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L to R: Sharon, Dorien, Tracey

"No men, no money... no problem!".
Tagline on the Series 1 DVD.
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A Brit Com starring Real Life best friends Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke as sisters with Lesley Joseph as their flamboyant man-eater of a friend/neighbour.

Tracey Stubbs (Robson) is Happily Married to successful builder Darryl Stubbs (Alun Lewis, then Douglas McFerran) and has a big house, plenty of money and a son, Garth (Simon Nash, then Matthew Savage), at boarding school. Sharon Theodopolopodous (Quirke) is unhappily married to the lazy Chris (David Cardy, then Peter Polycarpou) and has a cheap council flat and a job in a supermarket. However, Darryl's business isn't as successful as he makes out and he and Chris are arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to twelve years in prison. Tracey feels unable to cope on her own so Sharon, partly to comfort her and partly to get away from her own miserable life, moves in with her. The two spend their days adjusting to life without husbands, trying to earn money and taking the mick out of their snobby, over-sexed neighbour, Dorien Green (Joseph), who is forever having affairs behind the back of her accountant husband, Marcus (Nickolas Grace).

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The original series aired on The BBC from 1989 to 1998. A new series started on ITV in 2014, 16 years after the "final" episode. It starts off with Tracey still in her Big Fancy House with only her youngest son, Travis (Charlie Quirke), for company, Sharon back in her council flat and Dorien writing novels under the name "Foxy Cohen", until events conspire to bring the Birds back together, alongside Garth (now Matt Willis, then Samuel James) who now has a wife, Marcie (Camilla Beeput), and stepdaughter, Poppy (Bethany Attrup). The revival lasted for three series (2014-2016) followed by two Christmas specials, one in 2017 and a further one in 2020 (without Quirke, who'd taken a hiatus from acting to concentrate on her performing arts academy). The series was permanently cancelled after the 2020 special.

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Tropes of a Feather:

  • The '90s: Even the revival still very much feels like it in terms of the humor, clothes, and general vibe.
  • Aborted Arc: The Series 3 Christmas special, "We'll Always Have Majorca", ends with Tracey pregnant with Darryl's baby. This plot point isn't brought up in Series 4 and Tracey doesn't get pregnant again until Series 7.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • People do have a tendency to accidentally misname Dorien as "Doreen". This is normally done by Darryl and Chris, but other people, including Lorraine Kelly in one episode, have also misnamed her.
    • Dorien accidentally calls Darryl "Derek" in "Relative Strangers".
  • Actor Allusion: In the opening scene of the episode "Tattoo You", Tracey and Sharon are watching a murder mystery show on TV where a body is discovered on a beach next to a burning boat. Pauline Quirke, who plays Sharon, appeared in Broadchurch, an 8-part television series that aired in the UK, about the murder of a young boy whose body was discovered on a beach near a boat that had been set on fire.
    Tracey: How do you know?
    Sharon: Because they always find a body on the beach in one of those creepy seaside things, like... Broadcliff, or...Southchurch, or... Western super Mare!"
  • Affectionate Nickname: Each of the main characters has an affectionate nickname used by the others, normally a shortened variation of their actual name. Sharon has "Shal", Tracey has "Trace", Dorien has "Dor", and Garth is usually "Garthie". (Although Dorien seldom if ever uses these names when talking to the others).
  • Age Cut: The opening credits, from season two, shows the two sisters growing up (using real photos since, while not sisters, the actresses really did grow up together).
  • Age Insecurity: It's a bit of a minor gag with Dorien that she lies about her real age to the girls, partially out of embarassment over the fact that she is aging and partially out of vanity. For instance, "Nearest and Dearest" has her clearly about to tell Sharon that she tries to keep on the right side of 50 but, realizing what she's about to say, she amends it to say the right side of 40 instead. Meanwhile, "Forever Young" suggests that she's edited her Wikipedia page so that it claims that she's only 37, even though she's now closer to 70.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When discussing how to get help to escape a locked parking garage in "Sunday":
    Dorien: Let's shout in unison.
