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Birds of a Feather
It's proved to be very rare for a British sitcom to place at its heart the (mis)adventures of a group of female lead characters.
With Birds of a Feather, writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran not only bucked the trend but found a formula to create a much-loved ratings smash.
The premise saw two sisters: Sharon and Tracey Stubbs, who've been living very different lives with very different experiences of marriage, suddenly brought together when both their spouses are convicted of armed robbery.
For hard-up Sharon her husband Chris's crime comes as no surprise but Tracey, who'd been living a nouveau-riche dream life in Chigwell, is shell-shocked to find her beloved Darryl could be a criminal.
Together the sisters must get used to their enforced new circumstances and Sharon moves in with richer Tracey, both to keep her company and enjoy the mod cons of her plush home.
They're rarely left alone, though, thanks to the nagging presence of sex-mad neighbour Dorien Green.
Actors Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson, who were cast as Sharon and Tracey respectively, had been friends since childhood and trained at theatre school together.
Having already appeared in previous Marks and Gran sitcom Shine on Harvey Moon, they made the roles of the Stubbs sisters their own and their chemistry and shared sense of timing made the show a joy to watch.
While the culture clash between Sharon and Tracey sparked much of the humour, undoubtedly the icing on the cake was delivered by Lesley Joseph as serial adulterer Dorien and her portrayal of this insatiable man-eater often stole scenes and even entire episodes.
While early series kept close to the plotline of the husbands’ incarceration, the scripts became increasingly ambitious, including a 1993 Christmas special set in Hollywood.
A massive hit from the word go in 1989, Birds of a Feather eventually clocked up nine seasons and remains not only a classic comedy but also, as a female-centred long-running series, a truly rare gem.
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