Goodbye Mr Kent

Goodbye Mr. Kent

1982 - United Kingdom

Something of a rarity in the TV life of Richard Briers-an unsuccessful sitcom which came sandwiched between two successful ones, namely, The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles

In fact, Briers had almost decided to retire from TV sitcom at the end of The Good Life, when the scripts for Goodbye Mr Kent landed on his doorstep. "How on Earth was one going to follow that success?" he pondered in an issue of the Radio Times to reporter Madeleine Kingsley. But then quickly dismissed the idea of going completely straight by stating; "here was a strong situation comedy, with plenty of character scope, a series I felt would help me do the job I'm here for - making the public laugh through the long cold winter." 

The character that he saw so much potential in was Travis Kent, a dishevelled journalist who Briers freely admitted was "a sponging parasite, one of life's passengers who hopes to secure a free roof over his head." The roof in question belongs to attractive divorcee Victoria Jones (played by actress Hannah Gordon-no newcomer to TV sitcom herself), who is obliged to take in a lodger to help maintain herself and her racy teenage daughter, Lucy-played by Talla Hayes. Travis Kent sets out to impress the good Mrs Jones - "I cook a marvellous omelette...I can make a ping-pong ball appear out of my ear" and he smarms and charms his way to persuading the lady to accept him as her lodger, foregoing the chance to take in the "quiet female person" whom she so sensibly advertised for. 

The character of Travis Kent was based on another famous stage, movie and successful TV sitcom character as writers Peter Vincent and Peter Robinson admitted. Together, the duo had reworked the script of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple for German screening and it was from that movie that Travis was born, as Peter Vincent explained: "We were both struck by Oscar, the hopeless slob, fleshed out in the movie by Walter Matthau. We wanted to write about a similarly hopeless character who is also a great optimist, always certain that the next thing he touches will turn out right because the last blunder was definitely someone else's fault! Travis has great charm, or at least he thinks he does. Richard Briers now, really does have charm and he plays Travis with a wonderfully false sort of charm, vainly lavished on Victoria. She finds him not at all attractive, but oddly compelling. She misses him when he is not there, which makes life awkward for her." 

There was an underlying hint of a romance to come, but as the series never went beyond the first seven-episode run, this was never developed. But why would a woman fall for this type of wastrel? Richard Briers: "He must have something about him to save him from being exactly the sort of man who makes you send at once for the police. A vulnerable quality perhaps."  

Published on December 19th, 2018. Written by Based on original Radio Times article. Adapted for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

Butterflies TV series

Gently thoughtful, amusing and well observed eighties situation comedy series for the BBC about a seemingly ordinary, contented, middle class suburban housewife who suddenly find herself plunged into the middle of a disorienting, emotionally tumultuous, mid-life crisis.

Also tagged Britcom

The Goodies

The Goodies were the quintessential image of a 1970's Britain that had not yet shaken off its 1960's 'swinging' image.

Also released in 1982

An Actor's Life for Me

Robert Neilson (John Gordon-Sinclair) is an actor who dreams of being a star - alas, the best he has achieved so far is the face of Doberman Aftershave in a TV commercial...

Also tagged Britcom


Airing on the launch night of Channel 4 on 2 November 1982 Brookside changed the face of soap opera in England by tackling realistic and socially challenging storylines.

Also released in 1982

The Barchester Chronicles

Scandal taints the town of Barchester after the local church becomes the object of a scathing investigative report about the use of church funds.

Also released in 1982

Alias the Jester

Animated children's series about a time traveller who inadvertently arrives in medieval England at the court of King Arthur

Also tagged Richard Briers

Marriage Lines

Marital ups and downs of a newly-wed couple starring Richard Briers and Prunella Scales

Also tagged Richard Briers

The Good Life

The mere mention of this series name is likely to bring a very large smile to the faces of British sitcom fans, for The Good Life is one of the few series that is considered a true classic.

Also tagged Richard Briers


Ronnie Barker plays a short sighted delivery man who falls in love with a maid and moves to the country with her.

Also tagged Britcom