James Bolam on Likely Lads co-star Rodney Bewes: 'I just remember him with great warmth'

Likely Lads actor Rodney Bewes with James Bolam

James Bolam denies feud with Rodney Bewes

James Bolam has said he simply remembered his time with Rodney Bewes on The Likely Lads with "great warmth" and denied a feud existed with his co-star, who died on Tuesday at the age of 79.

James played lovable sponger Terry Collier opposite Rodney’s Bob Ferris in the 1960s BBC sitcom and its 1970s sequel but the pair did not speak for decades afterwards.

This was down to busy schedules rather than any resentment, the actor said.

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He told BBC Radio Sussex: “There was no fall-out at all, as far as I was concerned.

“We worked together very happily and very well, enjoyed each other’s company and when we finished, we finished.

“This is what happens in acting. You work with people, you get to know them, you like them, we have a great time and the job finishes and you go off and it all starts again with other people and you can’t keep contact with everybody that you know.

“I think that Rodney wanted to do some more Likely Lads and I never did, I felt that what we had done was to me so perfect and so right that to try and bring it back…

“After we finished it the writers went on to do Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and then they went off to America and the success of that series lay in the strength of those scripts.

“There was some suggestion that we had other writers come in and I just thought ‘well, I don’t think it will work’ and so I didn’t want to do it, I was busy doing other things.”

James said he had nothing but fond memories of Rodney, adding: “I just remember him with great warmth and with great happiness and the time we had when we actually did the shows, that’s the greatest memory of all.”

He added the death had hit him hard because it follows so soon after the death of Duty Free star Keith Barron last week.

Keith Barron death

Keith Barron has died aged 83 (Rebecca Naden/PA)


He said: “It’s been quite a depressing week for me because another actor that I worked with a lot, Keith Barron, died as well recently and I’ve been thinking ‘Oh god, they’re all going’ and it is a bit depressing.

“All one thinks at a time like this is their families and my thoughts are with them and my sympathies and I just wish them well.”

Rodney’s death was confirmed on Tuesday by his agent Michelle Braidman, who described him as a “true one-off”. Tributes came in from stars including Ant and Dec, who worked with Rodney during a remake of The Likely Lads in the Noughties.

The duo wrote on Twitter: “We are very sad to hear of the passing of Rodney Bewes, a fine comic actor who we had the honour of meeting and working with. He will live on through Bob Ferris and the brilliant Likely Lads. RIP.”

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

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