|Birds of a Feather|
|Created by||Laurence Marks|
|Directed by||Nick Wood|
|Theme music composer||Irving Berlin|
|Opening theme||"What'll I Do" performed by Linda Robson & Pauline Quirke|
|Ending theme||"What'll I Do?"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||12|
|No. of episodes||128|
|Camera setup||Video (1989-98) |
Multiple-camera setup (2014-17)
|Running time||30-75 minutes (1989-98)|
22-45 minutes (2014-17)
|Production||Alomo Productions (1989-98)|
Hare and Tortoise / Quirkymedia Stuff (2014-17)
|Original network||BBC One (1989-98)|
|Picture format||576i (4:3) (1989-98) |
1080i (16:9) (2014-17)
|Original release||Original series:|
16 October 1989 -
24 December 1998
2 January 2014-18 December 2017
Birds of a Feather (commonly abbreviated to BOAF) is a British sitcom originally broadcast on BBC 1 from 16 October 1989 to 24 December 1998, then revived on ITV from 2 January 2014 to 18 December 2017 Starring Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph, it was created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who also wrote some of the episodes along with many other writers.
In the first episode, sisters Tracey Stubbs (Linda Robson) and Sharon Theodopolopodous (Pauline Quirke) are brought together when their husbands are sent to prison for armed robbery. Sharon, who lived in an Edmonton council flat, moves into Tracey's upmarket house in Chigwell, Essex. Their next-door neighbour and later friend, Dorien Green (Lesley Joseph), is a middle-aged married Jewish woman who is constantly having affairs with younger men. In the last two BBC series, the location is changed to nearby Hainault, Essex before returning to Chigwell in series 10 (the first aired on ITV).
The series' original run ended on Christmas Eve 1998 after nine years, but returned just over 15 years later, on 2 January 2014, this time on ITV rather the BBC's main channel, for its tenth series overall, running for eight episodes. The opening episode of the new series attracted almost eight million viewers, giving ITV its highest-rated comedy since Barbara in 2000. In 2015, there was an eleventh series (the second series on ITV) aired from December 2014 - January 2015. A twelfth series (the third on ITV) aired in 2016. A Christmas special was filmed in Malta, and aired on Christmas Eve 2016. Another Christmas special aired on 18 December 2017. A thirteenth series (the fourth on ITV) has been commissioned but it is uncertain when or if this will happen.
For Cockney sisters Sharon Theodopolopodous and Tracey Stubbs, life is never the same again when their husbands are convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison. Sharon, a common, fun-loving, large and loud-mouthed character from a council flat in Edmonton, moves into her sister's luxury home in Chigwell, so that she can support Tracey, after her husbands imprisonment.
Sharon has always felt inadequate next to her slimmer, elder sister Tracey and felt she had the tougher childhood. Her marriage to Chris, a waster of Greek Cypriot descent, was miserable and childless, supposedly due to Sharon's infertility. Chris's family condemn her for this but Sharon discovers that Chris is actually the infertile one. Sharon happily cheats on Chris and gives him grief when visiting. Despite this, she becomes bitterly envious whenever he has another woman and only ever makes half-hearted attempts to divorce him until the new 2014 series, in which Chris finally demands a divorce from Sharon so he can marry again. Tracey, however, loves her husband, Darryl. His legitimate business was building conservatories but he made most of his money by robbing banks. Unlike Sharon, who is more realistic about their husbands, Tracey deludes herself into believing her husband is innocent, especially in the Christmas special "The Chigwell Connection" and when Darryl is finally released in series 7, she trusts him when he asks for a cheque on the company account, which leads to Darryl defrauding her out of her business assets. He and Tracey have a son, Garth, who becomes a chef after going to boarding school and eventually marries Kimberley. This marriage does not last: in series 10, Garth has moved to Australia and started a relationship with a girl named Marcie. Tracey is the more honest and law-abiding of the two sisters, whereas Sharon is more willing to indulge in unscrupulous and often criminal activities, such as illegally subletting her council flat when she was living with Tracey, taking drugs, selling stolen merchandise, fiddling her VAT and claiming unemployment benefit while she was actually employed.
