The Likely Lads

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The Likely Lads
Format Sitcom
Starring James Bolam
Rodney Bewes
Sheila Fearn
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 20 produced, 12 'lost'
Production
Producer(s) Dick Clement
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC2
Picture format Black-and-white
Original run 16 December 1964 (1964-12-16) – 23 July 1966 (1966-07-23)
Chronology
Followed by Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?
External links
Website

The Likely Lads is a British sitcom created and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, and produced by Dick Clement. Twenty episodes were broadcast by the BBC, in three series, between 16 December 1964 and 23 July 1966. However, only eight of these shows have survived.

This show was followed by a popular sequel series, in colour, entitled Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, broadcast between 9 January 1973 and 24 December 1974. This was followed in 1976 by a spin-off feature film The Likely Lads.

Some episodes of both the original black and white series and the colour sequel were adapted for radio, with the original television cast.

Premise[edit]

The original show followed the friendship of two working class young men, Terry Collier (James Bolam) and Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes), in Newcastle upon Tyne in the mid 1960s. Both Bob and Terry are assumed to be in their early 20s (when their ages are revealed in the later film, this puts both characters at around 20 when the series started).

After growing up at school and in the Scouts together, Bob and Terry are working in the same factory, Ellison's Electrical, alongside the older, wiser duo of Cloughie and Jack. The show's gritty yet verbose humour derived largely from the tensions between Terry's cynical, everyman, working class personality and Bob's ambition to better himself and move to the middle class.

Bob and Terry were two average working class lads growing up in the industrial North East, whose hobbies were beer, football and girls. They were "canny", which is to say street-wise, yet they stumbled into one scrape after another as they struggled to enjoy the Swinging Sixties on their meagre incomes.

At the end of the third and final series in 1966, a depressed and bored Bob attempted to join the Army but was rejected due to his flat feet. Terry who decided at the last minute to enlist to keep Bob company, was accepted A1 and shipped away for three years.

It was gradually revealed that Terry and Bob's full names were Terence Daniel Collier and Robert Andrew Scarborough Ferris ("Scarborough" not revealed until the 1970s colour series). According to the later feature film, made in 1976, both "Lads" were conceived during the same wartime air raid and were thus born in the same year, 1944.

Although in the colour sequel much was made of Thelma, who was said to have been Bob's childhood sweetheart, she appeared only once in the original show, in which Bob had no steady girlfriend and was forever "chasing skirt", though she was mentioned in some episodes in series three, including "Rocker" and "Goodbye to All That".

The word "likely" in the show's title is somewhat ambiguous.In some dialects in Northern England it means "likeable", but it may be derived from the phrase the man most likely to, a boxing expression in common use on Tyneside. hence, in Geordie slang, "a likely lad". Another possible meaning is the ambiguous Northern usage of "likely" to mean a small-time troublemaker.

Cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

  • George Layton in "The Suitor" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
  • Garfield Morgan in "Chance of a Lifetime"
  • Wendy Richard in "The Last of the Big Spenders"
  • Susan Jameson (the real-life wife of James Bolam) in "Double Date".
  • Michael Sheard in "Other Side of the Fence" and "The Last of the Big Spenders".
  • Nerys Hughes in "Outward Bound"
  • Geoffrey Hughes in "The Razor's Edge" and "Love and Marriage"
  • Helen Fraser in "Talk Of The Town" and "Love and Marriage"
  • Irene Richmond (Mrs Ferris: Bob's mother) in "Talk Of The Town", "The Razor's Edge" and "Goodbye To All That"
  • Tony Caunter in "Goodbye To All That"

Episodes[edit]

Only eight episodes survive on film in the BBC's archives, as a result of its wiping policy of the 1960s. However, the BBC Archive Treasure Hunt, a public campaign, continues to search for missing episodes.

