Had you been out and about in the Tyne Valley 45 years ago, you might have seen two familiar faces and a BBC film crew among the winding country lanes.
As our photographs show, James Bolam and Rodney Bewes were happily shooting on location in the heart of rural Northumberland for the second series of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?
The now-classic series featuring the exploits of two thirtysomething pals – Terry Collier and Bob Ferris – was set on Tyneside, of course.
While series one of ‘Whatever’ re-united Terry and Bob after the former’s stint in the Army, series two saw Bob newly-married to the formidable Thelma and struggling to reconcile new-found domesticity to his long-term friendship with the Jack-the-lad Terry.
While Bob and Thelma aspired to the new upwardly-mobile pretensions of the decade – badminton clubs, dinner parties and cut-and-blow hairstyles – Terry harked back to a world of beer, birds and lads’ nights out.
Penned by the writing team of Whitley Bay-born Ian La Frenais and sidekick Dick Clement, the series perceptively reflected rapidly changing times in a region under transformation.
On October 23, 1973, Bolam and Bewes were filming for the episode Affairs and Relations, a typical British farce in which the pair go fishing, only to find Thelma’s dad ‘playing away’ with his blonde secretary in the same hotel.
Meanwhile, an amorous barmaid makes a play for Terry, just as Thelma turns up unexpectedly to spark a series of accusations and misunderstandings.
The episode is centred in the Barrasford Arms Hotel in the Northumberland village of the same name.
The Dipton Mill Inn also features and is where we see hen-pecked Bob in the phone box making his umpteenth call home to Thelma. (Remember the days before we all had mobile phones?)
Meanwhile, the episode shows Bob and Terry fishing in the River North Tyne near Haughton Castle, situated to the north of the village of Humshaugh.
Other than a 1976 spin-off feature film, this would be last we’d see of the Likely Lads. Bolam and Bewes fell out shortly after the film and never spoke again.
Rodney Bewes died last November, days before his 80th birthday. In an interview with the Chronicle a few years earlier, he said of the fall-out with Bolam “Yes, it’s very sad – especially as the show is remembered with so much affection.”
And was there ever any chance of a reunion? “No, never. The problem is that Jimmy Bolam hates the show. He feels it diminishes his as an actor. And I don’t understand it because it’s such a fantastic part, penned by brilliant writers. It’s so sad.”
Source : Chroniclelive