The Good Life: ‘Silly But It’s Fun’ - A timeless TV Christmas classic

20 December 2023, 13:00

The Good Life Christmas special
The Good Life Christmas special. Picture: BBC

By Tom Eames

As the festive season approaches, it’s time to revisit one of the greatest Christmas TV episodes ever: “Silly But It’s Fun” from the beloved British sitcom, The Good Life.

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For many, the mere mention of festive TV brings to mind timeless classics like The Morecambe & Wise Show, Only Fools and Horses, Wallace and Gromit, and more recently, Gavin & Stacey.

However, nestled among these cherished memories is the often-overlooked gem, 'Silly, But It's Fun', the penultimate episode of The Good Life.

Airing on Boxing Day in 1977, this episode has etched itself into the annals of television history. The Good Life, known as Good Neighbors in the US, holds a special place in the hearts of viewers for its endearing characters and lighthearted humour.

Perfect Presents | The Good Life | BBC Comedy Greats

The series, which began in 1975, follows the misadventures of Tom and Barbara Good, played by the delightful Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall, as they embark on a journey toward self-sufficiency, much to the bewilderment of their more conventional neighbours, Jerry and Margot Leadbetter.

Despite consistently respectable viewership, 'Silly, But It's Fun' reached new heights with an impressive 21 million viewers during its initial broadcast, making it one of the most-watched programs in British history. Its enduring popularity lies not only in the charming appeal of The Good Life but also in the festive spirit that permeates the episode.

The Good Life
The Good Life. Picture: Getty

The Christmas special perfectly encapsulates the essence of the series. While the Goods celebrate the season with homemade delights on a shoestring budget, the Leadbetters spare no expense, spending A LOT of money on a society Christmas supplied by Harrods.

However, when a delivery issue occurs ("Christmas has not been delivered"), the Leadbetters are forced to spend Christmas with the Goods. But the simplicity of the Goods' festivities makes it one that both partners will remember forever.

The comedic contrast unfolds as the Goods' resourcefulness clashes with the Leadbetters' extravagance, creating a memorable combination.

The Short Christmas Tree | The Good Life | BBC Studios

The heartwarming episode features standout performances from the four leads, with a memorable guest appearance by David Battley as a laconic Christmas feast deliveryman. The Goods' selfless invitation to share their humble Christmas with the Leadbetters, complete with newspaper party hats ("but this it the Daily Mirror") and peapod burgundy, sets the stage for a festive feast of laughter and camaraderie.

One of the enduring charms of The Good Life was the subtle undercurrent of romantic tension between the two couples, heightened by the presence of mistletoe and holiday spirits.

As the evening progresses with drinks and party games, the episode takes a delightful turn, showcasing the chemistry between Tom and Margot, and Jerry and Barbara.

The climax of the episode, marked by the exchange of presents, is a moment of pure joy and surprise. Barbara's unique knitting skills are on display, but the ultimate gift comes from the Leadbetters—a cow. The heartfelt gesture leaves viewers with a lingering question: just where were the Leadbetters keeping a cow in suburban bliss?

As the years pass, 'Silly, But It's Fun' remains a beloved episode, cherished for its timeless humour and heartwarming Christmas spirit.

Despite not being shown every year nowadays, the memories of watching this classic Christmas special continue to endure, much like the enduring charm of The Good Life itself.