According to television everybody was getting a taste of the 'permissive society' in the 1970s, the decade that followed the liberating sixties with all its promise of free love and sexual liberation. Everybody, that is, except Geoffrey Bubbles Bon Bon and Beryl, his virginal (although slightly teasing) girlfriend who was determined to stay that way until her wedding night and would entertain no thoughts on what she termed 'Percy Filth'. 'Time Magazine' had previously noted that 'Sex has exploded into the national consciousness,' before going on to observe that 'Britain is being bombarded with a barrage of frankness about sex...' therefore The Lovers, created by master character craftsman Jack Rosenthal, hit the right note with both male and female viewers in its timely reflection of the teenage angst that had been largely dumped on young shoulders by all the media hype of what one should -and should not- have been getting at the time.
Newcomers Richard Beckinsale and Paula Wilcox starred as Mancunian's Geoffrey and Beryl respectively and it was Geoffrey, egged on by workmate Roland (Robin Nedwell of Doctor In The House fame), who continually tried to take his and Beryl's relationship to the next level. Needless to say, he failed miserably.
Rosenthal left his creation behind after the first season (there were only two) and Geoffrey Lancashire wrote the scripts thereafter, but Rosenthal returned to do the honours for the 1972 movie version (which came out at a time when it seemed that almost every 'Britcom' was being transferred to the silver screen).
For the young stars (she was 20, he 23) it was the beginning of successful television careers. Wilcox went on to star alongside Richard O'Sullivan and Sally Thomsett in the long running Man About The House, and Beckinsale in Rising Damp with Leonard Rossiter and Porridge with Ronnie Barker, although his career was cut tragically short by a fatal heart attack at the age of 31.
Rosethal's wife, Maureen Lipman appeared in one episode. Played with a delightfully observed air of charm and innocence by the all important central duo, and expertly produced by some of Granada Television's most talented personnel, The Lovers was a warm, witty and wonderfully knowing spin on the traditional "Boy meets Girl" storyline given an added layer of humour by its deftly subtle swipes at the myth of the free love generation.
Published on December 31st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus & SRH (16 May 2001) for Television Heaven.