The Good Life. Image shows from L to R: Margo Leadbetter (Penelope Keith), Tom Good (Richard Briers), Jerry Leadbetter (Paul Eddington), 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 3, Episode 1 is repeated on Gold today at 3:40pm.

Series 1, Episode 7 - Backs To The Wall

Whilst in the garden Tom feels a twinge in his back which later requires medical attention. Their harvest urgently needs gathering but it'll take Barbara alone a full week to collect - and there are storms brewing. Can anyone assist?

Further details

Tom and Barbara venture to their local for the evening and learn that Margo and Jerry are heading to Kenya the following day. Tom lets the pub know that they are always welcome to help in the Good garden and will be rewarded with home-made wine.

Some time later Tom and Barbara are in the garden. They are preparing to bring in the harvest but sadly nobody from the pub has appeared to help. The workload seems to have taken its toll on Tom's back. He winces several times before heading inside. They take time to read postcards from the Leadbetters before the kettle boils. As Tom stands up to make the tea, his back totally locks up and he is in crippling pain.

The doctor is called. She asks Tom some questions about his workload and examines his back whilst he lies on the sofa, helpless. Writing a prescription for some pain killers, she advises Tom to take rest. He's particularly upset as this is bad news for the harvest. He rolls onto the floor and attempts to move but can manage no more than a crawl. Barbara enters and makes a bed for him on the ground; she then orders an early night knowing that she will need to be up early to start gathering the harvest if it is to be a one person job. As she leaves Tom alone in the darkness, the first signs of a thunderstorm are heard and Tom sulks as he was planning a late night...

The next morning Barbara wakes Tom and gives him a pair of walking sticks to help him to get about. The pair venture outdoors to collect some eggs for breakfast only to discover their own personal Dresden in the garden: fences are down, vegetables are ruined and one of the pigs is deeply engaged in the cabbage patch. To say that Tom thinks the dream is over would be an understatement but Barbara refuses to buy his understandable pessimism.

Never the less, the crop must be collected: and now even more quickly, as it will rot within a few days if left in the waterlogged ground. Normally the Leadbetters would be on hand to request assistance from, but they're still in Kenya! Barbara remembers their friends in the local and hurries to the pub to plead assistance. Hoping that everyone will pitch in she delivers an impassioned speech - sadly it is met with quick breaks for the exit!

Barbara returns home alone to find that Tom has used a month's tea ration in order to make four pots for the workers. He suggests it is time to accept defeat but Barbara refuses and steps out into the garden to begin her work of harvesting alone.

Fourteen hours later, darkness has fallen over the Good household. Barbara enters the kitchen, caked in mud and wheeling a large sack of potatoes. Tom forbids her from going out again and she agrees to take a five minute break. He confides his guilt to Barbara about how the self-sufficiency was his idea and how he has forced her to make so many sacrifices - and now to top it all she must gather the crop alone. As Tom plans his return to his day job, he turns to see that Barbara has fallen asleep at the table in total exhaustion.

The next morning Barbara is woken by Tom's cheerful whistling. He enters the kitchen with what appears to be one of his walking sticks with a sieve attached to the end. He tips two potatoes into a half filled bag. Just as Barbara thinks Tom is finally starting to believe in the cause again he drops a bombshell, admitting he thinks that a third of the crop will rot due to lack of time. The Goods need a miracle.

Then the couple hear two magic words: 'Morning, peasants!', as Jerry pops his head around the door. It appears Margo quickly fell out of love with Kenya, forcing him to cut their holiday short. The Goods update him as to their plight but he seems less than enthusiastic about helping: it seems he is injured too, and presents a lower leg and ankle completely encased in a plaster cast!

We move to the garden and see the three of them doing their best to collect the harvest. Jerry keeps being sucked down by the mud and requires assistance from Barbara to pull him back out. Tom is collecting potatoes two at a time still. All of a sudden there is a dazzling glow as Margo enters the scene in a banana yellow waterproof suit, wellingtons and a rain hat.

She proceeds to pick one runner bean at a time, much to the annoyance of Tom as it is not very efficient. His reaction very nearly sends Margo home but some well chosen words from Barbara bring her back. After so much panic and worry the harvest finally is collected and the four stand back to admire their work.

Broadcast details

Friday 16th May 1975
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Richard Briers Tom Good
Felicity Kendal Barbara Good
Penelope Keith Margo Leadbetter
Paul Eddington Jerry Leadbetter
Guest cast
June Jago The Doctor
Billy Milton George
Pamela Manson Molly
Frank Lester Ron the Landlord
Harry Goodier Harry
Writing team
John Esmonde Writer
Bob Larbey Writer
Production team
John Howard Davies Director
John Howard Davies Producer

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • Broadcast details of 57 further repeats of this episode
  • BCG Pro business users can see additional crew credits  
    If you join BCG Pro business, you can see composer, make-up designer, editor, lighting designer, production designer, costume designer & production assistant credits for this episode.

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?