Monday, April 9, 2012

A Likely Story

Terry & Bob 1964-66
For the last two or three months I've been slowly making my way through a box set of the Likely Lads sitcoms. I was too young for the first series which ran from 1964-66 but it was great to watch them in retrospect... well, 8 of them, 12 are 'lost'. The follow-up series, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, ran from 1973-74. There was a feature film too, in 1976.

So anyway, it's as funny/sad as I remembered it, in the best tradition of Brit sitcoms. Two northern twentysomething lads: Bob, aspiring to 'get on in life'; Terry: working-class, lazy and proud of it; but both hanging on to their friendship and their love of booze, football and 'chasing skirt'. In the first series they are footloose and fancy-free, while in the follow-up Bob becomes married, mortgaged and middle-class while Terry remains on the dole, without responsibilities and bitter (like his choice of drink).

Bob & Terry 1973-74
The Whatever Happened to series is particularly poignant. It captures a Britain (Tyneside actually) blighted by economic crises, decaying landscapes and terrible clothes. And the interiors. Unbelievable interiors. But it is the ever-present harking back to innocent childhoods that dominates, captured perfectly in the theme song (which made the lower reaches of the Top 40 in 1973). Altogether now: Ooh what happened to you? Whatever happened to me? What became of the people we used to be? Tomorrow’s almost over, today went by so fast. Is the only thing to look forward to, the past?

Do they make them like this any more?


  1. The original was just generic Northern, while the "whatever happened to.." was set in the Newcastle area. Shots & references to actual places, which added interest for us from the area. Not that either of the 2 actors were from Newcastle - Bolam has been born in Sunderland!