Birds of a Feather

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This article is about the British sitcom. For other uses, see Birds of a Feather (disambiguation).
Birds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather 2014 Title Card.png
Current title card (2014–present)
Created by Laurence Marks
Maurice Gran
Directed by Nick Wood
Starring Current cast
Theme music composer Irving Berlin
Opening theme "What'll I Do?"
Ending theme "What'll I Do?"
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 10
No. of episodes 110 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jon Rolph
Steve Sheen
Producer(s) Jo Willett
Location(s) Teddington Studios (original series)
The London Studios (2014)
Pinewood Studios (2015)
Various outside locations
Running time 30–75 minutes (1989–98)
30 minutes (2014–present)
(including adverts)
Production company(s) Alomo Productions (1989–98)
Retort Productions/Quirkymedia Stuff (2014–)
Distributor FremantleMedia
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One (1989–98)
ITV (2014–)
Original run Original series:
16 October 1989 (1989-10-16) – 24 December 1998 (1998-12-24)
Revived series:
2 January 2014 (2014-01-02)  – present

Birds of a Feather is a British BAFTA-nominated sitcom that was originally broadcast on BBC One from 1989 until 1998. The series was revived 15 years later on ITV in 2014. Starring Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph, it was created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who also wrote some of the episodes along with many other writers.

The first episode sees sisters Tracey Stubbs (Linda Robson) and Sharon Theodopolopodos (Pauline Quirke) brought together when their husbands are sent to prison for armed robbery. Sharon, who lived in an Edmonton council flat, moves into Tracey's expensive house in Chigwell, Essex. Their next-door neighbour, and later friend, Dorien Green (Lesley Joseph) is a middle-aged married woman who is constantly having affairs with younger men. In the last two BBC series, the location is changed to Hainault before returning to Chigwell in Series 10 (the first aired on ITV).

The series ended its original BBC One run on Christmas Eve 1998 after nine years, but returned 15 years later, on 2 January 2014, on ITV, for its tenth series overall, running for eight episodes.[1][2] The opening episode of the new series attracted nearly 8 million viewers, giving ITV its highest rated comedy since Barbara in 2000.[3] Following the success of the show's return, ITV announced a second series (eleventh overall) of eight further episodes that would air in early 2015.[4]

Series[edit]

For sisters Sharon Theodopolopodous and Tracey Stubbs, life is never the same again when their husbands are convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison. Sharon, a common, large and loud-mouthed character from a squalid council flat in Edmonton, moves into her wealthy sister's luxury home in Chigwell, so that the two can give each other support.

Sharon has always felt inadequate next to her slimmer, elder sister Tracey and felt she had the tougher childhood. Her marriage to Chris, a waster of Greek Cypriot descent, was miserable and childless due to Sharon's "infertility." She is condemned by Chris's family for this but Sharon discovers, during series one, that Chris is actually the infertile one and not her. Sharon happily cheats on Chris and gives him grief when visiting. Despite this, she only ever makes half-hearted attempts to divorce him.

Tracey on the other hand loves her husband, Darryl, whose legitimate business was building conservatories, however he made most of his wealth from robbing banks. Unlike Sharon who tends to be more realistic regarding their husbands, Tracey often deludes herself into believing her husband is innocent, especially in the Christmas Special "The Chigwell Connection", and when Darryl is finally released in series seven, she once again grows naive and gullible, which leads to Darryl defrauding her out of her business assets. He and Tracey have a son, Garth, who becomes a chef after going to boarding school, and eventually marries Kimberley; this marriage doesn't last as in series ten, Garth has moved to Australia and started a relationship with a girl named Marcie.

The sisters' neighbour is the wealthy, snobbish, man-eating Dorien Green, a middle-aged woman who strives to create the impression that she is a glamorous young beauty, and who dresses in a sexually provocative style, preferring mini skirts, high heels and leopard prints. Dorien is married to the rarely seen Marcus, but is always getting involved with other men, with hilarious consequences. Dorien and Marcus are Jewish. Her marriage was also childless, due to her vanity and the lack of affection between her and Marcus. She is a regular, if uninvited, guest at Tracey's house, and mocks Sharon about her weight, whilst Sharon teases Dorien about her lifestyle and age. This mutual teasing is friendly and playful rather than serious or hurtful, and it is often shown that Sharon and Tracey care for Dorien and vice versa. If any of them get into trouble or have a problem, the others are often the first to help, regardless of the consequences.

