‘Good Neighbors’ keeps me laughing
When I have that rare moment of quiet, alone time, one of my favorite things to do is brew a cup of tea and watch an episode of “Good Neighbors,” a British sit-com that ran from 1975–78. I used to watch reruns of the program when I was in high school back in the ’80s. Let’s face it, with only three local channels and PBS, the TV pickings were slim so we watched a lot of public television, which is a good thing although I am certain I groused about it then. In addition to the big network programs like “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island, “Dallas” and “Dukes of Hazard,” I could be found watching “Fawlty Towers,” “Masterpiece Theatre” and others, but my favorite was “Good Neighbors.” So for this past Christmas, I unashamedly asked for the complete DVD set and my dad, also a PBS fan, indulged me.
Created by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, the sitcom was called “The Good Life” when it was released and ran in the U.K. When it came to the U.S., the title was changed so as not to be confused with an American sitcom called “The Good Life” starring Larry Hagman and Donna Mills which ran in the early ’70s. (This is according to valdefierro.com which has great information on the show).
The premise is pretty funny and is perfect for the ’70s when the first rays of the “green movement” were really breaking through but is even more funny now. It follows Tom Good (played by Richard Briers) and his wife Barbara (played by Felicity Kendal) who decide they’ve had enough of the rat race and decide to become completely self-sufficient. They convert their suburban London garden into a farm, raise pigs and chickens and grow their own crops — much to the dismay of their still social-ladder-climbing friends and neighbors Margo Leadbetter (Penelope Keith) and her hen-pecked husband Jerry (Paul Eddington). The antics that ensue are rather hilarious, in my opinion, as the dialogue takes pop-shots at both the middle class and green lifestyles.
There are 30 episodes in all and two specials: The 1977 Christmas Special and the Royal Command Performance given for Queen Elizabeth II in June of 1978. You can find more information online (the BBC website is good) and even order the DVD set (Dad got mine on Amazon.com). I am only on the second of the four discs and am taking my time and savoring each episode, despite the fact that my 19-year-old chides me when he catches me watching.
Tuesday Trippier lives in Delaware, is a writer and mother of four with a special interest in learning and writing about green living.