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 7 - The Last Posh Frock

After constantly being treated like one of the lads, the life of self sufficency upsets Barbara who admits to missing feeling like a woman. Tom eventually realises that Barbara gave up more than he did when they traded lives and performs a selfless act to try and help.

Further details

Margo and Barbara are in the Leadbetter sitting room. Barbara is waiting for a lift to the iron mongers from Jerry. As they wait they reminisce about a holiday both couples took to Scotland with some photos of the trip. Barbara comments on how attractive she used to appear and even Margo admits to having been slightly jealous, 'but not now of course'. After the pair agree to change the subject, Jerry enters. It seems he can't get the car to start. He is just about to call a mechanic when Barbara asks him to let her have a look at it first.

Tom wanders over to the Leadbetters who are standing beside their car in the avenue. He asks why they haven't given Barbara a lift but soon realises when he sees her under the car. Barbara emerges having diagnosed the problem but admits not being able to treat it. Jerry, who is determined to spend money today it would seem, goes to call for a tow truck. Tom points out that the garage is only 200 yards down the road and that they should push it. As Jerry gets to the back of the car, Tom tells him to get in and steer. Jerry suggests this may be a better role for Barbara but Tom laughs at the suggestion Barbara is a girl. The Goods proceed to push the car down the road.

When Tom and Barbara reach home, Barbara is annoyed that Jerry offered her a pint as a reward as its a man's drink. To make things worse a passer-by thanks her for directions by saying 'thanks sunny'.

Barbara enters the kitchen wearing her best dress. Soon after, Tom enters having made the elusive trip to the iron mongers to get his new valve. He is so entranced by the valve that he doesn't even acknowledge Barbara, who does everything she can to draw his gaze. When he finally sees the dress his response is that she should put some trousers on as there is work to be done in the cellar. This sends her into a mad mood. She accidentally tears her dress and explains to Tom she only wore it so that she could feel like a woman as these days she is not so sure that she is. She leaves slowly to get changed leaving Tom none the wiser as he plays with his valve.

Jerry and Margo are in their sitting room combining their efforts to see if the car is ready for collection when Tom drops by. He cordially invites the Leadbetters for a small dinner party he is organising as Barbara is expecting an old school friend to stay.

The night of the dinner party arrives. Tom is in the sitting room preparing the table. Barbara enters the room under dressed for the occasion but explains that it is all she has left. Barbara is not as happy as Tom hoped she would be as she doesn't feel attractive or like a woman. Tom decides to remind her of what she signed up for a few years ago. He explains that they left all the 'suburban rubbish' behind them and she needs to accept that. He tells her that no matter what she looks like he will only ever have eyes for her. This does make Barbara feel better. Just then the door bell rings. Barbara grudgingly goes to answer the door admitting to Tom he is right. She returns with her old friend Ilene who is wearing a show-stopping dress. Tom stares and giggles like a child when he sees her. Ilene introduces herself and Tom can only reply in mumbles and giggles. He darts over to the sofa to plump a pillow for her before offering her the drinks list with considerable vigour. Barbara stands silently as she watches.

Jerry and Margo sit with cups of coffee at the end of the evening as Tom and Barbara can be heard saying their goodbyes to Ilene. Tom walks back in and begins to talk with only one subject on his mind. Jerry does his best to bring the conversation back to Barbara but Tom doesn't take the hint. Jerry decides the next best thing is to leave the scene before the battle begins and ushers Margo from the room. When she asks what the hurry is about he claims to have 'one of her headaches'. Barbara takes a few moments to find the words and then lets Tom know exactly what she thinks of him and his behaviour during the evening. She brands him a liar as he would not take his eyes off Ilene all night after stating he was only interested in the 'beer and not the bottle' in their conversation earlier that evening. The war of words continues with Tom being anything but tactful or considerate towards Barbaras feelings. He essentially claims a posh frock would be wasted on her due to lack of use. The heated exchange culminates in red wine being spilled down Barbara's top, however Barbara says it doesn't matter because she is wearing girl's clothes and she shouldn't have been wearing them in the first place. Barbara leaves the room in a far from good mood.

Jerry is working in the garage. Tom walks in and says hello before pacing the room examining every tool Jerry has to offer. Eventually after a minute of silence Tom laughs and says 'Women, eh?' hoping for some male support from Jerry. Unfortunately for Tom he is offered no such thing, as Jerry blames Tom for his behaviour around the dinner table. He also tells Tom that Barbara sacrificed a lot more than Tom did when they took on their lifestyle and that this is no way to treat her. Tom is guilt tripped out of the room.

He goes home and apologises to Barbara who is busy renovating the torn dress into something new. She shows Tom her new outfit (with matching shawl!) but Tom tells her he doesn't like it. He exits the kitchen and returns with a black box. 'It's a posh frock' he announces as he puts it on the table and stands in the corner. Barbara takes out the dress. Tom tells her he had to sell a few things when she asks how he could afford it.

Jerry and Margo are in their sitting room. Jerry is frustrated as it seems Margo made an appearance at the garage in order to hurry up the return of the car. The manager called Jerry claiming one of his men had been the victim of assault! Barbara enters in her new dress followed by Tom in a mixture of two suits. The other three tell him to change but he admits his trousers were ruined in the garden while his other suit was one of the things he sold to buy the dress. Margo tells him that she will be proud to dine with him after performing such an unselfish act.... as long as he sits out of view in the restaurant.

Broadcast details

Friday 22nd 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
Liz Robertson Eileen
Ronald Nunnery Man in Street
Writing team
John Esmonde Writer
Bob Larbey Writer
Production team
John Howard Davies Director
John Howard Davies Producer

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