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.

When I'm 65 is repeated on Gold on Sunday 6th December at 8pm.

Series 3, Episode 1 - The Early Birds

After accidentally waking the Leadbetters at an ungodly hour, Tom and Barbara promise future consideration and decide to live their lives by nature's clock while they have so much work to do. However, that soon proves easier said than done.

Further details

The Leadbetters receive a rude awakening from the Goods' rotary cultivator at a very early hour. Just as Tom is about to really get going, Jerry and Margo burst into their garden. They proceed to give the pair an earful about making such a racket at 6am. Tom is unmoved on his stance and tells them to take it up with Mother Nature, who is instructing them herself to do as they are. Jerry warns Tom that unless it stops he may indeed take the matter up with someone. As the Leadbetters retreat, Tom starts the cultivator up again.

Later on, as Tom and Barbara are finishing the washing up she admits she feels lucky to have him around all day as he could well be stuck in an office like Jerry - even if her life would be easier if he were a 9-to-5 man. Tom smiles and produces a home-made gadget designed to make things easier in the garden. The theory is that it will place potatoes in the ground without anyone needing to bend down. He demonstrates and it works perfectly. However, Barbara points out that the potatoes need to be put in the ground facing a specific way in order to grow. Tom's solution is that she can follow him and turn them the right way! It seems they're back to square one.

Margo appears at the door and politely asks for the return of her nutcrackers, which the Goods borrowed in 1967. This gesture is meant to symbolise the cutting of friendly ties between the couples after their early-morning clash. Barbara hands them over and Margo makes to leave. However before she does, Tom apologises and informs Margo that a new protocol will take place from now on. Margo is pleased and gives the nutcrackers back as a gift. Everyone is happy and the Goods head back out to the garden.

Night has fallen when the Goods finally trudge back into the kitchen having planted the annual potato crop. Both look utterly shattered. Barbara helps Tom get his wellies off. They sit and discuss what is still to be done in the garden, which causes Barbara to attempt hysterical laughter. Tom suggests that until the heavy workload is finished they should try living by nature's clock, getting up with the sun and going to bed when the sun goes down. Barbara agrees and they head to bed straight away, but no matter how hard they try and how tired they are, habit keeps them from sleeping as their bodies are not used to such an early bed time - it's hours before midnight yet.

The next morning the couple sit around the kitchen table and it becomes apparent that neither got much sleep. They may have gone to bed with the sun and woken up with the sun, but they played chess and compared top-20-films lists in between! Barbara seems to be the more affected by the lack of sleep and snaps at Tom, who consoles her and takes responsibility for the plan. They gather their tools and head into the garden remembering their promise to Margo and Jerry about keeping the noise down.

Tom tries to silence his milking by placing a sponge in the bottom of his bucket. When the milk turns blue Barbara remembers the sponge was previously used to mop up paraffin. Tom relays his dismay very quietly. He then ponders how he can chop wood without making noise. Barbara casually suggests a rubber axe. Suddenly Jerry appears at the garden fence. Before he has said more than 2 words the Goods tell Jerry that whatever woke him up at this early hour wasn't them as they have been good as gold. Jerry calmly agrees and tells them that he and Margo stayed at a friend's house and have only just got back. Tom calls Jerry a thoughtless swine for not telling them and Jerry disappears, laughing.

That night Tom is ironing the bed sheet to warm it up. He makes sure to iron every inch of his side before performing a few quick swipes of Barbara's side with whatever heat is left in the iron. He dives under the covers and beckons Barbara to join him. She enters from the hall with a tray loaded with board games and admits she is not convinced that adjusting to nature's clock is as easy as they think it is, and they'll have another sleepless evening. As Tom tries to provide his own thoughts on the situation she falls asleep sitting upright! Tom jumps out of bed and attempts to manoeuvre Barbara but she falls horizontally across both sides. Tom nevertheless tucks her in and snuggles into a free corner.

Time passes and the Goods have somehow managed to find themselves in their correct positions in bed. Sudden noise of car doors slamming and conversations outside wake them up. Tom thinks it's people from the avenue and they try to get back to sleep, but music starts playing and he is compelled into action. Getting out of bed to investigate at the window, Tom is horrified to report that the Leadbetters are having a party! Recalling all the warnings of neighbourly consideration, they decide action is necessary.

Marching to the Leadbetters', they hammer at the door until Margo finally answers. They demand to know what is going on and does she know what time of night it is? She does. It's half past 8. Tom and Barbara are embarrassed to find that they have been asleep for only half and hour. Standing in Margo and Jerry's hallway, dressed in pyjamas and gowns, they are soon joined by Jerry who he suggests they enjoy the party. Before they walk in Margo asks them if they are going to change. Tom says no as these are their best clothes!

Later, the party is going well but Margo looks troubled. Jerry asks if there is a problem only to discover himself that Barbara and Tom are collapsed sitting in the middle of the party, fast asleep from exhaustion.

Broadcast details

Friday 10th September 1976
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Richard Briers Tom Good
Felicity Kendal Barbara Good
Penelope Keith Margo Leadbetter
Paul Eddington Jerry Leadbetter
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 39 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, lighting designer, production designer, costume designer, editor, production assistant & sound designer credits for this episode.

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?