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Opinion

Whatever happened to the Likely Lads?

2 years ago
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Growing up in the 1970s, The Likely Lids was just the best.

Audiences of over 20m used to regularly be watching, with those of us on Tyneside feeling that it was just a little bit extra special to us.

Of course what most of us think of as The Likely Lads is not the original one from the 1960 which was made in black and white.

Those are still very watchable if you get to see the episodes that survived, but it was when the extremely talented Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais revived the characters, that we really remember it line by line, episode by episode.

Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads is quite simply the greatest comedy sitcom ever.

You watched it in the 70s entranced, even the introduction showing the views of Tyneside and the demolition/transformation were required viewing. Terry returning from the army and once again meeting up with Bob, so much having changed in his absence.

As a kid you couldn’t help but love Terry Collier, he was the rogue who got most of the laughs.

His straight man was Bob Ferris and the butt of so many jokes and put downs, we all wanted to be Terry.

It wasn’t that you didn’t like Bob, it was more the fact that Terry was the jack the lad getting up to all kinds, whilst Bob Ferris was the one who was settling down into married life and the trappings of the middles classes that he was upwardly moving into.

Of course, the heart of the comedy was the fact that deep down Bob Ferris didn’t want to be forgetting about his old life, he was really a willing partner as he repeatedly got dragged into hilarious situations and trouble by Terry Collier.

When you got a little bit older you still obviously enjoyed Terry Collier’s role in the brilliant sitcom but you eventually realised that it was the superb Bob Ferris who was the star of the show.

He was the one trying to keep his foot in both camps, still a bit of the jack the lad, as well as trying to live up the expectations of his wife Thelma.

When we talk about the brilliant Bob Ferris character, we are in reality talking about the very brilliant Rodney Bewes.

Yes you needed the excellent script, but for it to come alive it only happened because of those very special performances from Rodney Bewes and James Bolam, as well as a quality supporting cast headed by Brigit Forsyth as Thelma.

Another coming of age moment when it came to The Likely Lads was when you found out that actually neither Bob or Terry were from Newcastle. Rodney Bewes born in Yorkshire and James Bolam in Sunderland!

Watching it as a kid (and the same now…), all the references to Newcastle United made it feel even more that it was OUR programme, Bob and Terry fighting the NUFC corner.

The true quality of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads is proved by the fact that when you see it now, it is still superb, hasn’t aged one bit in terms of the enjoyment you get from it.

Sadly, when I watch it now, it will be tinged with that sadness of knowing Rodney Bewes has sadly passed away. Tuesday bringing news that the comedy great had died at the age of 79.

Thanks for all the laughs kidda, you’ll be a massive loss to us all.

Enjoy a few reminders here:

[youtube=https://youtu.be/Tm7npJVAm4A&w=600]

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