Although Dorien had several flings with younger men, Luke Horton was her most frequent lover and she appeared to genuinely love him, from the first series until he left Dorien for a younger woman in the second series. He later appeared in the eight series, his first and only appearance, where it is revealed he has married and settled down. Dorien's nemesis is the acid-tongued Melanie Fishman, a vindictive gossip who Dorien constantly attempts to outdo.

Marcus eventually tires of Dorien's selfishness and infidelity and leaves her to begin a new life with his secret mistress and love child. Dorien later starts a loving relationship with Richard Summers, which is initially strained due to Richard's teenage children taking an instant dislike to Dorien, which she gladly reciprocates.

There is some uncertainty about Dorien's maiden name. She says that her father's name was Arthur Friedman, but a wedding invitation to Sharon and Tracey reveals her mother's name to be Estelle Kapper. Later, Dorien refers to her maiden name as Kapper and an old flame remembers her as Dorien Kapper, also. Dorien's mother appears on screen once but is often mentioned by her daughter as an icy, domineering woman, and the two clearly have a stormy relationship. Dorien also has a brother named Jeffrey, who she believes to be their mother's favourite, as he lives a modest life in a semi-detached home, and, unlike Dorien, has given their mother grandchildren.

In the series seven episode, "Cheers", Darryl and Chris are released from prison and are determined to start afresh. Chris feels remorse for his crimes and for not treating Sharon better during their marriage. He impresses Sharon by getting an honest job as a pizza delivery man. Darryl, however, feels that the only way to treat Tracey is to return to unscrupulous tactics. He attempts to launder counterfeit money into Sharon and Tracey's swimming pool business but is caught and once again imprisoned – along with an innocent Chris, much to Sharon's dismay. Darryl and Tracey's marriage is severely strained after this, and Tracey contemplates leaving Darryl, but decides against it; however, this is not before she is unfaithful with several men. In series nine Tracey discovers she is pregnant and panics the child may not be Darryl's; however, she is reassured when she discovers the other possible father has had a vasectomy. When Tracey gives birth to her second child Travis, Sharon vows to stand by her sister and raise the child together.

Sharon and Tracey's maternal aunt, "Auntie Sylvie" (Vivian Pickles), is frequently mentioned and appears twice. After Tracey and Sharon's parents died, Sylvie raised them.[5][6]

In the tenth series it is revealed that Tracey and Darryl have divorced and that Darryl moved to Wales on his release from prison. Tracey has remarried and is back living in her former marital home, "Dalentrace", in Chigwell, kicking Sharon out due to her dislike of Tracey's new husband, Ralph. At the start of the series, Sharon is back living in her council flat and the two have not spoken for over six months when they "bump into each other" at a book signing. They are shocked to discover that the author of "Sixty Shades of Green" (a Fifty Shades of Grey clone) is their old friend Dorien, whom they haven't seen in years. When Tracey offers Sharon a lift home, she confesses that she has thrown Ralph out after catching him stealing from her. Lonely, she persuades Sharon to return home to Chigwell. Travis feigns annoyance that Sharon is back, but it is then revealed to the audience that he set up their "chance" meeting at the book signing.

As the three plan how their new set-up will work, Dorien arrives unexpectedly, having discovered she is being sued for allegedly plagiarising Fifty Shades of Grey. With all her assets frozen, she has no choice but to beg Tracey for a place to stay. Just as everyone is speculating how they will all fit into the house, Garth makes a surprise return from Australia with new girlfriend Marcie and her 10-year-old daughter Poppy, all in need of somewhere to stay. By the end of the series Garth, Marcie and Poppy have moved out, with the couple opening a pop-up restaurant, and the case against Dorien has collapsed due to a tabloid exposé about an MP she once dated - which proves the stories in her book were all true. However, after initially planning to return to her former home in Hollywood, Dorien realises Sharon and Tracey are her true friends, and opts to continue living with them instead.

Filming locations[edit]

Most of the interior scenes of the original series were shot at Teddington Studios.