    Tracey: No, I think we should shout "Help".
  • Away in a Manger: Tracey gives birth in a stable in the Series 9 Christmas special, "Holy Ground".
  • Awful Wedded Life: Sharon and Chris, in contrast to Tracey and Darryl. Tracey describes Sharon as, "The most mistreated wife since Anne Boleyn." Presumably Dorien and Marcus' marriage isn't very happy either but we don't see enough of Marcus to be sure. Later switched when they're released: Chris decides to go straight for Sharon's sake, and Darryl gets them both arrested again. Tracy tells Darryl (whom she previously believed to be innocent) that this time she won't be waiting for him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dorien returns to save Tracey and Sharon from the parking garage they were trapped in on "Sunday". (Although she did find an exit hours ago and just didn't tell them because she wanted to have a bath).
  • Big Fancy House: Tracey and Dorien both have one, at least by UK standards, until midway through Series 7 when financial circumstances force them all to downsize.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • In the new series, Dorien has found fame as the author of Sixty Shades of Green. Subverted Trope when she gets sued for plagiarism by E. L. James.
    • Dorien and Sharon work in "World of Quid" a fictionalised version of Poundland. For extra points, the shop is clearly a former Woolworths with some of the letters still used in the sign - Poundland is the largest owner of former Woolies stores.
  • Breakfast in Bed: In "An Inspector Stays", Garth makes Tracey breakfast in bed, but this worries her because it's a sign that he's acting too nice to her.
    Dorien: Can I smell a full English breakfast?
    Sharon: Tracey's just had it in bed.
    Dorien: With whom?
    Tracey: On my own. You're a trollop, you are.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the end of the Clip Show, "The Chigwell Years", Dorien asks Tracey and Sharon if the little girls in the footage over the end credits are actually them, to which they smile at each other.
  • British Brevity: Actually averted between Series 2 and 7, while the rest were only 6-8 episodes long.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Sharon in "Women's Troubles" from Series 1. After Chris' arrest, she started seeing another man and was shocked when he managed to knock her up, believing herself to be infertile. Turned out it was Chris who was infertile.
  • Cabin Fever: The girls get locked inside a parking garage in "Sunday" and begin to lose it.
  • Christmas Episode: Several.
    • "Sailing" (Series 1).
    • "Falling in Love Again" (Series 2).
    • "We'll Always Have Majorca" (Series 3).
    • "The Chigwell Connection" (Series 4).
    • "It Happened In Hollywood" (Series 5).
    • "Christmas In Dreamland" (Series 6).
    • "Reservoir Birds" (Series 8).
    • "Holy Ground" (Series 9).
    • "Birds on a Plane" (Series 11).
    • "There's a Girl in My Souk" (Series 12).
    • "The House For The Rising Sons" (Series 12).
    • "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" (Series 12).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Garth's wife Kimberley and their baby are not even mentioned again when the series was revived on ITV.
  • Clip Show: "The Chigwell Years", which featured Tracey, Sharon and Dorien thinking back over the past six series as Tracey writes her memoirs.
  • Comedic Work, Serious Scene: The show is usually a comedy that focuses on two sisters living together after the arrest of their husbands. However, "Women's Troubles", which concerns Sharon falling pregnant, ends with a scene Played for Drama in which she breaks down whilst admitting to Tracey that she has just had an abortion.
  • Continuity Nod: In "Cheers", Darryl is released from prison and returns to Dalentrace and is shocked to see that the kitchen is different, to which Garth explains that Sharon blew it up two series ago in "Bang".
    • In "Relative Strangers", Dorien mocks Sharon for being thrown out by a newly-released Darren by quoting the lyrics from I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, which Sharon sung in a karaoke contest in "Okey-Cokey-Karaoke".
