First Episode of The Good Life
The 4th of April 1975 AD
As we British slowly realise food security applies to us as well as Africa; the middle classes have embraced allotments; and millions daily question their consumerist way of life, we may reflect on how prescient The Good Life was.
Tom and Barbara Good, played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal , were eco-warriors before the term existed, Tomís 40th birthday having forced him to consider what itís all about. Unlike most he is actually spurred to action, swapping their comfily bourgeois Surbiton lifestyle for a demanding and risky self-sufficient one Ė still to great comic effect in Surbiton (though the show was actually filmed in Northwood ).
But the programme wasnít a propaganda vehicle, it was a comedy, and sometimes of the all-too-rare belly-laugh variety Ė the effects of pea-pod burgundy; Tomís homespun clothes; and the impoverished couple working briefly as servants for their friends and neighbours being three such moments.
Given their subsequent careers it is difficult to think that of the four main actors only Richard Briers was well-known when the programme began: Paul Eddington of course went on to the sublime Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister; Penelope Keith starred in To the Manor Born; and Felicity Kendal became a national sweetheart and leading stage actress. Richard Briers perhaps more than any of them, however, developed into one of our great actors, whether it be on television in Ever Decreasing Circles or adding weight to Morse, Midsomer Murders, in the cinema in Much Ado About Nothing or As You Like It for Kenneth Branagh , or on stage.
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