For the 2014 revived series, interior scenes were recorded in Studio 2 at The London Studios in Autumn 2013. Linda Robson revealed on Twitter that the show had moved to Pinewood Studios for the second revived series, filming in Autumn 2014 to be aired January 2015.

The prison exteriors were filmed at HM Prison Maidstone.[7]

Return[edit]

On 3 March 2009, the Daily Mirror reported that the classic sitcom was set for a return reporting that Lesley Joseph, Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson have all been asked by the team behind the sitcom to make another series. Quirke was reported as saying that her acting school "Quirky Kidz" was beginning to really take off, so she'd be hesitant to become involved in another creative project.[8] After this speculation of a return in early 2009 nothing more was said. However, in July 2012 Lesley Joseph hinted that Birds of a Feather could return for another series following a successful stage tour.

In March 2013, Pauline Quirke appeared on ITV's This Morning and confirmed that a script for a new series is "on the desk at the BBC" and they are just waiting for a decision to be made as to whether or not the BBC would commission a new series. Fifteen years after the original series ended, the original cast will return, this time on ITV.[9]

Linda Robson confirmed on her Twitter account that filming began on 16 September 2013, with 8 new episodes broadcasting from 2 January 2014. It is confirmed all characters are coming back, including Tracey's new child which left off on the last ever episode. Matt Willis will be taking over from Matthew Savage as the part of Garth making him the third actor to play the character. Two new characters are to be introduced in the tenth series including Garth's new girlfriend Marcie. The first episode was met with mainly positive reviews with fans saying the show staying true to itself. Quirke stated that the cast only returned with the intention of doing the one series although stated she would not rule out doing further episodes if the scripts were right and the fans and viewers wanted more of the series. The opening episode attracted nearly 8 million viewers, giving ITV its highest rated comedy since Barbara in 2000.[3] On 16 January Robson, Quirke and Joseph appeared on Loose Women to take over for one special episode to celebrate the series return and the ratings success. Robson is a regular panellist on Loose Women since 2012.

In March 2014, ITV announced a second series (the eleventh overall) of eight episodes is to be produced.[citation needed] Filming will take place later in the year and will be aired from early 2015. In August 2014, Robson confirmed via her Twitter feed that filming would start on 7 September 2014 and continue through until November, and the series would be broadcast in January 2015.[citation needed]

Cast[edit]

Episode count is as of the 2014 episode "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (most recent)

Current[edit]

Actor Character Duration Other actor(s) Episodes
Pauline Quirke Sharon Theodopolopodos 1989–98, 2014–present 110
Linda Robson Tracey Stubbs (née Rackham) 1989–98, 2014–present 110
Lesley Joseph Dorien Green 1989–98, 2014–present 110
Matt Willis Garth Stubbs 1989–98, 2014–present Simon Nash
Matthew Savage
39
Charlie Quirke Travis Stubbs 2014–present 8
Camilla Marie Beeput Marcie 2014–present 6

Former[edit]

Actor Character Duration Other actor(s) Episodes
David Cardy Chris Theodopolopodos 1989–1998, 2014 Peter Polycarpou 52
Alun Lewis Darryl Stubbs 1989–1997 Doug McFerran 56
Nickolas Grace Marcus Green 1989, 1990, 1993, 1997 Stephen Greif 4
Vivian Pickles Aunt Sylvia 1990–1992 2

Guest appearances[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Birds of a Feather first aired in 1989 and has so far ran for 10 series consisting of 110 episodes. 103 episodes are thirty minutes in length, while one is forty minutes, four are 50 minutes, one is 60 minutes and one is 75 minutes.

Most episodes were written by Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran, Gary Lawson & John Phelps, Geoff Rowley, Sue Teddem, Peter Tilbury, Geoff Deane, Tony Millan & Mike Walling, Damon Rochefort and Sam Lawrence. Keith Lindsay & Martin Tomms, Steve Coombes & Dave Robinson, George Costigan & Julia North, John Ross, Frankie Bailey, Miles Tredinnick, Jenny Lecoat, Alun Lewis, Richard Preddy & Gary Howe and Ian Davidson & Peter Vincent & Tony Jordan all wrote one episode each.

Opening titles[edit]

The theme tune was Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do?". Initially the version recorded by actor William Atherton for the 1974 film The Great Gatsby was used; from the third series onwards is sung by Quirke and Robson.