  • Cruise Episode: The plot of the first Christmas Episode, "Sailing", has Tracy receive tickets to a romantic cruise on the Dana Anglia from her convicted husband. Although she initially refuses to go, Dorien devises a plan to get her and Sharon on board the ship. The last minutes of the episode are also set on the ship as they prepare to enjoy the cruise.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sharon, often at Dorien's expense.
    Dorien: He doesn't seem interested. I don't understand it!
    Sharon: Perhaps you're being too subtle.
    Dorien: I hardly think so. When he came round this morning, I opened the door in my underwear.
    Sharon: I didn't know you had a door in your underwear! What is it - a tradesmen's entrance?
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Chris at his trial in "Nicked". When the judge has trouble pronouncing his surname, Chris calls him a "stupid old fart", the judge holds him in contempt of court and Chris responds, "Big deal, I'm down for a ten year stretch anyway, aren't I?" resulting in his and Darryl's sentences being increased to twelve years.
  • Disappeared Dad: Sharon and Tracey's father, who went missing when they were little, leaving them to be brought up by various other relatives after their mother died. In the Series 5 Christmas special, "It Happened In Hollywood", they discovered his name was George Hamilton and, at Sharon's insistence, wasted a trip tracking down the film star George Hamilton (As Himself) and never found their real father.
  • Driven to Suicide: Darryl in "Never the Twain" when he realises Tracey has finally had enough of him and isn't going to wait for him to get out of prison. Luckily, he is sent to prison hospital and recovers.
  • Drop-In Character: Dorien. In "An Inspector Stays", she smashes a window to get through the locked door and when Sharon confronts her, she simply asks how she was supposed to get in if the door was locked.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first series had a very odd title sequence, showing Sharon and Tracey standing together in a darkened room in a way that made them look more like lovers than sisters, while the theme song was performed by a man, in a very downbeat manner. Starting with the second series, this was changed to the more familiar sequence showing pictures of them growing up together, and in the third series the theme song was now sung by the actresses in a slightly more up-tempo fashion.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: "Tattoo You" reveals that Sharon has, unbeknownst to her, had a tattoo of Norman Parker inside her butt for about 40 years. Once this is pointed out to her, she lies about her age so that she can get money meant for free hearing aids and uses said money to remove the tattoo instead.
  • Estranged Soap Family: The 2020 Christmas special, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place", only features Tracey and Dorien of the original characters, with Sharon quarantined in Costa Rica due to Covid. Garth and Travis are also absent with no explanation given to their whereabouts.
  • Everybody Smokes: And all over the expensive furniture. Darryl smokes cigars while everyone else sticks to cigarettes.
  • Evolving Credits: The first series-opening was a sombre affair depicting the sisters walking down a darkened hallway and standing together. The second series-opening changes this to an opening depicting pictures of the sisters as they grew up over the years. The revival's opening updates the footage, incorporating video footage and even a scene from the original series into the opening. Finally, the final Christmas Special (which aired in 2020) just used a Title-Only Opening.
  • Expy Coexistence: Dorien's book "Sixty Shades of Green" is a play on Fifty Shades of Grey. She ends up in legal trouble from the publishers of the latter thinking she is plagiarising their book.
  • Faint in Shock: Dorien does this after her nails are chopped with a meat cleaver in the Series 2 Christmas special, "Falling in Love Again".
  • Fat and Skinny: The sisters. Tracey is short and skinny, and Sharon is tall and fat.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Tracey has a nice house and a nice life, while Sharon is living off her since she can't afford her horrible flat any more, and doesn't seem to think through the consequences of her actions. Although Tracey's "respectability" isn't portrayed positively, and she's often shown to be foolish in different ways.