The sisters' neighbour is the wealthy, snobbish, man-eating Dorien Green, a middle-aged woman who strives to create the impression that she is a glamorous beauty, dressing in a sexually provocative style, preferring mini-skirts, high heels and leopard print. She is played by Lesley Joseph. Dorien is married to Marcus, but is frequently involved with other men, with hilarious consequences. Dorien and Marcus are Jewish. Her marriage is also childless, due to her vanity and the lack of affection between her and Marcus. She is a regular, if uninvited, guest at Tracey's house and mocks Sharon about her weight whilst Sharon teases Dorien about her lifestyle and age. However, Sharon and Tracey become the best friends Dorien has ever had and the mutual teasing is friendly and playful and it is often shown that Sharon and Tracey care for Dorien and vice versa. If any of them get into trouble or have a problem, the others are often the first to help, regardless of the consequences.
Although Dorien had several flings with younger men, Luke Horton was her most frequent lover and she appeared to genuinely love him, from the first series until he left Dorien for a younger woman in the second series. He later appeared in the eighth series when it is revealed that he has married and settled down. Dorien's nemesis is the acid-tongued Melanie Fishman, a vindictive gossip who Dorien constantly attempts to outdo. Marcus eventually tires of Dorien's selfishness and leaves her to begin a new life with his mistress and their children. Dorien later starts a loving relationship with Richard Summers, which is initially strained due to Richard's teenage children taking an instant dislike to Dorien, which she gladly reciprocates.
There is some uncertainty about Dorien's maiden name. She says that her father's name was Arthur Friedman but a wedding invitation to Sharon and Tracey, reveals her mother's name to be Estelle Kapper. Later, Dorien refers to her maiden name as Kapper and an old flame also remembers her as Dorien Kapper. She grew up in Burnt Oak in the London Borough of Barnet. Dorien has several times claimed to be a graduate but never specified which university she attended and when. Throughout the series, Dorien toys with novel writing but is unpublished, until 2014 in which she is an established author. Dorien's mother appears on screen once but is often mentioned as an icy, domineering woman and the two clearly have a stormy relationship. Dorien also has a brother named Jeffrey, who she believes to be their mother's favourite, as he lives a modest life in a semi-detached house and unlike Dorien, has given their mother grandchildren. In series 11, it is revealed that when she was seventeen in 1965, Dorien had a fling with a man named Lionel and they had a daughter, Naomi, who was raised by Lionel. They reunite fifty years later where Dorien learns that Naomi is a vicar, yet she has inherited Dorien's appearance and fondness for risqué behaviour.
In the final episode of series 12, which was broadcast on 25 February 2016, Dorien celebrated her seventieth birthday. This episode was filmed on 14 October 2015, Joseph's actual 70th birthday.
In the series 7 episode, "Cheers", Darryl and Chris are released from prison and are determined to start afresh. Chris feels remorse for his crimes and not treating Sharon better during their marriage. He impresses Sharon by getting an honest job as a pizza delivery man. Darryl, however, feels that the only way to give Tracey the lifestyle he feels she deserves is to return to crime. He attempts to launder counterfeit money into Sharon and Tracey's swimming pool business but is caught and imprisoned again (at HMP Slade, an in-joke reference to Porridge) - along with an innocent Chris, much to Sharon's dismay. Darryl and Tracey's marriage is severely strained by this and Tracey contemplates leaving Darryl, but decides not to but tells him that she will not be waiting for him, like she did when he was imprisoned before. In series 9, Tracey discovers she is pregnant and panics that Darryl may not be the father until she learns the other man had a vasectomy. When Tracey gives birth to her second child, Travis, Sharon vows to stand by her sister and raise the child together.
In the tenth series it is revealed that Tracey and Darryl have divorced and that Darryl moved to Wales on his release from prison. Tracey has remarried and is back living in her former marital home, "Dalentrace", in Chigwell, kicking Sharon out due to her dislike of Tracey's second husband, Ralph. At the start of the series, Sharon is back in her council flat and the two have not spoken for over six months when they "bump into each other" at a book signing. They are shocked to discover that the author of "Sixty Shades of Green" (a Fifty Shades of Grey clone) is their old friend Dorien. When Tracey offers Sharon a lift home, she confesses that she has thrown Ralph out after catching him stealing from her. Lonely, she persuades Sharon to move back in with her. Travis feigns annoyance that Sharon is back, but it is then revealed that he set up their "chance" meeting at the book signing.
