This is the story of a funny girl called Barbara.
Nick Hornby's 2014 novel is about Barbara from Blackpool, who is a very beautiful blonde obsessed with I Love Lucy. She wins Miss Blackpool, but doesn't want to be a paid-for pretty face and instead runs away to London. Almost immediately, a talent agent asks who she's signed with and if he can persuade her to swap sides - still, for modelling. After turning down modelling jobs, she's finally given a comedy acting audition for a Playhouse sketch. She begins to write for the show, and grows undeniable chemistry with her co-star - also one of her favourite comic radio actors. The sketch spawns several series on television. Though she had taken the stage name 'Sophie', the producers imagine a name like Barbara fits her character more - she reveals it's her actual name - and the show gets called "Barbara (and Jim)". Jim being her home counties husband whom misery befalls nearly Once an Episode.
- Comedienne: Set when the only example was Lucille Ball, Barbara's hero.
- Hidden Depths: To the people who only think she's eligible to be a model. Also, at the start she's assumed to be longing but never going to do anything about her dreams, so ditching the beauty contest prize and running away to London is a show of this.
- Tom Hanks Syndrome: Clive (who plays Jim) wanted to break into dramatic acting to get a reputation and build his career up, but the show brings him more notoriety than the dramas of the day would have.