so Tom is won over and joins Jerry for the trip. He manages to acquire a catch of 'quantity rather than quality', and although advised to throw them back due to their size, Tom refuses and very nearly gets involved in a fight.

The following day Jerry is called over to look after the house as the Goods are going to collect wood from a fallen tree that the council has declared fair game to anyone who wants it. Jerry is told he is to look out for an electrician who is coming to inspect Tom's wiring on the generator. As Tom and Barbara drive off in Jerry's car, he falls asleep. When he wakes up the generator has stopped. Tom returns and identifies the problem, unfortunately it means a new part is necessary and that the generator will be out of action for a few days.

This means the fish will not survive the night unless the Leadbetters have any room in their fridge. Luckily for Tom and Barbara they do - unluckily for Tom and Barbara, Surbiton is having a power cut. Tom's mocking of people without generators is fresh in Jerry's ears and he takes a lot of satisfaction in the irony of the situation.

Broadcast details

Friday 2nd May 1975
30 minutes


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