Series 1 (1964 - 65)[edit]

Title Airdate Description Notes
Entente Cordiale 16 December 1964 The lads return home from their first foreign holiday, pursued by a girl they met in Spain.
Double Date 23 December 1964 A lovelorn Bob is cheered up by a double date. Guest stars: Susan Jameson and Coral Atkins.
Older Women Are More Experienced 30 December 1964 Terry finds an older girlfriend and Bob finds a younger one.
Other Side of the Fence 6 January 1965 Bob is offered a better job, in management. Guest stars: Michael Sheard
Anneke Wills
Chance of a Lifetime 13 January 1965 The lads are offered the chance to emigrate to Australia. Guest star: Garfield Morgan
The Suitor 20 January 1965 Terry enlists Bob's help to try to get rid of his sister's Italian boyfriend. Guest star: George Layton

Series 2 (1965)[edit]

Title Airdate Description Notes
Baby, It's Cold Outside 16 June 1965 The lads have a double date arranged but nowhere they can take the girls afterwards. lost
A Star is Born 23 June 1965 The lads compete in a pub talent night lost
Talk of the Town 30 June 1965 Bob's engagement to Thelma becomes the talk of the town, but it's news to Bob. lost
Guest stars:

Helen Fraser
Irene Richmond

The Last of the Big Spenders 7 July 1965 The lads take two London girls out on the town. Guest stars:

Wendy Richard
Wanda Ventham
Michael Sheard

Faraway Places 14 July 1965 The lads plan a foreign holiday, but have trouble raising the money for it. lost
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 21 July 1965 The lads attend a friend's wedding and realise that they are now the only unmarried men they know. lost
Guest star: George Layton

Series 3 (1966)[edit]

Title Airdate Description Notes
Outward Bound 4 June 1966 The lads go camping, planning to end up at a campsite notorious for hippy love-ins. lost
Guest star: Nerys Hughes
Friends and Neighbours 11 June 1966 Bob is caught in the middle when Terry's granddad starts a feud with Bob's next-door neighbours, whose daughter is Bob's new girlfriend. lost
sound exists
picture missing
The Rocker 18 June 1966 Bob buys a moped and Terry ends up in hospital.
Brief Encounter 25 June 1966 Unbeknown to each other Bob and Terry are both dating the same girl. lost
sound only exists
there is no picture
The Razor's Edge 2 July 1966 Bob grows a beard, which causes him trouble at work. When Terry tries to defend him things go from bad to worse. lost
sound only exists
there is no picture
Guest stars:

Geoffrey Hughes
Irene Richmond

Anchors Aweigh 9 July 1966 The lads take a boating holiday together on the Norfolk Broads, despite Terry's deep mistrust of boats. lost
sound only exists
there is no picture
Love and Marriage 16 July 1966 The lads are invited on a stag night. lost
Guest stars:

Helen Fraser
Geoffrey Hughes

Goodbye to All That 23 July 1966 Bob joins the Army and Terry, finding life lonely on his own, decides to join up too. Guest stars:

Irene Richmond
Tony Caunter

Surviving episodes[edit]

Series Episode No. Surviving Episodes Broadcast Notes
1 1 Entente Cordiale 16/12/64
2 Double Date 23/12/64
3 Older Women Are More Experienced 30/12/64
4 The Other Side of the Fence 06/01/65
6 The Suitor 20/01/65
2 4 The Last of the Big Spenders 07/07/65 Previously lost, found in 2001
3 3 The Rocker 18/06/66
8 Goodbye to All That 23/07/66

Lost episodes[edit]

Series Episode No. Lost Episodes Broadcast Notes
2 1 Baby, It’s Cold Outside 16/06/65
2 A Star is Born 23/06/65
3 The Talk of the Town 30/06/65
5 Faraway Places 14/07/65
6 Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 21/07/65
3 1 Outward Bound 04/06/66 Audio exists
2 Friends and Neighbours 11/06/66
4 Brief Encounter 25/06/66 Audio exists
5 The Razor’s Edge 02/07/66 Audio exists
6 Anchors Aweigh 09/07/66 Audio exists
7 Love and Marriage 16/07/66

Christmas Night with the Stars[edit]

Additionally, an eight-minute episode of The Likely Lads was broadcast on 25 December 1964, as part of a 90 minute Christmas Day special on BBC 1 called Christmas Night with the Stars 7.15pm to 8.45pm, in which Bob and Terry have an argument over Bob's encyclopaedic knowledge of 'Rupert The Bear' Annuals ("It was Edward Trunk!"). This recording still exists in the BBC's film & videotape archive. An edited version, which included 'The Likely Lads' sketch, was screened on BBC2 over Christmas 1991.

Radio adaptations[edit]

Sixteen of the television scripts were adapted for radio by James Bolam, and broadcast in two series during 1967 and 1968.

Produced by John Browell, the radio adaptations were recorded at the Paris Studios in Lower Regent Street, London using the original television cast (although some minor parts had to be recast for some episodes, where the original actor was unavailable).

