goodlife
Not the good life

ITV, a commercial TV station in the UK, just launched a new reality series about people going back to the land. Now it has axed the show from its Tuesday night line-up after a disasterous performance in the ratings.

The Real Good Life , lasted for two episodes instead of its planned three. The opening 60-minute show last week had 2.7 million (13%) with the audience falling by 400,000 to 2.3 million (12%) in its second outing in a 30-minute slot at 8pm. Next week it will be replaced by a repeat of It’ll Be Alright on the Night.

Like so much on ITV at the moment, it feels like this programme was first conceived in 1978, and then forgotten for years until it was found in an old box marked “stale ideas”.

“The Real Good Life” is a reference to a 1970s comedy about a middle class couple who gave up urban bliss for country hell. But the families in this series haven’t moved to the countryside; they’ve dug up their own back gardens in suburbia. And the ITV cameras are following them through four long, tough seasons, to see whether they achieve fulfilment and full stomachs.

The Smiths from Lincolnshire, the Attfields from Hertfordshire and the Aldridges from Berkshire gave up their jobs, renounced luxuries, cut up their credit cards, rotavated their gardens and…and, well, what? What are these modern-day Tom and Barbara Goods aiming for?

But nobody told ITV, or the production company Talkback, that things have changed since 1978. You can now live very cheaply and comfortably off the grid, if you have the right attitude and information. But not in suburbia.

The Good Life - Complete series on DVD - Buy it from Amazon UKThe Good Life – The complete series of the orignal comedy on DVD – Buy it from Amazon UK

Growing your own vegetables is one thing if you happen to live in remote countryside, where land is relatively cheap and plentiful, and the nearest shop is a 20-minute drive away. But people who live in urban communities are generally unsuited to coping with the pace of vegetable-growing.

A stupid idea, badly done.

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4 Responses to “The Real Good Life”

  1. oz_surf

    I agree, the little bit I saw was very badly done. Not really a stupid idea, just they should have screen tested and ensured teh families were all willing participants. All of them were pretty much unprepared for even trying to make a flower garden.
    I love the original 1970 show… can not believe it was that long ago someone actually though society had it all wrong…
    Other good shows on a similar thing… Frontier House (USA families tough it out) The Colony (Families try to make a go of it in Australia, and Outback House (Sheep station in Australia). These were done a bit better but nothing like really living it.

    Reply
  2. goodlife

    I think the attitudes of the families with children was expected as the mothers found themselves in the middle. Hard watching as it seemed abusive to the children having to give up and put up with everything.
    The only couple to have the correct attitude were the younger ones who from the start took the situation seriously. I loved particularly our eco friendly snail man, searching through the night to keep his precious crop safe.
    A good idea I thought but the opportunity was afforded to the wrong people, (try us, it’s our dream to move away grow a smallholding of veg and keep chickens), but have a big enough place to have the sideline of B&B, or a petting farm to bring in extra income. You could call it A COUNTRY DREAM.
    Please let us know the outcome, it’s not fair to keep us on a knife edge.

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  3. JennyB

    Absolutely right, stupid idea, badly done – and rather destructively off-putting to viewers wishing to become more eco-friendly. The experimental subjects were ill-prepared, ill-advised and uncommitted -the children were even press-ganged – thoroughly unsuited. No realistic information was broadcast about how to reduce your footprint and impact on the earth. As for giving up a £60,000 office job, to make an ignorant attempt to grow food… there are far more sensible and effective routes to a far better result. Still, dropping the final episode so we don’t know what happened, is possibly even more annoying! (I think we can guess, though…)

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  4. bobdoney

    No, the original 1970s sitcom “The Good Life” was indeed about a suburban couple who gave up their jobs, and dug up their garden. Repeats are still shown regularly on the BBC’s second channel and still attract big audiences.

    Reply

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