The Likely Lads is a 1976 British comedy film directed by Michael Tuchner, starring James Bolam and Rodney Bewes. It's a spin-off from the popular 1960s British television series The Likely Lads, from which it takes its title, though in fact it's closer in tone to the more recent sequel series Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?
The screenplay is by the scriptwriters of the television show, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais; and the principal roles of Bob and Terry, as well as those of Bob's wife Thelma and Terry's sister Audrey, are played by the original television cast.
An opening pre-credits sequence shows the conception of both Lads during a World War II Air raid. After the opening titles the film cuts to Bob and Terry, both aged about thirty, playing football with some eleven-year-old children.
The main plot begins with Bob and Terry's favourite watering hole, The Fat Ox, being demolished. The middle class Bob feels great sentimentality for this loss, whereas the working class Terry, who is now living in a high rise council flat, is more optimistic about the city's redevelopment, pointing out that he now has a "modern kitchen, a lovely view and an inside lavatory". From this establishing sequence the plot unfolds: Terry receives his final divorce decree, freeing him from his wife in West Germany, and is looking forward to a bright future; Bob on the other hand is growing tired of his married life with Thelma, and jaded with his social activities (ironically, the two things he had boasted about in the television series).
Terry begins a love affair with Christina (or 'Chris' as she's known), a Finnish beauty, of which Bob is openly envious. Thelma sees this as an opportunity to get Terry married and settled down, thus removing the perceived threat to her marriage to Bob which Terry, as Bob's life-long best friend, represents. In her pursuit of this, Thelma insists on the four of them going away on a caravanning holiday in Northumberland; but while Thelma and Chris enjoy the trip, Bob and Terry do not. They hitch up the caravan, with the girls asleep in it, and set off to drive home. However, while they're stationary at some e traffic lights, Thelma and Chris get out, and Bob drives away before they can get back in, stranding them. Not realising they're now alone, Bob and Terry nevertheless pick up Sandra and Glenys, two attractive young female hitch-hikers, before Thelma and Chris catch up with them again.
As a result of the trip, Terry and Chris split up, and Bob and Thelma separate. Bob decides to stay temporarily at Terry's new flat; but Terry (who is not expecting him) is busy seducing Iris, a colleague of Chris', and Bob unwittingly walks in on their lovemaking. Due to a misunderstanding, both Bob and Thelma believe the other is having sexual relations elsewhere, and have a furious argument in the back of Terry's van. Unbeknownst to them, the van's public address system is still switched on, broadcasting their argument across the neighbourhood. Terry loses his job because of this incident.
Bob and Terry drive up to Whitley Bay for a weekend break, and take a room in a Bed and Breakfast. Bob promptly seduces the landlady's daughter, and Terry seduces the landlady. But after hearing noises from her daughter's bedroom the landlady walks in, and Bob has to make a quick getaway through the bedroom window. The same then happens to Terry, with the daughter walking in on him in bed with her mother; and this time it's Terry who makes a rapid and trouserless departure through the bedroom window. But when the landlady goes down to the front door to let Terry back in, Bob appears instead, without his trousers, causing her to cry rape. The Lads make a hasty - and trouserless - departure in Bob's car; but they walk back into Terry's flat to find Thelma and Terry's sister Audrey there, with neither Bob nor Terry able to explain the absence of their trousers!
Taking Audrey's advice, Terry makes plans to emigrate. He signs on as a deckhand aboard a ship leaving Newcastle docks, and the two Lads spend his last night in England drinking on board the ship. Terry, however, finally decides not to go. He disembarks; but Bob - heavily intoxicated - falls asleep on board, and awakes to discover the ship has sailed. The last scene in the film has Terry explaining to Thelma that they'll realise Bob is aboard by accident, and drop him off at the first port of call - Bahrain.
Throughout the film Bob's car,the recently introduced Vauxhall Chevette suffers as much indignity as the human characters, having the wheels stolen, crashed across the carriageway to Terry's horror, an accident with the caravan and while escaping trouserless from the guest house, Terry insists Bob breaks the window to get in, only for Terry to discover his door wasn't locked, and suggest that Bob should be more careful.
- Rodney Bewes as Bob Ferris
- James Bolam as Terry Collier
- Brigit Forsyth as Thelma Ferris
- Mary Tamm as Christina
- Sheila Fearn as Audrey Collier
- Zena Walker as Laura
- Anulka Dziubinska as Dawn
- Alun Armstrong as Milkman
- Judy Buxton as Iris
- Vicki Michelle as Glenys
- Penny Irving as Sandy
- Michelle Newell as Alice
- Susan Tracy as Edith
- Gordon Griffin as Cyril
- Edward Wilson as Les
- Roger Avon as Joe the Landlord
- Ronald Lacey as Ernie
- Elizabeth Lax as Bob's Secretary
- Linda Robson as Marsha
- Ian McDiarmid as Vicar
- Eric Mason as Truck Driver
The Beehive pub was used in filming.The film was made at EMI's Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire and on location on Tyneside, in and around Newcastle and Whitley Bay. Locations used include the Spanish City funfair at Whitley Bay, the Beehive public house, the coast road flats, and Tynemouth pier.
- Terry's fictional employer "Extralight" washing powder, was filmed at Greggs Christon Road Dept, Gosforth
- Terry's highrise flat - Howdon, Wallsend (The flats used were demolished in the 1990s)
- The church where Thelma and Chris are abandoned - Corbridge, Northumberland
- The caravan trip takes place across Tyne Bridge and through Rothbury, Northumberland
- The caravan site and 'The Beehive' pub - Earsdon, near Whitley Bay
- Bob gets some flowers trapped in the bus after Terry does a "voice of above" on him at the Grainger Market (The area is now heavily pedestrianised since it was filmed)
- The coast - Whitley Bay
Like many film adaptations of British television shows of the 1970s, the film was poorly received at the time by the critics. However, in 2004 it received five stars in the Radio Times film guide, and also received good reviews in What's on TV. Terry's flat was at Taunton Close Willington Square Wallsend. Terry's works depot was filmed at the former George Angus site on the Coast Road Wallsend, it has since been demolished and B&Q now occupy the site