Gems Rediscovered: The Likely Lads

January 18, 2019

A most unlikely discovery…

In the chocolate box of life, the top layer may have already gone (as Bob memorably bemoans in a scene from the 1976 film of The Likely Lads), but at Network, we’ve discovered a secret stash of orange creme… in the form of two episodes, thought lost for decades, now returned to their rightful place in the canon of this much-loved situation comedy.

A Star is Born and Faraway Places haven’t been seen since they were last broadcast by the BBC in 1967. Originally transmitted as part of the second series in 1965, the episodes were shown three times in all, before dropping out of sight. Now, two 16mm telerecordings have surfaced, and we’re immensely pleased and proud to report that they will both be included as special features on Network’s forthcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of the 1976 movie The Likely Lads.

The film itself has been newly remastered from the original negatives and has never looked or sounded better. The two episodes have also been transferred in High Definition, to get the best possible quality from these rare film prints. To borrow some sales patter from Extralite washing powder salesman Terry Collier: ‘into the light… shining bright… up your nose, fresh as a rose’.

A Star is Born sees Bob and Terry making a bid for stardom… on a very small scale. Can you imagine Terry as Donovan, playing frying-pan banjo? Or Bob reciting The Lion and Albert?

Faraway Places has the lads making plans for their summer holiday… but the need to earn extra cash sends them to the labour exchange in search of daytime work while they’re on nights at the factory…

The discovery of any lost television series is an event to be celebrated… so we’re making an event of it, with a public screening of the film and episodes, plus a very special guest Q&A with series writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Watch this space for further announcements.

The Likely Lads is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD now.

Martin Cater


  1. Christian Swain Reply

    Megabrill Network chums xx already got it preordered. Is the discovery a Phillip Morris job? Xxx

  2. Lee Reply

    “The film itself has been newly remastered from the original negatives … to get the best possible quality from these rare film prints.”

    Make up your mind, negatives or prints? It can’t be both at once!!! The film cans say “positive” so I’m guessing the latter.

  3. Kenneth Henderson Reply

    Great to see features and lost TV episodes are still being found and then made available. How many still remain deteriorating in attics, basement or garages, or, even storage cages waiting to be found and restored to view? We might never know but I will be getting this Blu Ray.
    One point, though, a rare UK early 1930s Gracie Fields film, This year of Grace(also a stage show) was found in recent years but it does appear to have been made available yet. There is a lousy quality trailer out there to view(lucky to see any pre-1950s UK film trailers and when you do they are very poor quality, in one case a sloppy one found in Australia of a 1940s film was repatriated. Always hopeful.
    I was watching(Fri Jan 18 2019) a DVD of a BBC concert celebrating the music from MGM films with a large orchestra, singers and a couple of presenters. Early on the woman presenter made mention of the BBC policy of wiping so many early great TV series.

  4. Quadmaster Reply

    I shall naturally be down converting to 405/25i for viewing on vintage TV’s 📺 . 🤪🧐

  5. Ben Robinson Reply

    Wow, this is so so awesome, can’t wait to see these 2 episodes. Greatwork Network. Really want to go to the Q&A too, any more details on this?

  6. Gary Reply

    Wonderful. You can trace the development of James Bolam’s acting from his very broad comedy of the 1960s series to the less broad but still too loud 1st season of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKELY L;ADS until he got the perfect pitch in the 2nd season of the 1970s series and in the film.
    Rodney Bewes was closer to the right pitch from the very beginning, aye, yet the contrast between Bewes’s stab at refinement and his mate’s rough and ready roots made the dynamic spark though but.
    That’s not a bad Bolam impersonation of Dylan in that clip. Which is to say, Donovan by the side entrance.
    I will take a canny guess that James Bolam wants nothing to do with contributing to the Extras of Network’s coming release. I wonder if his reticence about The Likely Lads all these years is because he’s self-conscious now of how overbaked his earlier performances were? Mind you, I wouldn’t be the one to ask him that, though but.

  7. Dave L Reply

    Glad to see you have found two missing episodes of The Likely Lads, to add as extras along with the film on your new release, which was due to be released on the 28th Jan 19, now can you give a good reason why three days before it’s release, it is now delayed until the 18th March.
    I hope this isn’t due to releasing those old awful B movies instead, your TV comedy releases over the last couple of years have been in very small numbers, sadly it seems instead of releasing a wide range of series Drama, Comedy etc… like you did in years gone by, you seem to focus more on one release at a time, it was due to your email newsletter that is why I ordered it for a Birthday present in mid February, why sent out this email newsletter, if you are going to change the date of it’s release @Network Distributing.😡😡😡😢😢☹️

    Very disappointed

  8. Dan O'Neill Reply

    Not all lost gems are hiding in Attics and garden sheds. Some are hiding in plain sight.
    How about releasing ‘People Like us’ a great series based on ‘The Avenue’ books by Delderfield. Made by LWT in 1977? It’s only been screened once in 78 and all the episodes are still present in the archive.

  9. John Barber Reply

    I was in the credited band The Coordinates, in this episode. We recorded and mimed to the Rolling Stones hit “The Last Time” The Coodinates were me, John Barber & Ivor Knight (The Scorpions) and Billy Kuy & Reg Hawkins (The Outlaws). I am very pleased to see that this episode was not lost forever.

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