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28 October 2014

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The Liver Birds

Beryl (Polly James) and Sandra (Nerys Hughes)

The Liver Birds began life as a Comedy Playhouse pilot. Created by friends Carla Lane and Myra Taylor (who'd met at a writers' workshop), the show - their first contribution to television - was very much based on their own lives in Liverpool.

With the BBC keen to develop the production into a series, the duo were assigned experienced writer Len Schwarz as a mentor during the early years, with Eric Idle on script-editing duties.

Sandra and Beryl

The first series followed the exploits of Dawn and Beryl sharing a flat on Liverpool's Huskisson Street. With women beginning to enjoy new freedoms at the start of the 1970s, the show followed the friends as they hit the dating scene, partied and generally tried to improve their lot in life.

After the first run, Pauline Collins left, to be replaced by Nerys Hughes as Sandra. It was here The Liver Birds' golden era dawned - the newcomer proving to be a refined foil to the outgoing Beryl.

Sandra and Carol

More change followed at the end of series four. With Polly James now deciding to move on, Beryl was married off, and in came scatty Carol. She brought with her an extended family - the Boswells.

Clearly the inspiration for Lane's 1980s series Bread, this incarnation of the clan included rabbit-loving brother Lucien and God-fearing parents.

The series came to a conclusion 1979, but that wasn't the end of the story.

In 1996, The Liver Birds return for a seven-part, continuity-mangling reprise.  Set 20 years on, the show's golden pairing of Sandra and Beryl were back together again, contemplating life after divorce. Lucien was now Beryl's sibling, while Carmel McSharry played her mother, Mrs Hennessy.


Polly James
Beryl Hennessey
Pauline Collins
Nerys Hughes
Sandra Hutchinson
Elizabeth Estensen
Carol Boswell
Mollie Sugden
Mrs Hutchinson
Ivan Beavis
Mr Hutchinson, John McKelvey, William Moore
Sheila Fay
Mrs Hennessey, Carmel McSharry
Cyril Shaps
Mr Hennessey
George Leyton
Mike Lucas
John Nettles
Jonathan Lynn
Eileen Kennally
Mrs Boswell, Carmel McSharry
Ray Dunbobbin
Mr Boswell
Michael Angelis
Tom Chadbon
Derek Paynton


Carla Lane
Myra Taylor
Lew Schwarz
Jack Seddon
David Pursall
Eric Idle
script editor
Ray Butt
Douglas Argent
Angela deChastelai Smith
Sydney Lotterby
Douglas Argent
Roger Race
Philip Kampff

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