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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 2, Episode 1 is repeated on Gold on Monday 1st October at 9:20pm.

Series 3, Episode 3 - A Tug Of The Forelock

In order to pay for fuel for their new 'transportation' the Goods offer to work for the Leadbetters as cleaners while theirs are away.

Further details

The arrangement does not operate smoothly as Margot has no time for the Goods sense of humour during work hours. However after a swift sacking and a drawn out re-hirnig things are better.

Tom and Barbara struggle to wheel in their buggy as it is finally broken beyond repair. They set it down causing the load to spill. They agree that it is no longer practical. Suddenly they notice Jerry in his garden performing the most incredible act. He is mowing his own lawn... poorly. They mock his efforts until he becomes hostile.

They bring the load in, which in this case is logs for the woodburner. Just then there is a knock at the door. It seems Margot has a crisis! Her vacuum is whistling and will no longer pick up dirt. Tom reaches for his tools but Barbara quickly diagnoses a full bag. Margot's cleaning lady is on holiday and has left Margot to fend for herself. In fact the Pearsons have both gone on holiday leaving Jerry to mow the lawn and Margot to clean. The Goods mock the snobbery displayed by Margot but she admits to not being one of 'nature's little housewives'. Margot leaves and Tom and Barbara get back to their transport problem. They consider making a new buggy, however that still requires being pushed. Suddenly Tom has a brainwave and remembers the rotary cultivator. He draws a diagram and plans how he could adapt it into something they could use for transport. Barbara throws a spanner in the works by saying that petrol cost could be an issue but again Tom uses his paper to do some sums and shows her otherwise. He thinks £30 a year could be enough. However they only have £1.28 in cash to their name. They consider swapping, but have nothing left to swap. Then Barbara has a suggestion but Tom admits he is saving swapping her body for a raiy day. Then it dawns on them that they could do the new workload that the Leadbetters have on offer.

Next door the Leadbetters are close to coming to blows about the situation they find themselves in. As they start to fight Tom and Barbara slip in to interrupt. They can see that Jerry and Margot can't cope and so offer their services. Jerry pounces on the offer but Margot is unsure. She thinks ordering her friends about will be hard. Jerry, however, reminds her that the normal cleaners are not back for a long time. Margot agrees and delivers a long list of jobs within seconds.

Tom is in the shed. Barbara enters and tears a cardboard box to shreds in seconds. It seems Margot's unrealistic expectations are starting to get to Barbara. Tom on the other hand has been left alone by Margot and is putting together his 'transportation'. Barbara asks if they can use it to flatten Margot upon completion but Tom says no. Barbara continues to moan about Margot but Tom is unsympathetic. Just then Margot enters and calmly informs Tom that he is running behind schedule. She then glides out as quietly as she came in. Tom is momentarily outraged before running out of the shed to get to work.

Margot is scrutinising Barbara's work in the sitting room. She finds numerous faults. Jerry returns from work to find her with a lot on her mind. It seems the Goods have been up to no good. Barbara made silhouettes on the projector during a meeting of the Surbiton Ladies Conservative Association and Tom leered in through the window at Mrs Hornsby. Jerry of course finds the whole thing hysterical while Margot is outraged at the behaviour. The Goods enter from the garden. Jerry fakes annoyance with them and they pretend to be workers in return. They do their best to be workers by using an accent and bowing and curtseying to the bosses. They have come to complain that they haven't had any 'wages in ages'. The ridicule is turned on Margot but she can't handle it and runs off in dismay.

Sometime later Margot is tossing salad in the kitchen with particulour vigour. Tom and Barbara enter to try and make ammends. Margot is very snappy and is clearly upset. Tom knows that they like to joke but also knows Margot's expectations. He suggests trying to find a compromise. Margot dismisses his idea however as she has her own suggestion. They inquire as to what it is and are swiftly sacked.

Barbara enters the shed and turns away to cry. Tom follows her and asks her not to but we learn she is laughing at the idea of Margot giving them the sack. They cover up the finished version of their modified rotary cultivator and decide to have an early night... Just as they make to leave, Jerry appears to show that there are no hard feelings from him and to pay the Goods for their work. He also asks what was so important that the Goods actually broke their self sufficient ways to procure it. They show him their creation and learn how long it will run on £22.50. Jerry is hardly bowled over but seems impressed until he asks how much the insurance and road tax are. Tom clearly has overlooked this rather major detail. Jerry laughs mockingly as he leaves.

Margot is in her sitting room attempting to clean. When the Goods declare themselves, Margot is strangely happy to see them. It seems that today they are friends whereas yesterday they were servants, and so there is no more hostility. When Tom understands this he tries to rock the boat again by asking to switch back to servants. Margot wastes little time in refusing this idea. Barbara pleads their case by saying that they are reformed characters and will do the job 'sensibly faced' this time which causes Tom to laugh at exactly the wrong time. Margot again dismisses even the possibility of re-hiring them. Barbara however is determined and tells Margot that its a big house and cleaning it will leave her with very little time for social functions. After this Margot is finally broken and says yes. Then Tom asks for three weeks wages up front. Margot looks scandalised but hands over the money saying that any poor behaviour and she will expect it all back. The three have sherry to celebrate. Tom notices the time and heads to the garden whilst Margot tells Barbara that she'd like her to start polishing. Barbara gets to work with Margot overseeing every stroke she makes.

Sometime later Jerry and Margot exit their house as they plan to drive to the pub. They call over the wall to Tom and Barbara asking if they would like to join them. The pair oblige but say they will drive in their own vehicle. When Margot finally sees it she instructs Jerry to 'drive on', he tells Margot that they dont know the way but once again she instructs him to 'drive on!'.

Broadcast details

Date
Friday 24th September 1976
Time
8:30pm
Channel
BBC One
Length
30 minutes

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    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
    Ian McKendrick Editor
    Paul Munting Production Designer
    Burt Rhodes Composer

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