This could really be a good life

Published February 28, 2022

Gardening implements and napping gardener

Although I claim not to be someone who can watch a lot of different TV shows at the same time, I do seem to have plenty of different series on the go at the moment. There’s just so much good stuff out there! But alongside the new stuff, there’s always a spot in my day for something a bit older and a bit more relaxing… something to switch off to rather than get completely invested in.

Recently, I wrapped up watching The Good Life on Britbox, and oh man, I really loved it. Made in the mid-to-late 70s, it features characters Tom and Barbara as they undergo something of a midlife crisis, give up work, and set up as self-sufficient in the suburbs of 70s London. They’re not particularly successful at it, but very enthusiastic, and I just revelled in their efforts.

There are four series and two following specials, so a total of 30 episodes following just over two years in this adventure that the Good’s take on, with their upper crust neighbours Margo and Jerry looking on, occasionally judging, and often interfering. It’s got gentle laughs and a lot of them come at the expense of Penelope Keith’s Margo, who is really put out by the increasingly rural next-door neighbours.

What I loved about this show, aside from the inspirational way Tom and Barbara throw themselves into this lifestyle, is their relationship with each other. They poke fun, they want only to have a good time, they work hard but try their best to enjoy themselves, they go with the flow, they don’t have kids or any intention of going down that road, and they support each other when their moods dip.

It’s amazing the things that Tom and Babs try to do - a goat for milk, chickens for eggs, pigs for meat, a digester in the cellar for turning manure into energy, a range for cooking, and in the later series’ a spinning wheel and a loom for making their own clothes. They grow veggies in the hopes of selling the surplus to be able to pay their council tax, and otherwise they live with little-to-no money, making do and mend wherever possible.

It’s incredible to think of this show being more than 40 years old but still somehow setting a template for how you could do this, how few people are doing this, how more of us could do with taking some tips (if not going full pigs-in-the-garden self-sufficient) about how to economise on money and materials. I’m so impressed, and might have to go back to the beginning and watch it again to take notes!

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