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Films: L is for...

Likely Lads, The

Probably more accurately described as a film version of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? this further proves that not all sitcoms which set the action on holiday come unstuck. Crucially – and like Holiday On The Buses, below – the holiday is in Britain, caravanning in Northumbria to be precise. Bob and Terry are taken away by Thelma and Terry’s new girlfriend, Finnish Christina with hilarious results! But of course, we know that the real comedy comes from the interaction of the Lads themselves and their nostalgic/chauvinistic/pathetic musings on their lives and life. The two B’s, Bolam and Bewes, are just great and the Clement and La Frenais script is predictably brilliant. Sod your Forrest Gump, how’s this for confectionary based philosophy; “In the chocolate box of life the top layer has already gone…and someone’s nicked the orange cream from the bottom!” Class.



  1. Glenn Aylett

    August 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    The tower block where Terry Collier lived was in Howdon, Wallsend, and was a familiar landmark, with two identical tower blocks, for 30 years for motorists heading to Newcastle. Unfortunately like a lot of other, less famous tower blocks, it was prone to broken down lifts, as in the film, vandalism and structural problems and was demolished in 1991. The Likely Lads connection meant nothing to the residents or the local council who were glad to see it demolished.

  2. Lee James Turnock

    May 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    “I’d offer you a beer, Bob, but I’ve only got six cans.”

  3. Mark Geary

    August 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I watch this film at least once a year to remind me about England in the 70’s. All hail Radio Free Ferris.

    “Don’t worry kidda, I’ll be back to cock it all up for you”

  4. Glenn A

    September 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Also well known for cult horror star Anulka Dzubianka( hope I’ve got this right), trying to seduce Bob in the guest house. Always got the impression she might have turned into a vampire had things got a bit more dirty.

  5. Glenn A

    June 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve seen this film 50 times, never fail to laugh and wallow in the nostalgia. Wonder if Bob bought his Chevette from Harold Thompson( your Vauxhall people) in North Shields as this was the local main dealer for North Tyneside. Mind you the times it was smashed up in the film makes you wonder if Mr Thompson cancelled the warranty on the car.

  6. Richard16378

    June 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I do feel for Bob’s Chevette after everything that happens to it during the film.

    It’s also not too late for James Bolam to have a part in Dr Who so all 4 performers playing the main characters would have appeared.

    • Glenn A

      June 10, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Bob had a Viva in the television series, so the next car for him to buy would have been the more modern Chevette.
      Also I wonder what the fate of Bob and Terry would have been after Bob sailed off by accident to Bahrain in 1976. I reckon there would have been a massive falling out, and the two men going their seperate ways. Bob would have continued in construction, had 2.4 children with Thelma and retired reasonably well off. I reckon Terry would have had a blazing row with his mother over his failure to hold down a job, gone back to taxi driving, and built up a taxi firm and done far better than people expected.

  7. Richardpd

    November 23, 2022 at 11:09 pm

    Supposedly Clement and La Frenais considered writing a 3rd Likely Lads series in the 1980s-90s where Bob had lost his money in a financial crash & Terry had been awarded a lump sum for an industrial accident.

    As James Bolam didn’t want to return to play Terry it didn’t get anywhere.

  8. Sidney Balmoral James

    November 24, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    Felt a bit sorry for James Bolam when Rodney Bewes died, as internet / media was full of stories about them not speaking for thirty years, when clearly they had gone their separate ways (and it wouldn’t have been an issue if Bewes had enjoyed same sort of success as Bolam).

  9. Glenn Aylett

    November 24, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    I think what happened was a bit of sour grapes on the part of Mr Bewes, as Sidney points out above. Bolam left behind The Likely Lads in 1976 and enjoyed massive success in other shows, while Bewes career never reached the same heights again and he decided to play on his supposed fall out with Bolam. Also James Bolam, to his credit, is a very private man, rarely gives interviews and has avoided any kind of scandal, so his interview to a local radio station stating there was no feud and offering his condolences to Bewes family was appropriate and typical of Bolam.

  10. Richardpd

    November 24, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    Yes lots of people assumed James Bolam had a grudge against Rodney Bewes for accidentality letting slip in an interview that Bolam’s wife was pregnant, & had deliberately blocked repeats of The Likely Lads to deny Bewes royalties.

    The reality seemed to be that James Bolam just wanted to move on from Terry Collier & didn’t want to keep being connected with the character.

  11. Glenn Aylett

    November 26, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    The sitcom was never blocked by James Bolam, it was repeated several times after the seventies and the film is always shown at bank holiday time. I think this whole feud was invented by Rodney Bewes to cover up the fact his career went into decline in the eighties and Bolam went on to have massive success with his other roles. No doubt Bolam could have retaliated over Bewes behaviour, but he just sat back and ignored it and let it pass and his interview with Radio Sussex was honest and to the point: we drifted apart, I had other acting work and condolences to Rodney’s family.

  12. Sidney Balmoral James

    November 26, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    There certainly wasn’t a block on showing Whatever Happened, but was the Likely Lads – the 60s one – repeated much however? I don’t recall ever seeing it when I was young, but it may be the BBC didn’t want to show B&W programmes. I don’t remember them showing the B&W Steptoe and Sons either – Hancock was just about the only B&W BBC comedy they showed in 80s and 90s, and even then they didn’t tend to show the technically ropey ones like There’s An Airfield at the Bottom of My Garden, in which the collapsing set famously doesn’t behave itself). The whole of the Telegoons series has survived apparently (there’s episodes on Youtube), but never repeated by the BBC since 60s – I think only time BBC even acknowledged its existence was when they showed a short clip on Windmill. Hardly surprising given the buggers wiped so much material, and continued to do so until the digital era (I believe lots of 80s children’s programmes were wiped for example, not just Pete and Dud, Dr. Who, and the Lad Himself).

  13. Glenn Aylett

    November 26, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    The sixties Likely Lads fell victim to the BBC wiping most of their black and white programmes in the seventies. Some episodes survive, but they look very cheaply made and not as funny as the colour revival in the seventies.

  14. Richardpd

    November 26, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    I get the impression the original series were made on a low budget, normally only using a few sets & only occasionally any location.

    In the 1990s I caught the repeat of the episode where Bob & Terry get to meet a pen-pal for the first time, so I’ve not seen that many others.

    Certainly What Ever Happened To… had a lot more money spent on it, with usually lots of locations near Newcastle used rather than just finding suitable places in the Home Counties.

  15. Glenn Aylett

    November 27, 2022 at 11:54 am

    @ Richardpd, the original series was largely made in a studio, the North Eastern location was very ambiguous and for all the series was critically acclaimed at the time, it has dated very badly. I always prefer WHTTL as it has that corker of a theme tune, Terry’s character has developed more and the location is clearer( Newcastle, Wallsend and North Shields are mentioned and seen).
    In the film, though, some of the scenes are filmed in Borehamwood. I thought Bob’s house was on the Whitley Lodge estate in Whitley Bay, as it looks very similar, but the house is in Borehamwood, same as the library. Also the interior of Terry’s flat, while quite similar to the real flats in Howdon, was done in a studio and he is seen cooking on a gas cooker, when in reality the flats were all electric( ex girlfriend noted this error).

  16. Richardpd

    November 27, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    In WHTTL Bob’s house is in Killingsworth, rather than using somewhere in the home counties with similar modern houses.

    The petrol station in the film somewhere close to London, where Bob & Terry end up crashing into the back of the caravan.

    The Ronan Point disaster stopped the installation of gas in high rise flats, & some councils converted flats with it fitted to electricity.

  17. Adrian

    November 28, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    I think the best episode was when they all went on a caravanning holiday together..

    • Glenn Aylett

      November 28, 2022 at 8:41 pm

      @ Adrian, that’s the film, but it is hilarious in parts like when Terry is surrounded by a herd of cows and is terrified, the caravan being abandoned in Corbridge, and the bedroom farce in the guesthouse in Whitley Bay. Being a complete Likely Lads geek, I even visited the church this year where the caravan was abandoned and walked past The guest house in Whitley Bay( actually a very upmarket detached house).

  18. Richardpd

    November 28, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    The petrol station is on the A3044 just north of Heathrow. Earlier what’s supposed to be the same road is the A414 near Hatfield.

  19. William Tweddell

    November 30, 2022 at 11:28 am

    As someone born and bred in Sunderland in the 70s-90s, the lack of genuine north-east of England accents in WHTTL often amuses me. James Bolam aside there isn’t many at all, with many characters seemingly coming from the generic ‘north’. In my experience, it was very unusual for ‘outside’ accents to be heard in this part of the world yet the Elm Lodge Housing Estate seemed to be full of them!

    Not that it detracts from this wonderful programme at all, the sparkling scripts see to that, but it’s interesting (to me) there were more genuine north-east accents in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet around a decade later.

  20. Glenn Aylett

    December 10, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    @Richardpd, the road where the lads pick up Sandy and Glenis, and offer them a treacle toffee. Also Sandy, or is it Glenis, is played by a very young Vicky Michelle.
    Another location you can’t visit now as it’s fenced off for safety reasons in the pier in Tynemouth where Terry is fishing with his seven cans of Export. You can still visit the small beach behind, which has been the home of a sailing club for over 100 years.

  21. Droogie

    December 11, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    Always loved the WHTTLL theme tune written by La Frenais and Mike Hugg of Manfred Mann . But I heard the full version on a 70’s compilation CD a while back and was gobsmacked at its similarity to Let It Be. I wonder if Apple Must were ever in touch?

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