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 at 8pm.

Series 3, Episode 4 - I Talk To The Trees

A fellow gardener inspires Tom and Barbara to conduct some unusual experiments in order to increase the yield of their produce.

Further details

Margo has inspired an extraordinary meeting to elect a new President for her music society without the old one knowing. Margo fears that one of the Goods experiments has cost her the chance of getting the role but everything works out in the end.

The Goods are working hard on their allotment when they spot a fellow gardener in his green house. They decide to offer him a cup of tea and walk in on him talking to himself. When he explains that he is in fact talking to his vegetables the Goods become even more surprised. Mr Wakely explains that all living things should do their best to live in harmony and speech is merely a manifestation of feeling. As sceptical as Tom is he cant argue with the quality of Mr Wakely's vegetables. When he begins to play some classical music to his tomatoes however, the Goods decide to leave.

Tom and Barbara make the journey home on their rotary cultivator with a sea of children following them and their strange contraption. They enter the kitchen and unpack some firewood and briefly talk about their childhood until there is a knock on the door. Margo appears and sarcastically thanks Tom and Barbara for encouraging the children from the council estate into the avenue. It seems the noise of the children disrupted a meeting in Margo's drawing room between her and some members of the music society. The members in person were encouraging Margo to run for president. Margo asks Tom and Barbara nicely to lay low this week so that no more of these meetings are disrupted as it is likely there may be more. The Goods happily agree.

Tom and Barbara are sat around the kitchen table having dinner. When they finish Tom admits that he has been considering Mr Wakely's theory on talking to plants. Tom tells Barbara she should not have been so quick to 'poo poo' the idea, even though it was Tom who was more sceptical in the green house. Considering they live off their produce, Tom decides he will try anything to increase the yield.

Tom sets up an experiment to test the theory. One plant will act as the control while a second will receive 20 seconds of praise and encouragement 5 times a day. The third and final plant will receive 20 seconds of 'derision and hate' on 5 occasions daily also. The experiment is far from perfect but is agreed on. As Barbara readies herself to give praise and encouragement she decides talking to a bean is silly! This results in her getting stage fright on her first attempt. She laughs it off and then composes herself for a much more successful attempt second time around. She does the job so well that Tom abruptly stops her as he starts to get jealous! Next its Tom's turn to be hateful but admits he is not in a hating mood. Barbara quickly lets slip that they have had a nasty letter from the Inland Revenue and suddenly Tom is raring to go but is interrupted by Jerry entering. We learn Margo is in a music society meeting, plotting the downfall of the current president. As Jerry accepts a lunch invitation, Tom asks for 20 seconds of quiet to which Jerry immediately obliges. Without any explanation to Jerry, Tom launches a scathing tirade on the poor bean. Jerry is hardly surprised at these antics after so many years of guilt by association. The Goods however offer him an explanation and of course Jerry offers some gentle derision of his own. When Tom offers to share his views on vegetable empathy over lunch, Jerry decides a Ploughman's at the pub is a much better idea. He swiftly leaves, not however before bidding mock farewell to most of the fixtures!

The next morning Barbara is excited to find that the beans have grown! Tom ambles in wearing his dressing gown and conducts the measuring. It seems the praise being given to Specimen A (or Douglas) is working as it is the biggest. Barbara is elated but Tom remains calm as it is only day 1 of the test. He does however produce an old record player which he plans to play to the plants in the greenhouse to test another of Mr Wakely's theories. Tom plays Barbara a sample but she dissapears laughing.

Margo is having one of her gatherings in her sitting room. This meeting will elect the new president of the music society. Not everyone is happy however as Margo's opponent is not present due to her being on holiday. Margo dismisses wrong doing by stating sufficient member attendance makes it official. She goes on to list the ways she can improve the society and rounds off by stating that she is happy for her home to be used as a quiet haven for future rehearsal should she be elected. Just then Tom's music begins to pour through the french doors causing Margo to storm over accusing them of deliberate sabotage. Unfortunately for the Goods this is in the middle of their 'praise and encouragement' for Douglas. Barbara is furious but thankfully Jerry walks in to give Margo the good news. Even with the music interrupting she has been chosen as the new president. Margo goes back home while Jerry is left to write a cheque for 2p as damages.

The next day the Goods discuss the music experiment and consider if it would work on animals. Tom doubts it until Barbara shows him a very big egg that she has just collected.

Broadcast details

Friday 1st October 1976
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Richard Briers Tom Good
Felicity Kendal Barbara Good
Penelope Keith Margo Leadbetter
Paul Eddington Jerry Leadbetter
Guest cast
Noel Howlett Mr. Wakeley
Raymond Mason Mr. Chipchase
Joyce Windsor Madame Acting Chairwoman
Writing team
John Esmonde Writer
Bob Larbey Writer
Production team
John Howard Davies Director
John Howard Davies Producer

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