The Liver Birds, 1969
Starting life as a pilot episode in Comedy Playhouse in 1969, a full series soon followed. Running for ten years on it’s first run, with another series returning in 1996, The Liver Birds clocked up an incredible 86 episodes.
In an interview we did with her in 2014 Carla Lane told us the inspiration behind the show “I had a good friend, but we parted whilst still only very young, I was thinking about the fun and giggles we used to have and thought others might find the idea funny. From there it just seemed to come easily.”
The series charted the ups and downs of two “dolly birds” sharing a flat on Huskisson Street, on Merseyside. The series concentrated on the problems encountered by the two young single women when dealing with boyfriends, work, parents and each other
The pilot and Series 1 starred Dawn (Pauline Collins) and Beryl Hennessey (Polly James) From Series 2, Sandra Hutchinson (Nerys Hughes) replaced Dawn for the rest of the program’s run. The Beryl and Sandra pairing is generally regarded as the program’s heyday. Beryl was the more common one, while Sandra was soft-spoken and refined. This was mainly due to the influence of her snobbish and overbearing mother played by Mollie Sugden.
Carol Boswell (Elizabeth Estensen) replaced Beryl from Series 5 onwards. An attempt to revive the series in 1996 was not a ratings success and the series was laid to rest.
Polly James – Beryl (series 1-5)
Pauline Collins – Dawn (series 1 only)
Nerys Hughes – Sandra Hennessey (series 2 on)
Elizabeth Estensen – Carol Boswell (series 5 on)
Mollie Sugden – Mrs Hennessey (series 2 – on)
Created By: Carla Lane and Myra Taylor
Written By: Carla Lane and Myra Taylor, also credited are Lew Schwarz, Jack Sedden,David Pursall
Original Transmission Dates:
14th April 1969 – 29th December 1978
6th May – 24th June 1996
Both the pilot and 3 of the 4 episodes from series 1 are missing presumed wiped in their entirety, these comprise:
Pilot – The Liver Birds
Aristocracy and Crime
Torremolinos, Costa del Sol or Southport?
A short five minute episode was produced for Christmas Night with the Stars in 1972.
In April 2017 it was announced that before her death Carla Lane had given her blessing to a new musical based on the hit comedy.
The concert presentation entitled Liver Birds Flying Home, was on May 30th and featured a West End cast performing all-new songs and lyrics by internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Barb Jungr and Level 42’s Mike Lindup.
The script, inspired by Carla Lane and Myra Taylor’s original TV series, has been written by BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Linda McDermott.
Performed at the Epstein Theatre on May 30th 2017 the new story sees two of the “Liver Birds”, Sandra and Beryl, meet at their old flat in present-day Liverpool for the first time since the 1970s, when Sandra abruptly left with no forwarding address.
Can their friendship be rekindled after this long separation, and what happens when the Liver Birds come back together after 40 years?
We are lead to believe that this classic may well be flying back to our screens for a repeat showing, although no firm details have yet been announced.