Series 1[edit]

Title Airdate Cast Notes
1. Where Have All The Flowers Gone? 6 August 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Mrs Collier - Olive Milbourne
Vicar, Uncle Walter - John Gazabon
Auntie Peggy - Betty Hardy
Cyril - Le Roy Lingwood
Elaine - Carol Marsh
Beryl - Rosalind Shanks

Series 1 was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme
2. The Suitor 13 August 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Mrs Collier - Olive Milbourne
Mario - George Layton

3. The Rocker 20 August 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Motor Salesman - Reginald Jessup
Nurse - Cheryl Molineaux
Carol - Rosalind Shanks

4. Older Women Are More Experienced 27 August 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Mrs Winsor - Rhoda Lewis
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Bartlett Mullins
Sheila, Elsie - Madeleine Mills

5. Baby, It's Cold Outside 3 September 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Jack - Donald McKillop
Margaret - Dorothy White
Jane, Baby - Shirley Jaffe
Rose - Kate Story
June - Janet Kelly

6. Outward Bound 10 September 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
The Scoutmaster - Peter Hawkins
The Postmistress - Kathleen Helme
Jack - Donald McKillop
Valerie - Janet Kelly
Susan - Kate Story
Cafe Proprietor, Lorry Driver - David Brierley

7. The Talk Of The Town 17 September 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - John Henderson
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Mrs Ferris - Kathleen Helme
Elsie - Madeleine Mills
Thelma - Susan Jameson
Big Duggie - Michael Kilgarrif
Blakey - Douglas Hankin

The part of Cloughy was recast this week, as Bartlett Mullins was not available.

The part of Thelma was also recast, with Susan Jameson playing the role on this occasion. She had previously appeared in the television series as a different character, in the episode "Double Date".

8. Anchors Aweigh 24 September 1967

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Mum - Julie May
Sally - Sarah Kestelman
Denise - Madeleine Mills
Sam - Wilfred Carter

Series 2[edit]

Title Airdate Cast Notes
1. Friends and Neighbours 19 May 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Grandad - Bert Palmer
Mrs Perrin - Noel Dyson
Mr Perrin - Glenn Melvyn
Lorna Perrin - Angela Lovelln

Series 2 was broadcast on BBC Radio 2
2. The Other Side of the Fence 26 May 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Bartlett Mullins
Blakey, Roger - Richard Moore
Nesbit - Michael Sheard
Holgate - Eric Dodson
Judith - Anneke Wills
Sally Anne - Didi Sullivan

3. Entente Cordiale 2 June 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Mrs Collier - Olive Milbourne
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Erik Chitty
Louise, Waitress - Anna Gilchrist
Colette - Bettine Le Beau

The part of Cloughy was recast this week, as Bartlett Mullins was not available
4. Double Date 9 June 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Deirdre - Dilys Watling
Pat - Susan Jameson

5. Love and Marriage 16 June 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Bartlett Mullins
Duggie - Derek Newark
Helen - Helen Fraser
Archie - Roger Avon
Podge - Geoffrey Hughes
Mrs Foster - Doris Rogers

6. Their Hearts Were Touched by Ursula 23 June 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Ursula - Isobel Black
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Bartlett Mullins
All other female parts - Jennifer Croxton
All other male parts - Peter Hawkins

An adaptation of the television episode Brief Encounter
7. Chance of a Lifetime 30 June 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Sgt Jeffcock - Garfield Morgan
Ralph - Barry Linehan
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Bartlett Mullins
Cecile - Veronica Lang
Blakey - George Layton

8. Goodbye to all That 7 July 1968

Bob - Rodney Bewes
Terry - James Bolam
Audrey - Sheila Fearn
Jack - Donald McKillop
Cloughy - Bartlett Mullins
Mrs Collier - Olive Milbourne
Mr Collier - Alex McDonald
George - Barry Stanton
Army Sergeant - Tony Caunter
Mrs Ferris - Irene Richmond
Youth - Andrew Robertson
Recruit - Hugh Walters

DVD releases[edit]

In a recent DVD release, only seven of the eight extant episodes were included, in spite of the cover stating that it contained all the surviving episodes. The eighth episode (Other Side of the Fence) was included on the Likely Lads and Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? combined box set, as an 'extra' rather than in chronological order.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wickham, Phil (8 August 2008). The Likely Lads. BFI TV Classics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan/BFI Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84457-213-7. 
  • Webber, Richard; Clement, Dick; La Frenais, Ian (1999). Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?. London: Orion. ISBN 0-7528-1815-5.