  • Foreign Remake: Stand By Your Man, a short-lived American remake starring Rosie O'Donnell that ran in 1992.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral":
    • In Series 7 episode "Nearest and Dearest", Sharon pretends to be attending a funeral in order to get away from a day out planned by Dorien. Eventually, Dorien invites herself to attend the funeral with Sharon at a hippy gathering where neither of them knows anyone there.
    • Later on, in Series 12 episode "Knocking On Heaven's Door", Darryl dies and, just before the funeral, Dorien has sex with a man at the back of the hearse, with the horse running away in response to a loose gunshot.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: When the girls get locked in a dingy parking garage in "Sunday", Dorien tries to keep a level head, until her phone's battery dies and she loudly begins panicking. Sharon then slaps her to shut her up.
    Tracey: She's goin' Shal. She's goin' 'ysterical again. SMACK HER SHAL. SMACK 'ER!
  • The Ghost:
    • Marcus (Dorien's husband) spent most of the series' run as this, only getting four or five on-screen appearances over the course of twelve series.
    • After featuring heavily in the first 7 series, Darryl stops appearing on-screen and only exists via the other characters mentioning him until his death in Series 12.
  • Gilligan Cut: Occurs in "Muesli" when Tracey and Sharon are trying to escape a locked room. Sharon decides to go to the roof via the window, to which Tracey says she refuses to go on the roof. Smash cut to the two on the roof yelling at Dorien.
  • Gold Digger: Dorien, regarding Marcus. Money is the only thing she gets out of the marriage.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Tracey and Sharon's attempt to get Dorien out of her car in "Sunday".
    Tracey: We're sorry Dor. We just got a bit hyper. If you come out, we'll give ya mints a day early. We'll be really nice to ya, in fact we'll love ya to death.
    Sharon: Oi. If you don't come outta there, I'm gonna set fire t' this and dance 'round the flames.
  • Got Me Doing It: Dorien briefly picks up Tracey and Sharon's common talk in "Sunday".
    Dorien: Oh, well, surprise surprise, it has to be something of mine, well I ain't... I haven't got anything either.
  • Happily Married: Tracey and Darryl, in contrast to Sharon and Chris. This changes over the course of the series, and by Series 10, they're divorced.
  • Haunted Technology: The plot of "Ghost" has the girls dealing with a haunted VHS player.
  • He's All Grown Up: When Dorien and the sisters catch Garth and Dorien's young relative Rosa in a sauna together, Dorien exclaims "heavens hasn't he grown!" (In more ways than one).
  • Housewife: Tracey and Dorien, the perk of having rich husbands. Although Tracey later starts working.
  • Hypno Fool: Dorien puts Sharon under in "Mind Over Matter" in an attempt to cure her phobia of dentists. This doesn't work and makes Sharon think she's working at a McDonald's.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Dorien was utterly outraged that Marcus had an affair for several years and even produced a child with his mistress, despite her own inglorious record of infidelity.
    • In "High Fidelity", Tracey fancies an illiterate but attractive man, so Sharon reminds her that she is still married. This is despite the fact Sharon has also had at least an equal number of boyfriends while their husbands have been in prison as has Tracey.
  • Hypocritical Humour: In Series 9 episode "Mummies and Daddies", Tracey chastises Sharon by saying, "you can be so vulgar sometimes. It really gets on my tits".
  • Hysterical Woman: Tracey and Sharon spend most of "Ghost" in a panic when they think their house is haunted while Dorien tries to bring them back to reality.
    • Tracey and Dorien freak out when they get locked inside a parking garage in "Sunday", and Sharon is now the one to calm them down.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Dorien begins developing cannibalistic thoughts when locked inside a parking garage with Tracey and Sharon in "Sunday".
    Sharon: Take no notice of 'er Trace. She wouldn't eat us, we're not kosher.
    Dorien: Well I wouldn't eat you anyway. You must be full of E numbers!
    • Tracey and Sharon then flip it back on her.
    Sharon: Me and Tracey are partial to a bit o' Jewish nosh. We could go a bit of gefilte Dorien.
