Belfast Telegraph

Rodney Bewes: The Likely Lad star who wowed millions

The actor starred as Bob Ferris in the BBC sitcom.

Rodney Bewes, who has died aged 79, was best known as one half of The Likely Lads.

The actor starred as Bob Ferris in the BBC sitcom alongside James Bolam’s character, Terry Collier.

The pair were cast as childhood friends in the innovative programme – one of the first to be set in the north east of England – which at its peak was watched by 27 million people.

Bob was the sensible one, doing his best to get on with his job and better himself, while Terry was the irresponsible one, intent on living life to the full and forever getting “the lads” into trouble of one kind or another.

But any notion the pair were best pals off-screen was shattered by the revelation of their spectacular fall-out in Bewes’s 2005 autobiography.

The bust-up, decades earlier, marked the beginning of a decline in his career, although he continued to act on stage and screen.

Born on November 27 1938 in Bingley, Yorkshire, he was confined to the house by asthma until the age of 12.

But two years later he secured his first professional role and eventually went to London to study drama at RADA.

Classic movies Heavens Above! and Billy Liar paved the way for his most famous role in The Likely Lads, written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.

The show was a huge success and the pair went on to pen three series, with a total of 20 episodes being broadcast between 1964 and 1966.

The BBC revived the hit comedy in 1973 with Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, which was soon named the Best Situation Comedy Programme of the Year.

The spin-off saw Terry return from a stint in the Army to try to find work in a North East that had changed dramatically, while Bob was busy trying to climb the social ladder into the world of the middle classes.

In 1976, a spin-off film, called The Likely Lads, was released, and follows the adventures of Bob, Terry and their partners on a camping weekend.

It would be the last time Bewes and Bolam would work together, with further incarnations of the programme ruled out due to a falling out between the pair.

Bewes, in his autobiography, attributed the final breakdown in their relationship to a row over a newspaper article and the feud apparently continued for decades.

In 2010, Bewes complained Bolam had refused to give his permission for The Likely Lads to be repeated on network television.

Bewes never regained the fame and success he enjoyed in the sitcom, with many of his later roles on stage, where he appeared in Three Men And A Boat, Funny Money and The Diary Of A Nobody.

His second wife Daphne died in 2015. He is survived by his four children, Billy, Joe, Tom, and Daisy, and two grandchildren Oscar and Eliza.

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