Richard Pryor in The Good Life - Mustard comedy magazine
Richard Pryor in The Good Life

Great Casting Mistakes in History

Richard Pryor in The Good Life

A misheard request during the casting for the pilot of The Good Life led to troubled American comedian Richard Pryor appearing instead of the similarly-monikered Richard Briers.

The footage of the previously unseen pilot episode, released from the BBC archives following the 30-year embargo, shows a radically different show from the one that was to become a much-loved stalwart of the schedules.

In what starts out as a familiar scenario, social-climbing neighbours Margo and Jerry attempt to court Jerry's boss with a fancy meal when Barbara (Felicity Kendal) and husband Tom (Pryor) gatecrash the event.

But where Briers' Tom would have embarrassed the couple by arriving in mud-splattered overalls and clutching a bunch of home-grown carrots, Pryor crashes through the French windows aflame, screaming that he'd had a blowback whilst freebasing and imploring the "mo-fo honky bitches" to throw the casserole over his "burning black ass" before he expires.

Felicity Kendal's raised eyebrow and long-suffering refrain of 'Oh Tom!' seem out of place in the resulting tone.

However, this version of the pilot was never shown: management discovered their mistake and paid Pryor off.

He then returned to the US, where he was shocked to find a confused Richard Briers starring opposite Gene Wilder in Silver Streak.

~ A.M.


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