As the three plan how their new set-up will work, Dorien arrives unexpectedly, after learning that she is being sued for plagiarising Fifty Shades of Grey. With all her assets frozen, she has no choice but to beg Tracey for a place to stay. Just as everyone is speculating how they will all fit into the house, Garth arrives with new girlfriend Marcie and her daughter, Poppy. By the end of the series Garth, Marcie and Poppy have moved out, with the couple opening a pop-up restaurant and the case against Dorien collapsed, due to a tabloid exposé about an MP she once dated - which proves the stories in her book were true. However, after initially planning to return to her former home in Hollywood, Dorien realises that Sharon and Tracey are her true friends and opts to stay with them.
In series 11, Garth comes home, having separated from Marcie. Dorien's past comes back to haunt her when, amongst her fan mail, she finds a letter from the daughter she gave up for adoption. Dorien eventually agrees to meet Naomi (Frances Ruffelle), who she is stunned to discover is a vicar with two grown-up children. Meanwhile, Tracey is faced with health concerns when she discovers a large mole on her shoulder is malignant.
In series 12, the police tell Tracey that Darryl died in an attempted robbery and that Garth is next of kin[clarification needed]. The funeral is attended by Tracey, Sharon, Dorien, Garth, Travis and many of Darryl's gangster friends. Dorien is also revealed to have a granddaughter named Emma (Naomi's daughter), who briefly moved into the Stubbs house. And now a very early Darryl and Chris are set to make a come back in a film only played by other actors for charity[clarification needed]
In the original series, most of the interior scenes were shot at Teddington Studios. The exterior filming location for 'Dalentrace' was in the Gerrards Cross area in Buckinghamshire. Streets in the North West London suburb of Pinner frequently doubled for Chigwell, the series setting. In the original series, the prison exteriors were filmed at HM Prison Maidstone.
For the 2014 revived series, interior scenes were recorded in Studio 2 at The London Studios. Filming took place in front of an audience between 28 September and 24 November 2013. The show moved to Pinewood Studios for the second revived series of the show. Filming for this series took place in front of an audience between 8 October and 26 November 2014. The show returned in January 2016 and was recorded at Pinewood Studios from 2 September until 21 October 2015, again in front of a live audience in the studio.
On 3 March 2009, the Daily Mirror reported that the classic sitcom was set for a return and that Lesley Joseph, Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson had all been asked to make another series. Quirke was reported as saying that her acting school "Quirky Kidz" was really beginning to take off, so she would be hesitant about becoming involved in another creative project. After this speculation in 2009 nothing more was said. However, in July 2012 Joseph hinted that Birds of a Feather could return for another series following a successful stage tour.
In March 2013, Quirke appeared on ITV's This Morning and confirmed that a script for a new series was "on the desk at the BBC" and they were just waiting for a decision on whether or not the BBC would commission a new series. The BBC offered to broadcast a one-off special episode, but this was refused by the producers of the show in favour of ITV's offer of a series. Fifteen years after the original series ended, the original cast returned, this time on ITV.
Robson confirmed on her Twitter account that filming began on 16 September 2013, with eight new episodes broadcasting from 2 January 2014. It was also confirmed that all characters would return, including Tracey's new child, who was born in the last episode. Matt Willis replaced Matthew Savage in the part of Garth (Garfie), making him the third actor to play the character; Willis was later replaced by Samuel James in 2015. Two new characters were introduced in the tenth series including Garth's new girlfriend Marcie, who did not appear in the 2015 series. The first episode had mainly positive reviews, with fans saying the show had stayed true to itself. Quirke said that the cast returned with the intention of doing only one series, but she would not rule out doing further episodes if the scripts were right and the fans and viewers wanted more of the series. The opening episode attracted nearly eight million viewers, giving ITV its highest rated comedy since Barbara in 2000. On 16 January, Robson, Quirke and Joseph appeared on Loose Women to take over for one special episode to celebrate the series return and the ratings success. Robson has been a regular panellist on Loose Women since 2012.
