The Good Life was written as a comedy vehicle for Richard Briers by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey. The pair took inspiration from Larbey’s recent 40th birthday and how such a landmark birthday often prompted a period of change.
Originally, Peter Bowles was considered for the part of Jerry, but he was unavailable, with Hannah Gordon for the part of Barbara. Gordon was rejected as she’d recently played a similar character in My Wife Next Door, another BBC sitcom. A night at the theatre for Larbey and Esmonde led to them finding their Barbara and Margo – they saw Felicity Kendal and Penelope Keith in a production of The Norman Conquests.
Although set in Surbiton in South London, the production looked North for the ideal homes for the Goods and the Leadbetters. Kewferry Road, Northwood was used with no expense spared putting the Good’s garden back to normal after the location filming for each series was completed. Obviously, the real owners weren’t partial to pigs, chickens and self-sufficiency.
By Royal Command
The Good Life ran for four series and two specials from 4 April 1975 to 10 June 1978. The final episode, "When I'm Sixty-Five", was a Royal Command Performance in front of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, with the cast and crew were presented to The Queen and Prince Philip after the recording.
Good Life after
The success of the series saw star-vehicles being developed for the four cast-members. Richard Briers went on to star in Ever Decreasing Circles, Paul Eddington in Yes, Minister, Felicity Kindall in The Mistress, and Penelope Keith in To the Manor Born, opposite one-time Jerry possibility Peter Bowles.