    Tracey: That's right. I've never 'ad Dorien on a bagel.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In "Ghost", Sharon's reaction to the idea that the reason her VHS player is recording programs starring dead people is that the VHS player in question is haunted is to go to the kitchen and have a beer.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between the sisters and Dorien. Dorien won't admit to it though and gets highly insulted whenever someone mistakes her for the girls' mother.
  • It's All About Me: Dorien. One particularly striking occasion was in "Okey-Cokey-Karaoke", when Tracey and Sharon are weeping over not having enough money for a cheap holiday, to which Dorien coldly replies "Ah what a pity. Anyway, onto me", and starts discussing her plans to have breast implants.
  • Jewish American Princess: Dorien, a middle-aged Jewish divorcee who acts as if she is still in her twenties, has a sense of entitlement a mile high, sees the other two women as a combination of personal servants and people who are there to make her life easier; she refuses to scale down her expectations and believes the world is there to meet her demands. Dorien is a middle-aged British JAP who has never grown up.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the newer ITV series, one of the clips in the theme song depicting Tracey and Sharon growing up is from the BBC series, since even the original series is over a decade old.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Dorien, most of her lovers are somewhat younger than her, not that any of them ever complain.
    • In the revival, the much-older Dorien is called this by Tracey's son Travis.
    Dorien: Surely you're not comparing me to Mrs T!
    Travis: [scoffs] Oh no — she was years younger.
    • There is an actual episode called "Mrs Robinson", where Garth has a relationship with an older woman called Linda, who later on bonds strongly with Tracey (much to Garth's annoyance).
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Tracey is the Nice, being the one most likely to criticize the schemes and scams of the other two women (although she has her moments). Sharon is the "In-Between", nicer than Dorien but more foolish than Tracey, and more likely to fall for or create schemes than her. Dorien is the "Mean", usually seen snarking and mocking the other two, and having an It's All About Me attitude in general (to say nothing of her numerous affairs...).
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: In a skit for Comic Relief, Tracy has hired two cleaners, who turn out to be French and Saunders doing near-perfect Sharon and Tracy impressions. Tracy's reaction to them is a contemptuous "South Londoners!"
  • One-Word Title: Several through the series:
    • "Nicked", "Shift", "Cheat!" and "Substitute" (Series 1).
    • "Muesli", "Mice", "Trust" and "Parting" (Series 2).
    • "Confidence", "History", "Cuckoo", "Schooling" and "Business" (Series 3).
    • "Breadwinner", "Commitments", "Caring", "Belongings" and "Loyalty" (Series 4).
    • "Bang" (Series 5).
    • "Compulsion", "Moving" and "Out" (Series 6).
    • "Cheers" and "Porridge" (Series 7).
    • "Baggage" and "Money" (Series 8).
    • "Ghost", "Sunday", "Model" and "Nuptials" (Series 9).
    • "Slave" (Series 10).
    • "Sailing" (Christmas Special).
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Sharon and Tracey certainly don't have an overly wonderful relationship with Darryl's parents Les and Olive, who are always trapped in the past and try to make Tracey in particular feel guilt about her comfortable living conditions, going on about "bouncing Darryl on my knee" and his bed-wetting. All the same, Sharon's relationship with her Greek Cypriot in-laws is, if anything, even more tumultuous, especially Chris' mother, who hates Sharon for not providing her with any grandchildren.
  • Only Sane Man: Dorien in "Ghost". Tracey and Sharon are too frightened to be rational, and Dorien manages to host a successful séance to remove the ghost from their VHS player.
  • Out of Focus: Chris and Darryl, the sisters' husbands, were usually featured heavily in each episode of the first 7 series. After Series 7 however, their appearances were dropped drastically, with Chris only appearing in two episodes afterward and Darryl becoming The Ghost until his off-screen death in Series 12.
  • Out with a Bang: Marcus nearly dies in "Still Waters Run Deep" of a heart attack while having sex with another woman.
  • Overly-Long Name: Theodopolopdous is at least two syllables longer than a surname really ought to be. Not surprisingly, Sharon hates it.
  • Parent with New Paramour: During Series 8 and 9, Dorien falls into a relationship with a man named Richard and tries to have a loving relationship with his children from a previous marriage. Problem is that neither get along very well - Dorien calls the children spawns of hell, whilst Richard's daughter calls her a witch bitch. It's this poor relationship that is the leading factor in the collapse of the relationship by "Mummies and Daddies".
  • Pun: Often dropped by Sharon. For example, while playing Monopoly in "The Beautiful Game", she referred to "Dorien's Boobs, also known as The Community Chest.".
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: According to "Tattoo You", Dorien is quite partial to the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock.
  • Practically Different Generations: Garth is about 22 years old when younger brother Travis is born in "Holy Ground".
  • Put on a Bus: Sharon is absent from the final episode, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place", due to being trapped in Costa Rica due to Covid-19.
  • Really Gets Around: Dorien, very much so.
  • Rich Language, Poor Language: Chris, Sharon, Darryl and Tracey (despite the latter two having become wealthy through his activities - both licit and illicit) versus Dorien and most other Chigwell residents.
  • Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling: At the start of the series, Tracey is living in an upmarket house in Chigwell whilst Sharon (her sister) was poorer and lived in a council flat in Edmonton.
  • Role Swap Plot: In the 1994 Christmas special, Sharon dreams about being a wealthy, glamorous wife to successful singer Chris, while Tracey, Darryl and Garth are in a council flat and Dorien is a virginal cleaner.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The show was adapted for the stage in 2012 by The Comedy Theatre Company, with the original actors reprising their roles (alongside Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson's real-life children playing Travis).
  • Series Fauxnale: The series was supposed to end once and for all with Tracey giving birth in an Irish stable on Christmas Day, but it was revived sixteen years later on a different channel.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silver Vixen: Dorien, although obviously middle-aged, always makes an effort to look good and it pays off. She was never short of willing young men.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Darryl has a poor relationship with both Sharon and Dorien, regarding them both as embarrassing and holding Tracey back (in different ways).
    • Dorien and her supposed 'friend' Melanie Fishman, who are always gossiping about each other and seeking one-upmanship against each other.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Up to a point, though in comparison to e.g. Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances, Dorien's snobbery is rather milder and more sporadic.
  • Story Arc: In Series 7, Marcus catches Dorien having one of her affairs and begins divorce proceedings, only for Dorien to discover that Marcus had been having an affair of his own, with a bastard lovechild to boot!
  • Tie-In Novel: Released in 1993, Dorien's Diary: My Secret Confessions is a Defictionalisation of Dorien's diary as she details her misadventures.
  • Title Drop: When Tracey and Sharon were attempting to start up a cleaning business in "The Essex Patient", Tracey suggested "Birds of a Feather" as a name for it.
  • Trivial Tragedy: Played for Drama in "Nuptials" when Dorien starts crying over the fact that her champagne has become flat, seeing as it's a sign that she's severely depressed.
  • Unseen No More: Dorien's old toyboy Luke from the early series finally makes his only appearance in Series 8's "Baggage".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sharon and Tracey may snark at Dorien (and vice versa), but they will always be there when any of the others are in need.
  • Written-In Absence: Sharon’s absence is explained as being due to being quarantined in Costa Rica during the events of the final Christmas Episode. The real life reason for this is because her actor had decided to retire from acting to focus on her performing arts academy.
  • Your Door Was Open: Parodied, where Dorien had a habit of just walking into her neighbors' house. In "An Inspector Stays", they locked the door. She smashed the glass panel next to the lock, undid it, and came in anyway, while they were standing right there staring at her in disbelief.
  • The Vamp: Dorien.

 
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