In March 2014, ITV announced that a second series of eight episodes would be produced. In August 2014, Robson confirmed that filming would start on 7 September 2014 and continue until November and the series would be broadcast in January 2015. In November 2014, Robson confirmed that Willis would not return due to his commitments with McBusted. The role of Garth Stubbs was taken over by former EastEnders actor Samuel James. The series began airing on 26 December 2014, with a Christmas special and continued the following week (1 January 2015).
On 12 March 2015, ITV announced that a third series (the twelfth overall) was to be filmed later in the year. The series aired in January and February 2016. On 13 July 2016, ITV announced that Birds of a Feather would return to the channel for a 45-minute Christmas special, that was filmed in Malta. The episode aired on 24 December 2016.
Another Christmas special aired on 18 December 2017. Series 13 (the fourth on ITV) had been ordered, and in June 2018 Lesley Joseph revealed that ITV were discussing plans for another series in October 2019 to mark the shows 30th anniversary. It is uncertain as to when the series will continue as Joseph announced it will not be happening any time soon. Joseph said she did not wish to do it owing to other work commitments. Confusion occurred in February 2019 when Nigel Lythgoe seemed to suggest the series had ended. However an ITV representative later confirmed this story was false and both Birds of A Feather and Bad Move had not been 'axed'. 
Episode count is as of December 2017.
|Pauline Quirke||Sharon Theodopol-
|Linda Robson||Tracey Stubbs||1989-98, 2014-17||128|
|Lesley Joseph||Dorien Green||1989-98, 2014-17||128|
|Charlie Quirke||Travis Stubbs||2014-17||26|
|Samuel James||Garth Stubbs||2014-17||14|
|David Cardy||Chris Theodopol-
|1989, 1997-98, 2014||10|
|Alun Lewis||Darryl Stubbs||1989-94||50|
|Simon Nash||Garth Stubbs||1989||1|
|Nickolas Grace||Marcus Green||1989, 1993, 1997||3|
|Vivian Pickles||Aunt Sylvie||1990-92||2|
|Camilla Marie Beeput||Marcie||2014||6|
Note: The 1996 episode "The Chigwell Years" included clips from previous episodes. Alun Lewis, Peter Polycarpou
and David Cardy all featured in the archive footage but did not appear in any original scenes.
Birds of a Feather first aired in 1989 and has so far run for 124 episodes consisting of 12 series. 103 episodes are thirty minutes in length, while one is forty minutes, four are 50 minutes, one is 60 minutes and one is 75 minutes.
Most episodes were written by Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran, Gary Lawson & John Phelps, Geoff Rowley, Sue Teddem, Peter Tilbury, Geoff Deane, Tony Millan & Mike Walling, Damon Rochefort and Sam Lawrence. Keith Lindsay & Martin Tomms, Steve Coombes & Dave Robinson, George Costigan & Julia North, John Ross, Frankie Bailey, Miles Tredinnick, Jenny Lecoat, Alun Lewis, Richard Preddy & Gary Howe and Ian Davidson & Peter Vincent & Tony Jordan all wrote one episode each.
The theme tune was Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do?". Initially the version recorded by actor William Atherton for the 1974 film The Great Gatsby was used; from the third series onwards is sung by Quirke and Robson.
During the opening theme for series 1, Quirke and Robson were seen both dressed in a white shirt and a black skirt and they walked towards to screen through several spotlights. Once they reached the screen it faded to Quirke and Robson sat back to back as they rotated. The ending theme was an extended version sung by Quirke and Robson together. And it showed Quirke and Robson walking to the screen and back, passing through the spot lights, while the credits rolled on the left of the screen.
Series 2 featured the same music as series 1 but introduced the new opening which featured pictures of characters Sharon and Tracey as they grow up.
For the picture transition, the pictures faded. The last picture remained until the entire screen faded into the episode.
