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Good Neighbors

Updated on July 2, 2013

Self-Sufficiency in Surbiton

Good Neighbors (called The Good Life in the UK) was a 70s sit-com starring Felicity Kendal as Barbara Good, Richard Briers as Tom Good, Penelope Keith as Margo Leadbetter and Paul Eddington as Jerry Leadbetter.

On his 40th birthday, Tom ponders what is missing from his life. As a result, he and Barbara decide to leave the rat race and take up self-sufficiency - in their back garden in an upmarket part of Surbiton.

Margo and Jerry, their next door neighbours and very good friends, are alternately horrified and supportive.

Richard Briers: 14th January 1934 - 17th January 2013 - RIP

Richard Briers
Richard Briers

Richard Briers, star of the Good Life and many other wonderful things, has passed away peacefully at home after a long illness. Read obituaries from the Guardian and BBC News.

Living the Good Life

The Good Life was created by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey and has become part of British culture - much loved, regularly repeated on television and referred to often.

It's currently enjoying a renaissance, as the Credit Crunch and environmental issues encourage more people to go back to the land and try their hand at a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle.

Even if you don't fancy keeping pigs, this is high quality family entertainment - and you can get a good laugh out of the 70s fashions!

Series 1 episode guide

All the episodes from the first season of The Good Life

Episode 1: 'Plough your own furrow'

On his 40th birthday, Tom Good decides he's had enough of the daily grind and he and his wife Barbara embark on a new life of self-sufficiency in the suburbs.

Episode 2: 'Say little hen...'

The chickens arrive, and Barbara is begging for scraps to feed them. The Good's neighbours, Margo and Jerry Ledbetter, get the wrong end of the stick and hatch a plan to get Tom and Barbara back to a normal life.

Episode 3: 'The weaker sex?'

Tom's obsession with building the perfect bird scarer causes problems when he leaves Barbara to clean the rust of their new range alone.

Episode 4: 'Pig's lib'

Margo draws the line when the Good's piglets escape into her garden.

Episode 5: 'The thing in the cellar'

Tom builds an effluent digester in the cellar, to turn animal waste into methane to power the generator. And he doesn't make friends with the local anglers when Jerry takes him fishing.

Episode 6: 'The pagan rite'

Tom takes a freelance job behind Barbara's back.

Episode 7: 'Backs to the wall'

Tom and Barbara need Margo and Jerry's help to bring in the harvest when bad luck strikes.

Series 2 episode guide

All the episodes from the second season of The Good Life

Episode 1: 'Just My Bill'

Tom runs into trouble selling his surplus, and the Goods struggle to pay their bills.

Episode 2: 'The Guru of Surbiton'

A pair of students come to help dig the allotment, and decide to start a commune in the house next door.

Episode 3: 'Mr. Fix-It'

Tom and Barbara's alternative lifestyle makes the news when they speak to a reporter.

Episode 4: 'The Day Peace Broke Out'

There's trouble in Surbiton as some leeks go missing from the front garden.

Episode 5: 'Mutiny'

Margot's starring role in The Sound of Music takes precendence over Jerry's job.

Episode 6: 'Home Sweet Home'

The Goods consider moving to a smallholding in the country.

Episode 7: 'Going to Pot'

The Goods broaden their horizons, at evening classes.

Milking the goat - Giles & Sue live the Good Life

In 2010 Sue Perkins and Giles Coren had a go at living The Good Life, and there are plenty of clips from the tv show available on YouTube.

Series 3 episode guide

All the episodes from the third season of The Good Life

Episode 1: 'Early Birds'

The Good's attempts to rise and retire with the sun cause problems with Margo and Jerry.

Episode 2: 'The Happy Event'

Pinky the pig goes into labour.

Episode 3: 'A Tug of the Forelock'

Tom and Barbara go into domestic service to pay for a new mode of transport.

Episode 4: 'I Talk to the Trees'

A chance meeting at the allotment inspires an experiment.

Episode 5: 'The Windbreak War'

Margo's new windbreak causes problems.

Episode 6: 'Whose Fleas are These?'

An infestation comes between friends.

Episode 7: 'The Last Posh Frock'

Barbara is asked to sacrifice too much at the altar of self-sufficiency.

Series 4 episode guide

The final season of The Good Life, with Christmas special and Royal Command Performance

Episode 1: 'Away From It All'

Tom and Barbara try and take a city break, leaving Margo and Jerry in charge at home.

Episode 2: 'The Green Door'

Tom and Barbara are horrified to learn that Margo is keeping secrets from Jerry.

Episode 3: 'Our Speaker Today...'

