BEING asked to bring characters from one of the most popular TV comedies to the stage for the first time was a challenge that Rufus Hound could not resist.

“You don’t really have to ask ‘What drew you to The Good Life?’ because it exists in British culture as one of the gold standard all-time greats,” said Rufus who plays Tom - originally portrayed by Richard Briers - in a new version of the show which comes to The Lowry next week.

“It had phenomenal comedy writing that really was state-of-the-nation whilst underlying all of it is was heart and warmth and care for people who may not agree with us but are still our neighbours and thus we have to get on. In 2021 that story feels like it’s unbelievably pertinent,” he said.

The Good Life is based around two couple, Tom and Barbara Good who opt out of the rat race much to the horror of their snobby neighbour Margo Leadbetter and her henpecked husband Jerry. At the height of its popularity the show was attracting around 16 million TV views each week.

Rufus admits it’s daunting taking on a character as revered as Tom but, having appeared in One Man, Two Guvnors after James Corden and following in Steve Martin’s footsteps in the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels musical, he’s no stranger to reinterpreting roles.

”Of course it’s daunting but if you think about how daunting it is you’d never get started.” he said. “Fortunately, as long as the show is good and you’re committed to telling the story, audiences quite quickly park what they remember it being previously and hopefully get swept up and bowled over by what’s happening in front of them.”

The Good Life also starred Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington.

“Watching those brilliant actors who had all gone through theatre bring the deftness, the quality, delivery, timing, all of those things to the fore is sublime,” said Rufus after watching the original series back again.

Jeremy Sams was the man tasked with adapting the 70s sitcom for the stage and he believes it will resonant strongly with a modern audience.

At the start of the TV series, fed-up 40-year-old Tom quit his job as a draughtsman.

“The idea of being your own boss is unbelievably current now,” said Jeremy, “that and the concept of working from home. Even if they aren’t quitting, people are saying ‘No, I’m not going to commute, make that journey and kill the planet, I’m going to spend more time in my house and my garden, if I’m lucky enough to have one’. What surprises me is just how timely this story is.”

Jeremy promises that fans of the show won’t be disappointed.

“It’s a homage to the characters as well as an old-fashioned comedy,” he said. “It captures the spirit of the TV show whilst inventively rejigging the story.

“Good Life fanatics will spot references here and there but it’s not a museum piece. A lot of it is my own invention, although there are some things you have to feature - like a snooty Margo, for example.”

Asked why he thinks people are still so fond of these characters after more than four decades Jeremy said: “I think it’s because they’re nice. When I started writing it I thought ‘Are these the classic nightmare neighbours you get next door, like the ones you often see on Channel 5 docuseries?’ But they’re actually really nice people who like and want the best for each other. They just differ. They all have a vested interest in the quality of life, they just have differing views as to what quality means.”

The Good Life, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday, October 26 to Saturday, October 30. Details from