Where are the cast of The Good Life now? From tragic deaths to Strictly Come Dancing fame | The Sun
BEFORE the beloved BBC sitcom The Good Life went off the air 44 years ago it launched the careers of several TV stars — but where are they now?
The Good Life ran from 1975 to 1978 and became one of the UK’s most popular television sitcoms.
The BBC show launched the careers of stars like Felicity Kendal and Dame Penelope Keith, while propelling actors like Richard Briers and Paul Eddington further into the spotlight.
Richard and Felicity played Tom and Barbara Good, the couple who gave the series its name.
Stuffing a midlife crisis and wanting a big lifestyle change, he and Barbara decide to turn their suburban home into a self-sufficient allotment — much to the dismay of their wealthy neighbours Jerry and Margo Leadbetter (played by Paul and Penelope).
After four years of suburban antics, The Good Life ended, and the cast went their separate ways. So, where did the stars of this fan-favourite comedy end up 44 years later?
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Richard Briers CBE (Tom Good)
Thanks to his role as George Starling in the sitcom Marriage Lines Richard Briers was already a well-known British actor, but it wasn’t until he took on the role of Tom Good in the mid-1970s that he became a household name.
After starring in the BBC sitcom for four years, Richard continued his TV career, finding a home on another BBC sitcom a few years later. He played the unsympathetic Martin Bryce on Ever Decreasing Circles from 1984 to 1989. His character Martin was essentially the antithesis of Tom from The Good Life.
Richard then took on the role of Hector in BBC’s Scotland’s drama Monarch of the Glen. Later in his career, Richard also transitioned into film work, frequently collaborating with Sir Kenneth Branagh on Shakespeare productions like Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and As You Like It.
He was diagnosed with emphysema in 2007 and retired from acting in 2008. Richard sadly passed away in 2013 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He’s survived by his wife and fellow actress Ann Davis, and their two daughters, Lucy and Kate.
After his death, Kenneth Branagh shared a touching tribute to his friend, saying: “He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man. He was greatly loved and he is deeply missed.”
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Felicity Kendal (Barbara Good)
Playing Tom’s optimistic wife Barbara was actress Felicity Kendal.
Following her four-year stint on The Good Life, Felicity has enjoyed a varied career in TV and on stage. She also made her Blackpool Tower Ballroom debut on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010. She was partnered with Vincent Simone until the eighth week when the couple were eliminated.
Her theatre career includes notable appearances in West End productions of Humble Boy, Amy’s View, The Last Cigarette, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Vortex and Hay Fever.
Meanwhile, her TV roles range from the BBC’s production of Twelfth Night in 1980, to a starring role in the thriller Rosemary and Thyme from 2003 to 2006, to guest appearances in Doctor Who in 2008 and Pennyworth in 2019.
Off-screen, Felicity was married to the late Drewe Henley, a fellow actor known for his role in Star Wars: A New Hope, while starring in The Good Life. After 11 years of marriage, the couple divorced in 1979.
In 1983, she married the American theatre director Michael Rudman. They separated in 1991, but later reunited in 1998.
Felicity has two sons; Charley from her marriage to Drewe, and Jacob from her marriage to Michael.
Paul Eddington CBE (Jerry Leadbetter)
Tom and Barbara’s upper-class, conventional suburban neighbours Jerry and Margo Leadbetter were horrified when they turned their home into a self-sufficient allotment. Paul Eddington played Jerry, who worked with Tom until he and his wife decided to make this life change.
The Leadbetters were only intended to be minor characters, but Paul and Penelope’s chemistry with Richard and Felicity became so integral to the series that they appeared in all 30 episodes.
When The Good Life ended in 1978, Paul had no trouble transitioning into other TV roles. Just two years later he took on the title role of Jim Hacker in the comedy series Yes, Minister. He starred in the series until 1984, before taking on a main role in its spin-off Yes, Prime Minister for 1886 to 1888. His impressive performance in the spin-off even scored him four BAFTA nominations.
Paul later reunited with his co-stars from The Good Life, starring opposite Felicity in The Camomile Lawn in 1992, and then alongside Richard in the play Home in 1994.
The actor sadly passed away at the age of 68 in 1995. He’d been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called mycosis fungoides when he was just 28, and this was ultimately the cause of his death four decades later. He chose to keep his diagnosis private until the time of his death.
Dame Penelope Keith (Margo Leadbetter)
Dame Penelope Keith portrayed Jerry’s wife Margo Leadbetter. Her high-mannered disposition was quite different to that of her neighbours, and he was often comically offended by Tom’s innuendos. Her hilarious character was a hit, though, and in 1977, Penelope won the BAFTA for Best Comedy Partner.
After starring in The Good Life, Penelope chose to split her career between TV and stage projects. In 1798 she won her second BAFTA for Best Actress in the TV series The Norman Conquests.
Then, in 1979, Penelope took on the lead role in To the Manor Born, before nabbing starring roles in a further six sitcoms, including Sweet Sixteen, No Job for a Lady, Law and Disorder and Next of Kin.
Latterly, the actress has been busy presenting the Channel 4 series Village of the Year with Penelope Keith.
Ten years after The Good Life ended, Penelope adopted two sons with her husband Rodney Timson.
Reginald Marsh (Andrew/Sir)
Rounding out the main cast of The Good Life was Reginald Marsh’s character Andrew, Jerry’s boss who was typically dubbed Andy or Sir.
The London-born actor started acting at the age of 16, but it wasn’t until The Good Life that he reached a new level of fame. The role suited him and he soon started taking on other similar parts. He played Humphrey Pumphrey in Man About the House spin-off George and Mildred, and Sir Dennis Hodge in Terry and June.
Between the 80s and 90s, Reginald had a number of smaller television roles, and a main role in ITV’s soap opera Crossroads, from 1981 to 1985.
He retired from acting in the late 1990s and moved to the Isle of White where he spent the remainder of his life. Reginald sadly passed away in 2001 at the age of 74.
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