A young man, inching his way up from working-class traditions via a white-collar job, finds himself trapped by the frightening reality of his girlfriend's pregnancy and is forced into ... See full summary »
A young engineer is sent to post-WWII Berlin to help the Americans in spying on the Russians. In a time and place where discretion is still a man's best friend, he falls in love with a ... See full summary »
Divorced working woman Alex and well-to-do Jewish family doctor Daniel Hirsh share not only the same answering service but also the favours of young Bob Elkin who bed-hops between them as ... See full summary »
Karen McCann's eldest daughter is raped and murdered whilst on the phone with her. When the case against Robert Doob, the perpetrator, is dismissed because of a technicality, she starts ... See full summary »
Re-united after 50+ years apart, Celia and Alan decide to marry. At age 16, Alan's late wife failed to pass on his letter with apology for missing first date and forwarding address. Both now have daughters with lover troubles.
Following the huge success of Keith Waterhouse's 'Billy Liar' as a novel, stage play and film, it was inevitable that this 'oop North' Walter Mitty character would star in a television series. I saw 'Billy Liar' when it was originally transmitted. While never quite attaining 'Fawlty Towers' heights of hilarity, this programme was consistently funny, with at least two or three solid belly-laughs per episode. To the best of my knowledge, 'Billy Liar' has never been repeated in Britain, nor shown in America. If the original tapes still exist, I can't imagine why they're being suppressed ... unless perhaps Keith Waterhouse has some legal reason for suppressing them. However, as he was head writer for this sitcom, I can't guess what his objections might be.
Newcomer Jeff Rawle was perfectly cast as callow Billy Fisher, whose imagination far outstrips his achievements. Much of the substantial humour in this sitcom sprung from the interaction between Billy and his sarcastic father Geoffrey, or between Billy and his long-suffering employer, Mr Shadrack the undertaker.
Perhaps what's discouraged programmers from repeating this sitcom is the extreme 1970s look of the series. Waterhouse created Billy Liar in the 1950s and saw him through the swinging Sixties, yet Jeff Rawle's interpretation of Billy Liar is firmly trapped in the 1970s, and that naff decade's definition of manliness. Rawle is emaciated, clean-shaven, wistful, with flares and longish hair ... looking almost like a girl, in other words. Not effeminate, yet somehow almost feminine. By way of contrast, Billy's father Geoffrey is played by George Cooper with absolutely no hair at all. It may well be that slap-headed Geoffrey Fisher's resentment of his son is down to his own baldness versus his son's excess of hair. On the vocal front, Rawle's accent was just a shade too Brum for this North Country character, but Cooper's broad Northern vowels were spot-on.
I never identified with Billy Liar, me -- my own lies were of a different sort, told for a different reason -- but this series aired during a troublesome time in my own life ... and I'd be delighted to see these episodes again, partly on their own merit but largely because of the memories they would summon regarding my own troubles at this time. I'll rate 'Billy Liar' 7 out of 10.
12 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?