Bob and Terry's Midlife Crisis

I've never been at home in the country, I've always had a deep mistrust of nature - Terry

Rodney Bewes in The Likely Lads (1976)

Childhood friends Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes) and Terry Collier (James Bolam) are forced to confront that things are changing when the homes they grew up in are demolished to make way for soulless high rises and the pub they still frequent is being pulled down. Whilst Terry takes it in his stride, moving to one of those soulless high rises Bob finds himself going through a bit of a mid-life identity crisis especially when Bob discovers Terry has a young Finnish girlfriend called Christina (Mary Tamm). With Terry a changed man, Bob's wife, Thelma (Brigit Forsyth) suggests they all go on a caravan holiday together.

It is amusing to think that I have never watched a single episode of "The Likely Lads" or its follow up "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?" yet because of the way British culture was during the 70s and 80s when I was a child I am still incredibly familiar with the characters. But basically being aware of "The Likely Lads" puts me in an interesting position when it comes to the 1976 spin-off movie "The Likely Lads" as I had nothing to compare it to and in truth wasn't even sure whether it would work with just my basic knowledge.

James Bolam in The Likely Lads (1976)

So the good news is that right from the word go with an opening scene set during WWII with friends Bob and Terry being conceived it makes you smile. That is followed by one joke after another be it a football stuck high up on a roof with Bob having to climb up to get it to Terry and Bob skiving off work to attend a funeral, well the demolishing of their favourite pub. Whilst I am sure there are some jokes which work better for those who use to watch the TV series the majority of the humour works for everyone with the added nostalgic comedy of this being a product of 70s Britain with lots of little things making you smile, from cars to jokes about caravanning.

But in truth, and I would imagine unsurprisingly for the fans of the TV series, the reason why "The Likely Lads" works is as much to do with the writing as it is the chemistry which Bewes and Bolam had. The chalk n cheese characters combined with the timing of the responses makes it a lot of fun with both Mary Tamm and Brigit Forsyth delivering their fare share of laughs especially Brigit Forsyth who has a cracker of a line when Terry relieves himself against the side of the caravan in the midst of a game of Bridge.

What this all boils down to is that "The Likely Lads" put a huge smile on my face and even though I have never watched any of the old TV series it still made me laugh. But what "The Likely Lads" sadly does is to remind you how weak British comedies now are compared to how good they once were.

Tags: British TV Shows & Their Movies

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