Barbara becomes a successful public speaker.

Episode 4: 'The Weaver's Tale'

Both households are rocked by arguments about money.

Episode 5: 'Suit Yourself'

Tom's new homemade suit gets an outing when he and Barbara help Jerry impress Sir.

Episode 6: 'Sweet Charity'

An attempt to profit from some unwanted heating oil turns sour for the Goods.

Episode 7: 'Anniversary'

The Goods have been self-sufficient for two years, and Jerry has replaced Sir as the head of JJM. But all is not well in The Avenue.

1977 Christmas Special: 'Silly, But It's Fun'

A dispute with the company supplying their Christmas leaves Margo and Jerry celebrating with Tom and Barbara.

Royal Command Performance: 'When I'm 65'

Tom realises he and Barbara have made no provision for the future.

The Good Life/ Good Neighbors

There were 30 episodes of the Good Life in all (see imdb for their titles), with Tom & Barbara coping with the best and worst that self-sufficiency can throw at you - terrible weather, poorly animals, poor crops and no money.

Self-Sufficiency gets a bit much for Barbara

The Good Life - Real life, or just TV?

The Good Life
The Good Life

The BBC News website has a lovely article examining whether The Good Life encouraged people to live more self-sufficient lives, and the 1970s "back to the land" culture that gave rise to the show.

Rodney, a Gloucester Old Spot boar
Rodney, a Gloucester Old Spot boar

Recreating The Good Life

Are you in to urban self-sufficiency?

I love The Good Life so much that it has inspired me to write a series of articles, looking at recreating the urban self-sufficiency experiment in the 21st century. What has changed, and what stays the same?

Article 1 - Chickens and food waste

Article 2 - Pigs and barter

Article 3 - Energy

Article 4 - Barter

Article 5 - Press

City Chicks - Keeping Micro-flocks of Laying Hens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-reyclers, and Local Food Producers

The perfect book for anyone who keeps, or is considering keeping, hens in an urban setting.

City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-reyclers, and Local Food Producers
City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-reyclers, and Local Food Producers

Chickens have become the mascot of local food supply movements. All across America municipalities are allowing and even encouraging residents to keep laying hens within city limits. Increasingly, keeping hens is becoming a part of the green movement. Green city managers wanting to save money on solid waste management budgets need only to encourage residents to keep laying hens.

Why? Because one chicken eats about 7 pounds of food "waste" a month. A few hundred households keeping micro-flocks of laying hens can not only turn kitchen waste into eggs, but the chicken manure can be combined with coop bedding and yard waste and transformed into compost and top soil for growing gardens. Chickens give communities the potential to divert tons of yard and food biomass "waste" from trash collection and, by doing so, save big-time tax payer dollars!

City Chicks shows how you can: have fresh, heart-healthy eggs, daily from your backyard home flock. Employ your chickens skill sets as garden workers, organic pesticiders, herbiciders, fertilizers, compost creators and top soil enhancers. Take the best care of your flock and become a Chicken Whisperer. City Chicks also explores in detail the civic side of chickens and how they can be employed as clucking city workers helping to divert food and yard waste from landfills and help decrease the global warming methane gas produced in landfills. Be a Primary Poultry Health Care Practitioner to save on vet bills. The Poultry's Pharmacy shows you how to make and use effective, inexpensive home treatments. Draft and pass local laws allowing laying hens within your town or city. Avoid roosters and why you do not want them. Do much, much more with chickens than you ever thought possible including outrageous chicken tricks.

City Chicks is a revolutionary way of keeping and using chickens by thinking outside the coop and inside the city. Over 120 photos, drawings, sketches, and tables give visual clarity. Other books by the author are: Chicken Tractor, Day Range Poultry, Backyard Market Gardening and A Tiny Home to Call Your Own.


Living the Good Life? Let me know!

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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thanks for reminding me - I'd forgotten all about the Good Life!

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 7 years ago

      The US version is just retitled, the episodes are the same.

    • jennysue19 profile image

      jennysue19 8 years ago

      Good lens. What I am interested to know is if the US version was just re-titled or completely re-made in a US setting. Having lived almost in Surbiton during my teenage years and visited often later because my Mum lived there, this series always felt like I was another neighbour. Do US cities have this kind of self-consciously middle-class suburbia in the same way that London and European cities do?

    • PatriciaJoy profile image

      PatriciaJoy 8 years ago from Michigan

      My husband got me hooked on this show. This lens brings back funny memories.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 9 years ago

      I love this show. There are so many great moments in it - particularly from Margo!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      The Good Life is one of my favourite shows!