“I’d offer you a beer but I’ve only got six cans.”
Written by comedy legends Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, The Likely Lads TV series made its debut on the BBC in 1964 and ran for three years, detailing the adventures of Terry Collier (James Bolam) and Bob Ferris Rodney Bewes), two “likely lads” living in the North East of England (though the series was filmed in Willesden Junction, London) who had been friends since childhood.
While Bob was the sensible one trying hard to get on with his job and with life, Terry was always ready to lead Bob astray.
By the time of this 1976 big-screen spin-off, the pair had been back on the small screen in 26 colour episodes of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (1973-1974).
Terry has moved into a new high-rise apartment with his young Finnish girlfriend Christina (Mary Tamm), which doesn’t help Bob’s mid-life crisis.
Bob’s no-nonsense wife Thelma (Brigit Forsyth) sees an opportunity to get Terry married and settled down so suggests that the four of them go on a caravan holiday – which of course turns out to be a disaster, and as a result of the trip, Terry and Chris split up, and Bob and Thelma separate.
At one point the lads are in the doghouse with their respective partners and end up at a Whitley Bay B&B where they cop off with the landlady (Zena Walker) and her daughter (Playboy model Anulka Dziubinska). Things go wrong there too and they are forced to make a hurried, trouser-less, exit.
Terry eventually decides to emigrate and signs on as a deckhand aboard a ship leaving Newcastle docks. Bob joins him for a farewell drink on board his ship but Terry changes his mind at the last minute and disembarks – realising too late that Bob is still on board heading for Bahrain.
As big-screen TV spinoffs go, this is one of the best, with Bob referring to “the chocolate box of life” long before Forrest Gump did. You don’t even need to be familiar with the original series to get plenty of chuckles here, and time has given it added nostalgia value with lots of great shots of fashion-challenged 1970s Britain.
Rodney Bewes and James Bolam had a falling out during the production of the movie and apparently never spoke to each other again.
Bewes died on 21 November 2017, six days before his 80th birthday, in his seaside home at Cadgwith in Cornwall.
Tommy the Milkman
Joe the Landlord
Wendy (Bob’s Secretary)