The Liver Birds. Image shows from L to R: Beryl Hennessey (Polly James), Sandra Hutchinson (Nerys Hughes). Copyright: BBC
The Liver Birds

The Liver Birds

  • TV sitcom
  • BBC One
  • 1969 - 1996
  • 86 episodes (10 series)

Sitcom exploring the lives and loves of two young, single females sharing a flat together in Liverpool. Stars Nerys Hughes, Polly James, Elizabeth Estensen, Pauline Collins, Mollie Sugden and more.

The Liver Birds. Image shows from L to R: Sandra Hutchinson (Nerys Hughes), Beryl Hennessey (Polly James). Copyright: BBC

Key details

1969 - 1996
86 (1 pilot + 10 series), plus 1 short special
Carla Lane and Myra Taylor
Nerys Hughes, Polly James, Elizabeth Estensen, Pauline Collins, Mollie Sugden, Michael Angelis, John Nettles, Eileen Kennally and more
Carla Lane, Myra Taylor and Lew Schwarz
Sydney Lotterby and Angie De Chastelai Smith
Douglas Argent, Roger Race, Sydney Lotterby, Philip Kampff, Carla Lane and Geoffrey Perkins

Seen by some as a female version of The Likely Lads, The Liver Birds centres on two perky single girls who share a bedsit in Huskisson Street, Liverpool, where their life revolves around romance, finance and family troubles.

Initially, the two girls are wacky Beryl and prim Dawn, but the first series (resulting from a 1969 Comedy Playhouse pilot) runs to only four episodes.

With the return of The Liver Birds (in 1971), Dawn has disappeared and in her place is the naive and ingenuous Sandra. A year later, the girls move to a more spacious apartment and, when Beryl leaves (to marry Robert, a Londoner played by Jonathan Lynn) at the end of the fourth series, Sandra gains a new flatmate, Carol, whose voice and dress sense both need volume controls.

Also seen over the years are Sandra's boyfriend, Paul (a pre-Bergerac John Nettles), her snooty mother and various members of Beryl's and Carol's families. Possibly best remembered is Carol's brother, Lucien, who keeps and loves rabbits, but her Catholic mother is another notable creation, as she proves to be a forerunner for Bread's Nellie Boswell (writer Carla Lane even gave her the same surname). Before the series ends, Sandra has married Derek, her vet boss, and Carol has moved in as their lodger.

In 1996, BBC One revived the series, bringing back Beryl as a lodger in Sandra's house. Beryl has been married three times, while Sandra is now looking after her demanding mother and trying to maintain a relationship with boyfriend Rex. Also seen is Beryl's son, Gwyn. Somewhat confusingly, actress Carmel McSharry is brought back to play Beryl's mum (she had played Carol's mum previously), and Michael Angelis returns as Lucien, this time Beryl's brother.

Additional details

Part of

Comedy Playhouse

Camera set-up
Theme music by The Scaffold. Incidental music composed by Ronnie Hazlehurst.

Website links

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Monday 14th April 1969 at 7:30pm on BBC One
Most recent repeats

Recording details

  • BBC Television Centre - Studios
  • Liverpool - Locations

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