For the closing theme, A video was of the child actors that are supposed to be a young Sharon and Tracey, in the second picture of the opening theme, out in a park eating ice creams with their teddies, chasing each other, Tracey trying to get Sharon to play, Sharon jumping down some steps, Tracey looking through a railing to a pond and it ends with Sharon and Tracey waving bye and running away from the screen together.
Series 3 introduced a revised version of the song which was performed by Quirke and Robson. In the opening theme, Robson sang the first verse and Quirke sang the last; this was the opposite way round in the closing theme. It used the same video as the series 2 opening and closing theme.
The episode closing theme was an extended version of the song. Quirke and Robson sang separate verses before singing the last line together: "That won't come true, what'll I do?".
A new arrangement of the theme by Dave Arch accompanies a new title sequence using a number of the images used in the previous series titles as well as a current image of the sisters and Dorien - now styled to be pictures in frames, slides and images through a camera's view screen. The video sequence from the original closing credits now appears in the opening sequence alongside a clip from an old episode made to look like a home video recording. More of the old end credits video appears as the programme moves in and out of the commercial break. It was confirmed prior to broadcast in an online interview with Whatsontv that the opening titles have been slightly updated with new images and with Joseph now singing in the opening titles alongside Quirke and Robson.
Birds of a Feather was sold to more than 30 countries worldwide and the format was sold to countries including Australia (ABC TV), New Zealand, Spain and South Africa. The show is regularly re-run on Australian & New Zealand pay TV.
An American adaptation, called Stand by Your Man was made by Fox. Rosie O'Donnell played hard-up Lorraine Popowski, while Melissa Gilbert-Brinkman played her rich sister Rochelle Dunphy. Sam McMurray played Rochelle's husband Roger and Rick Hall played Lorraine's husband Artie. The Dorien character was called Adrienne Stone played by Miriam Flynn. The series was broadcast for only eight episodes from 5 April to 9 August 1992.
On 8 July 2010, Linda Robson confirmed on This Morning that a script has been written for a stage show, which all three actresses are keen to be involved with, but this would depend on the availability of Pauline Quirke, who had just been contracted to Emmerdale for six months. Quirke announced on 16 May 2011 that she would be leaving Emmerdale at Christmas 2011 and that a touring version of Birds of a Feather would start in spring 2012.
Birds of a Feather has been adapted for stage by The Comedy Theatre Company, producers of previous dinnerladies and Keeping Up Appearances UK stage tours. The 2012 Birds of a Feather UK tour includes the original three leading actresses. Quirke and Robson's real-life sons, Charlie Quirke and Louis Dunford, share the role of Travis Stubbs, the son born to Tracey in the final episode of the TV series.
On 27 July 2000, Two audio books were released featuring 8 classic shows from the first 2 series. The shows included were "Nicked", "Just Visiting", "Shift", "Women's Trouble", "Getting a Grip", "Sweet Smell of Success", "Young Guns" and "Muesli".
While the series was airing on BBC1 in the 1990s, there were some VHS releases of episodes from the series.
|VHS video title||Year of release||Episodes||BBFC rating|
|"Birds Of A Feather - Part 1 - Episodes 1-3"||N/A||Nicked, Just Visiting, Shift||PG|
|"Birds Of A Feather - Part 2 - Episodes 4-6"||N/A||Women's Troubles, Cheat!, Substitute||PG|
|"Birds Of A Feather - Poetic Justice"||13 Sept. 1993||Keeping Up Appearances, Baby Come Back, Poetic Justice, Okey-Cokey Karaoke||PG|
|"Birds Of A Feather - Caring"||13 Sept. 1993||Nine and a Half Days, Wipe That Smile Off Your Tape, Muesli||PG|
|"Birds Of A Feather - Favour Of The Month"||13 Sept. 1993||Favour of the Month, Time and Tide, Belongings||PG|
|"Birds Of A Feather - Sweet Smell of Success"||13 Sept. 1993||Sweet Smell of Success, Parting, Keep off the Grass, Tinker Tailor||PG|
|"Birds of a Feather - The Very Best Of"||1 May 1995||Now Starter, Find The Lady, Moving, Still Waters Run Deep||PG|
The first series of Birds of a Feather was released by Prism Leisure Corporation on 6 January 2003. Series One was released in Region 4 (Australia) in March 2007. Series One was re-released with different packaging on 1 June 2009 and at the time FremantleMedia said that there were no plans to release the remaining series.
Series 1 was re-released for a third time with new packaging along with Series 2 on 30 August 2010 through Network.
Series 3 & 4 were released on 31 January 2011 and were followed by series 5 & 6 on 21 February, series 7 & 8 on 7 March and series 9 on 11 April 2011. The Complete Series 1-9 box set was released on 10 October 2011.
Following the release of the complete collection, an Australian release was also included. This was released in three individual box sets, each containing three series.
The Complete Series 1-9 box set is rated 'PG' for Parental Guidance in Australia and New Zealand for coarse language and sexual references.
Following Birds of a Feather's comeback on TV after nearly 16 years, the complete series 10 was released on 10 March 2014 containing all 8 episodes of that series. A DVD release of the first four Christmas specials was released in November 2014.
Series 11 was released on DVD in February 2015, containing 8 episodes, followed by an ITV series 1 and 2 box set.
A DVD release of Series 12, is due at the end of February 2016. Unlike the other 2 DVD releases, which were distributed by FremantleMedia, this one is being released through Network, the company that brought Series 1-9 on DVD.
|DVD title||No. of discs||Year(s)||No. of episodes||DVD release|
|Region 2||Region 4||Special episodes|
|Complete Series 1||1||1989||6 + special||30 August 2010||March 2007||1989 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 2||3||1990||15 + special||1990 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 3||2||1991||12 + special||31 January 2011||N/A||1991 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 4||2||1992||13 + special||N/A||1992 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 5||3||1993||13 + special||21 February 2011||N/A||1993 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 6||3||1994||14 + special||N/A||1994 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 7||2||1997||10 + special||7 March 2011||N/A||"The Chigwell Years"|
|Complete Series 8||1||1998||6 + special||N/A||1997 Christmas special|
|Complete Series 9||1||1998||6 + Special||11 April 2011||N/A||1998 Christmas special|
|Series 1-3||6||1989-91||33 + 3 specials||N/A||30 August 2011||Christmas specials|
|Series 4-6||6||1992-94||40 + 3 specials||N/A||3 November 2013||Christmas specials|
|Series 7-9||4||1997-98||22 + 2 specials||N/A||1 March 2012||Christmas specials |
& "The Chigwell Years"
|Complete Collection (Series 1-9)
(The Complete BBC Series)
|19 (Region 2)
16 (Region 4)
|1989-98||102||10 October 2011||2 August 2012||Christmas specials |
& "The Chigwell Years"
|The Complete ITV Series 1
(Complete Series 10)
|1||2014||8||10 March 2014||23 August 2014||N/A|
|The Complete ITV Series 2
(Complete Series 11)
|1||2014-15||8||23 February 2015||TBA||N/A|
|The Complete ITV Series 1 & 2
(Complete Series 10 & 11)
|2||2014-15||16||23 February 2015||TBA||N/A|
|The Complete ITV Series 3
(Complete Series 12)
|1||2016||8||29 February 2016||TBA||N/A|
|1990||British Comedy Awards||Best TV Comedy Newcomer||Won||Pauline Quirke|
|Best TV Comedy Actress||Nominated|
|1993||BAFTA Awards||Best Comedy (Programme or Series)||Nominated||Terry Kinane |
|1997||National Television Awards||Most Popular Comedy Programme||Nominated||Birds of a Feather|
|Most Popular Comedy Performer||Nominated||Pauline Quirke|
|1998||National Television Awards||Most Popular Actress||Nominated|
|TV Quick Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|1999||National Television Awards||Most Popular Comedy Performer||Nominated|
|National Television Awards||Most Popular Comedy Programme||Nominated||Birds of a Feather|
|TV Quick Awards||Best Sitcom||Won|
|2015||TV Choice Awards||Most Popular Comedy||Nominated|
|2016||National Television Awards||Most Popular Comedy||Nominated|
|TV Choice Awards||Best Comedy||Won|