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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore