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Series / The Likely Lads

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The Likely Lads was a black and white Britcom that ran from 1964 to 1966 on The BBC. It followed the escapades of two young working-class men Oop North, Terry Collier (who was proud of his roots) and Bob Ferris (who wanted to better himself and become middle-class). It was created by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, and starred James Bolam as Terry and Rodney Bewes as Bob.

However, what most people remember now is Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, a revival that ran from 1973 to 1974, still written by Clement and La Frenais. In this show, Bob had succeeded in becoming middle-class and was engaged to the very middle-class Thelma, when Terry suddenly reappeared (he'd joined the army at the end of the original series), throwing his life into confusion.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? contains examples of:

  • Appointment Television: "No Hiding Place", where Bob and Terry desperately try to avoid Spoilers.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Bob implies this about Terry in "No Hiding Place".
    Bob: Well known fact: anyone who's always putting queers down and being aggressively masculine all the time - like you - is only masking their own latent tendencies.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Thelma is shocked to wake up next to Terry (whom she had mistaken for Bob) in “Home Is the Hero”.
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  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Bob's full name is revealed as Robert Andrew Scarborough Ferris - which is at least less embarrassing than Terry's guesses at what the S might stand for (Stalin, Sarajevo, Sands-of-Iwo-Jima...) It's still pretty embarrassing to explain: it's because he was conceived there.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "The Old Magic":
    Terry: ...with me virus and that blow? I can't think of eating. I doubt if my appetite will ever be the same again. (in the restaurant, a few nights later) I'll have the prawn cocktail, fillet steak well-done, chips, onion rings, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and sprouts. And can we have some more bread while you're at it?
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bob and Terry. Not that they weren't such in the first series, but even more so here.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Many episodes have the same title as classic films: Strangers on a Train, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Great Race, The Shape of Things to Come.
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  • The Movie: Also a Vacation Episode (they go caravanning). Just called The Likely Lads. The page image is the movie DVD cover.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Some scenes appear to be slightly contrived to show Thelma (Brigid Forsyth) undressing, or wearing a very short-cut slip, or on one memorable occasion leaning out of a window in a virtually see-through nightie.
  • Oop North: The series is set in Newcastle, although filming for the original series took place in the very Geordie location of East London. Only the second series was filmed on location in the North-East. Only Terry has anything like a realistic Geordie accent, and not nearly as strong as one would expect from his character. James Bolam was actually born in Sunderland, where the accent, though sometimes confused with Geordie, is subtly different. Other characters, including Bob and members of Terry's immediate family, mostly speak in generic Oop North accents (a sort of mild Yorkshire).
  • Pregnancy Scare: In "Heart To Heart":
    Susan: But only on one condition - only if Peter agrees to bring up Terry's baby as his own!
  • The Remake: In 2002 Ant and Dec starred in a remake of "No Hiding Place" under the title A Tribute To The Likely Lads. Rodney Bewes made a Remake Cameo as the newspaper vendor.

Alternative Title(s): Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads


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