During the opening theme for series 1, Quirke and Robson were seen both dressed in a white shirt and a black skirt and they walked towards to screen through several spotlights. Once they reached the screen it faded to Quirke and Robson sat back to back as they rotated. The ending theme was an extended version sung by Quirke and Robson together. And it showed Quirke and Robson walking to the screen and back, passing through the spot lights, while the credits rolled on the left of the screen.

Opening credits from series two to nine (1990–98)

Series 2 featured the same music as series 1 but introduced the new opening which featured pictures of characters Sharon and Tracey as they grow up.

  1. Sharon and Tracey as babies, could be toddlers.
  2. As young children (this stage of their lives is featured in the closing theme)
  3. As children, grown up
  4. As teenagers, from this picture onwards, it is actually Quirke and Robson that featured in the pictures.
  5. As young adults
  6. As adults, which could on Tracey's wedding day. From this picture onwards, the pictures are in colour.
  7. As adults, which could be on Sharon's wedding day.
  8. As adults, now as they appear in the series.

For the picture transition, the pictures faded. The last picture remained until the entire screen faded into the episode.

For the closing theme, A video was of the child actors that are supposed to be a young Sharon and Tracey, in the second picture of the opening theme, out in a park eating ice creams with their teddies, chasing each other, Tracey trying to get Sharon to play, Sharon jumping down some steps, Tracey looking through a railing to a pond and it ends with Sharon and Tracey waving bye and running away from the screen together.

  • Series 3–9

Series 3 introduced a revised version of the song which was performed by Quirke and Robson. Robson sang the first verse and Quirke sang the last. It used the same video as the series 2 opening and closing theme.

The episode closing theme, was an extended version of the song which was still sung by Quirke and Robson but they did not sing together, they had separate verses to sing, but they sang the last line together, "That won't come true, what'll I do".

A new arrangement of the theme by Dave Arch accompanies a new title sequence using a number of the images used in the previous series titles as well as a current image of the sisters and Dorien - now styled to be pictures in frames, slides and images through a camera's view screen. The video sequence from the original closing credits now appears in the opening sequence alongside a clip from an old episode made to look like a home video recording. More of the old end credits video appears as the programme moves in and out of the commercial break. It was confirmed prior to broadcast in an online interview with Whatsontv that the opening titles have been slightly updated with new images and with Joseph now singing in the opening titles alongside Quirke and Robson.

Other countries[edit]

Birds of a Feather was sold to over 30 countries worldwide, and the format was sold to countries including Australia (ABC TV), New Zealand, Spain and South Africa. The show is regularly re-run on Australian & New Zealand pay TV.

US TV adaptation[edit]

An American adaptation, called Stand By Your Man was made by Fox. Rosie O'Donnell played hard-up Lorraine Popowski, while Melissa Gilbert-Brinkman played her rich sister Rochelle Dunphy. Sam McMurray played Rochelle's husband Roger, and Rick Hall played Lorraine's husband Artie. The Dorien character was called Adrienne Stone played by Miriam Flynn. The series was broadcast for only eight episodes from 5 April to 9 August 1992.

Stage adaptation[edit]

On 8 July 2010, Linda Robson confirmed on This Morning that a script has been written for a stage show, which all three actresses are keen to be involved with, but this would depend on the availability of Pauline Quirke, who had just been contracted to Emmerdale for 6 months. Quirke announced on 16 May 2011 that she would be leaving Emmerdale at Christmas 2011, and that a touring version of Birds of a Feather would start in spring 2012.[10]

Birds of a Feather has been adapted for stage by The Comedy Theatre Company, producers of previous dinnerladies and Keeping Up Appearances UK stage tours. The 2012 Birds of a Feather UK tour includes the original three leading actresses. Quirke and Robson's real-life sons, Charlie Quirke and Louis Dunford, share the role of Travis Stubbs, the son born to Tracey in the final episode of the TV series.[11]

Home video releases[edit]

VHS[edit]

While the series was airing on BBC1 in the 1990s there were some VHS releases of episodes from the series.

DVD[edit]

The first series of Birds of a Feather was released by Prism Leisure Corporation on 6 January 2003. Series One was released in Region 4 (Australia) in March 2007. Series One was re-released with different packaging on 1 June 2009 and at the time FremantleMedia said that there were no plans to release the remaining series.

