Bob Larbey, co-writer of The Good Life, dies aged 79

Larbey worked with John Esmonde on the hit BBC sitcom, which attracted 15m viewers a week

Bob Larbey, the co-writer of BBC sitcom The Good Life, has died aged 79, his agent has confirmed.

The 1970s hit show about two neighbouring suburban couples was one of the prolific scriptwriter’s many successes with co-writer John Esmonde, who died in 2008.

Their work together spanned four decades and encompassed Ever Decreasing Circles, Brush Strokes and Please Sir!

Larbey’s solo successes included A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By.

But The Good Life, which ran between 1975 and 1978, was by far his most noteworthy work – it attracted some 15 million viewers a week and was voted the nation’s 9th favourite laugh in the Britain’s Greatest Sitcom poll.

It tells the story of 40-year-old Tom Good (played by Richard Briers), who abandons the rat race and converts his garden into a farm alongside his wife Barbara (Felicity Kendal).

Their neighbours are the henpecked Jerry and Margot Leadbetter (Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith).

The show simultaneously attacked both the middles class and the “alternative” lifestyle, evidencing Margot’s snobbishness as blindness and Tom’s obsessive self-sufficiency as over-the-top.

Larbey, who died on Monday, was born in south London in 1934. He attended school in the area, which was where he first met Esmonde. The pair began working together on comedy scripts and by the early 1960s they had enjoyed modest success with sketches for radio programmes such as I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again and television shows including The Dick Emery Show.

Their first major television breakthrough came with the secondary school-based Please Sir! in 1968. Its success led to a feature film and a follow-up series called the Fenn Street Gang

After The Good Life Larbey and Esmonde went on to write three more sitcoms for Richard Briers, starting with The Other One, which ran from 1977 to 1979. Briers also starred in Ever Decreasing Circles (1984-89) and Down to Earth (1995).

Larbey trod his own path with A Fine Romance (1981-84), which starred Judi Dench in her first ever television sitcom, alongside her real-life husband, Michael Williams.

His other solo successes included writing the screenplays for the first four episodes of The Darling Buds of May from a novel by H E Bates.

He worked again with Dench in As Time Goes By, where she was cast opposite Geoffrey Palmer in a show that ran for nine series and a couple of reunion specials between 1992 and 2005. 

Larbey married Patricia (Trish) Marshall, a scriptwriter for LWT, who died in 2006. He is survived by their son.

Read more: John Esmonde dies
Goodbye to Richard Briers
 
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas