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TV: L is for...

Liver Birds, The

THIS HAS a lot to answer for, chiefly bequeathing Carla Lane upon the nation and her “daffy” “sassy” “Scouse” “wit”. In truth a rip-off of THE LIKELY LADS, but whisper it quietly in case Carla throws another strop and refuses to talk to anyone for the next 50 years. PAULINE COLLINS and POLLY JAMES were the first titular twosome, the former pissing off after five episodes to be replaced by NERYS HUGHES. Then Polly quit and ELIZABETH ESTENSEN took over, as someone called Carol Boswell (ach, the omens were there). Indeed, Carol had other Boswells lurking all too near the screen, including familiar sounding domineering Irish mother, wastrel bus driving father, and dopey brother Lucien who loved rabbits. Why couldn’t we see what was coming? 87 episodes in all, some of which were script edited by, of all people, ERIC IDLE. Revival in 1996 was, as with everyone else dredged up around that time (AGONY, …PERRIN, GRACE AND FAVOUR), rotten.



  1. Glenn Aylett

    July 14, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Had one of the coolest title sequences ever- the Mersey ferry, the Mersey tunnel and the Liver Building- with an excellent theme tune by The Scaffold. The theme tune is still one of the most recognisable of all time.

  2. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Eric Idle should have edited the scripts by setting fire to the buggers.

  3. Glenn A

    June 4, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Sad to say this week, Carla Lane passed away. Birds was probably at its best in the Polly James/ Nerys Hughes era( AKA the hotpants years) where the girls regularly got into scrapes, including one episode on a farm, and the stories were different most weeks. I think it went downhill after Polly James left and became rather preachy about animal rights and these episodes aren’t as good, although there is one gem where a bored Mr Boswell decides to take his bus into Wales for the day.

  4. Richardpd

    December 31, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    From what I’ve heard Pauline Collins was already committed to a play when it came round to making the second series.

    Carla Lane more or less confirmed that the Boswells in this were another branch of the family in Bread.

    While most UK TV buffs know about this, Butterflies & Bread (& maybe Solo on a good day), she also wrote a lot of now forgotten sitcoms in the 1970s-80s normally only running for a series or 2.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    December 31, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    @ Richardpd. Carla Lane also wrote some episodes of Bless This House. In the eighties she wrote a weird sitcom about recovering alcoholics called I Woke Up One Morning and another called The Mistress, about a middle aged woman having an affair( kind of sets the tone for her non Liverpool based sitcoms). Both didn’t fare well, but Bread rescued Lane for a couple of years, before the nineties beckoned and the useless Luv, a failed Scousecom, and yet another menopausal sitcom called Screaming, which was dire and lasted one series. Least said about the Liver Birds revival the better as the BBC gave Ms Lane her marching orders over it.

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