Series 1 was re-released for a third time with new packaging along with Series 2 on 30 August 2010 through Network.

Series 3 & 4 were released on 31 January 2011 and were followed by series 5 & 6 on 21 February, series 7 & 8 on 7 March and series 9 on 11 April 2011. The Complete Series 1–9 box set was released on 10 October 2011.

Following the release of the complete collection, an Australian release was also included. This was released in three individual box sets, each containing three series.

The Complete Series 1–9 box set is rated  PG  for Parental Guidance in Australia and New Zealand for coarse language and sexual references.

The complete series 10 was released on 10 March 2014 containing All 8 episodes of that series.

DVD title No. of discs Year(s) No. of episodes DVD release
Region 2 Region 4 Special episodes
Complete Series 1 1 1989 6 + special 30 August 2010 N/A 1989 Christmas special
Complete Series 2 3 1990 15 + special N/A 1990 Christmas special
Complete Series 3 2 1991 12 + special 31 January 2011 N/A 1991 Christmas special
Complete Series 4 2 1992 13 + special N/A 1992 Christmas special
Complete Series 5 3 1993 13 + special 21 February 2011 N/A 1993 Christmas special
Complete Series 6 3 1994 14 + special N/A 1994 Christmas special
Complete Series 7 2 1997 10 + special 7 March 2011 N/A "The Chigwell Years"
Complete Series 8 1 1998 6 + special N/A 1997 Christmas special
Complete Series 9 1 1998 6 11 April 2011 N/A N/A
Series 1–3 6 1989–91 33 + 3 specials N/A 30 August 2011[12] Christmas specials
Series 4–6 6 1992–94 40 + 3 specials N/A 3 November 2013[13] Christmas specials
Series 7–9 4 1997–98 22 + 2 specials N/A 1 March 2012[14] Christmas specials
& "The Chigwell Years"
Complete Collection (Series 1–9) 19 (Region 2)
16 (Region 4)
1989–98 102 10 October 2011 2 August 2012[15] Christmas specials
& "The Chigwell Years"
Complete Series 10/
(The Complete ITV Series 1)
1 2014 8 10 March 2014 TBA N/A

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year(s) Award Show Category Result Recipient(s)
1990 British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Newcomer Won Pauline Quirke
Best TV Comedy Actress Nominated
1993 BAFTA Awards Best Comedy (Programme or Series) Nominated Terry Kinane
Laurence Marks
Maurice Gran
Candida Julian-Jones
1997 National Television Awards Most Popular Comedy Performer Nominated Pauline Quirke
1998 Most Popular Actress Nominated
1999 Most Popular Comedy Performer Nominated
Most Popular Comedy Programme Nominated Birds of a Feather
TV Quick Awards Best Sitcom Won Birds of a Feather

References[edit]

General
  • Mark Lewisohn, "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy", BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003
Specific
  1. ^ "Birds of Feather: Episode One". ITV Press Centre. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Downton Abbey, Birds of a Feather: ITV's Christmas, New Year listings". Digital Spy. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/birds-feather-return-watched-nearly-2983695
  4. ^ http://www.itv.com/presscentre/press-releases/birds-feather-recommissioned-second-series#.UxkYlrmYaM8
  5. ^ "Someone Else's Baby". Birds of a Feather. 1990-12-13. BBC. BBC1.
  6. ^ "Holy Ground". Birds of a Feather. 1998-12-24. BBC. BBC1.
  7. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Birds of a Feather Film Focus". 
  8. ^ "Classic BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather set for comeback". Daily Mirror. 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  9. ^ Eames, Tom (2013-06-18). "'Birds of a Feather' to return after 15 years for new series on ITV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  10. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (2011-05-16). "Pauline Quirke to leave 'Emmerdale'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  11. ^ Birds of a Feather - The National Stage Tour, Birdsontour.com. Retrieved 8 February 2012
  12. ^ "Birds Of A Feather - Series 1 - 3". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Birds Of A Feather - Series 4 - 6". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Birds Of A Feather - Series 7 - 9". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Birds Of A Feather - Series 1 - 9". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 

External links[edit]