Tom Good’s political legacy

February 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm (comedy, good people, Green Party, Jim D, middle class, theatre, TV)

Richard Briers (who died today) was a wonderful farceur, light-comedy actor and occasional Shakespearian. He was also a definitive Bertie Wooster on the radio.

It’s almost a pity that he will forever be remembered for one particular role:

No question, of course, of which party the well-meaning, but deluded and self-righteous middle class prat Tom Good would have been founder-member.


  1. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said, has an aposite quote from Larry Elliot and Dan Atkinson’s much under-rated Age of Insecurity:

    The Good Life showed that even those who would have considered themselves to be part of the progressive wing of the bourgeoisie, the Guardian-reading supports of the Welfare State and redistribution, had lost faith in the ability of the Government to deliver. …

    The edge to The Good Life’s humour was provided by the contrast between Tom and Barbara and their next-door neighbours, Jerry and Margo, who remained committed to their traditional bourgeois values of class superiority, keeping up appearances, the quest for promotion, comfort, security.

    The sympathy of the viewer was intended to be with Tom and Barbara as they mucked out the pigs and milked the goats, but many would have instinctively felt for Jerry and Margo as their suburban lifestyle was squeezed between the nutcracker jaws of high inflation and militant trade unionism.

    Which fits in with their wider analysis of how much of what we fondly recall as vaguely leftish satire and drama from the 60s and 70s actually undermined not capitalism but social democracy.

    And if one can believe a Daily Mail interview (and I am not sure one ever can) from much later Briers himself despised Tom Good as a parasite whose elaborate lets pretend lifestyle was only possible by leeching off his bourgeois neighbours whenever a problem hit.

  2. Robin Carmody said,

    But this is where Briers’ role in the superb ‘If You See God, Tell Him’ comes in, a lacerating demolition of the entire Thatcher legacy which gains its strength from its stripping to the bare bones Briers’ persona – the cosiness Thatcher pretended to defend but actually threw to the winds – and exposing precisely what was left once the market decided everything. Once seen, never forgotten.

    And let us not forget the best Esmonde/Larbey series ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’, which says so much about the slow-burning madness of middle-English life – a world that is so sane that it’s insane – and manages to describe and dissect high-functioning autism before anyone had ever heard of it.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      For some reason I have no recollection of If You See God….and have just given up my lovefilm subscription – damn.

      • Robin Carmody said,

        Amazon (yeah, yeah, I know) have it for £4.99, should you be prepared.

  3. Minerva Strigiform said,

    Note Denham’s passing sneer.

    There is less than a cigarette paper’s difference between the Australian Labor Party and the ‘Liberal’ National Party (both very neo-liberal, both very racist – trying to out-nasty each other on the ‘Brown Peril’).

    One party is the plaything of rightwing unions (smash, burn, cutdown everything, as long as there are a couple of short term jobs to be had- and if those gays get married, the world will end next Tuesday). The other party is the plaything of big business (smash, burn, cut down everything as long as it pays megabucks in the short term).

    The Greens are noticably to the left of the ALP and their support is mainly made up of disaffected Labor-left and socialist voters (the ALP has official left and right factions). If the Labor left defected en masse to the Greens it would make life very interesting.

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