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
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...
£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...
£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...