Shiny Shelf

SHINY ADVENT: Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? – Christmas Special 1974

By Eddie Robson on 10 December 2006

Given that ‘Only Fools and Horses’ has had about three episodes designed to stand as its definitive finale, it’s hard to imagine a time when the BBC wasn’t bothered about giving closure to its sitcoms. By and large, they just ended when it was generally felt they’d made enough – a particularly inappropriate fate for ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ The show was rather ahead of its time, with a forward development more akin to a post-1980s sitcom: many episodes have a specific position in the ongoing story and it feels like it should have a definite end.

But it didn’t: as far as the BBC was concerned it ended here, with the show’s only Christmas special. Having just said that the series was ahead of its time, this episode feels extremely dated, as Bob (Rodney Bewes) indulges in a spot of light infidelity at a Christmas party – which his wife isn’t happy about, but oddly seems to regard as on a par with, say, staying in the pub when he should have been home for dinner with her parents, rather than grounds for divorce or anything. A very 1970s farce ensues as Bob tries not to get caught and Terry (James Bolam) gamely covers for him.

There’s still quality here, cos it’s Clement and La Frenais, but it’s hardly surprising that they grabbed the option of a feature film, or that they still toy with the notion of a third series based around Bob and Terry – if only Bolam would drop that daft grudge against Bewes…

Buy series two of ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ from Amazon.

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By Eddie Robson

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