A comedy-drama set in a Rover dealership? That’ll be Linda Green. Ben Adams remembers it well…
In this section AROnline has covered many shows where a firm motor has had pride of place somewhere in the show, well with the BBC show, Linda Green, the show’s star works in a Rover dealership!
Played by the excellent Liza Tarbuck, the programme launched on BBC1 in October 2000, with the second series following about 12 months later. The role her character plays in the show is a little confusing, she’s not a saleswoman as such, the men seem to do the deals but she organises the finance, yet don’t class her as admin. Linda is just as good as the blokes. In one episode she actively discourages promotion, she’s quite happy where she is.
She’s still good friends with everyone she was at school with and even has a second job singing at the Lee Lane Social Club yet despite all this her life is unfulfilled. All of those friends have settled down with husbands and boyfriends and she’s feeling a little left out. There is an on/off relationship with Jimmy plus various other dalliances throughout, and despite her frustrations she does enjoy a healthy love life, she even gets to date Peter Kay at one point!
Linda’s car – a gold Rover 25 GTi, sadly untaxed since last November. We don’t actually see all that much of the car, the odd scene with her parking it or walking to it, although there is one memorable scene where she is en route to her parents house when a maniac (her uncle, well played by her real father, Jimmy) pulls right out in front of her in a bright yellow Mercedes-Benz!
The timing of this show was excellent, BMW had slunk away and the ‘new’ Firm was enjoying a patriotic renaissance. The 25 was selling very well, it had even been a best-seller earlier that year, beating the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa! 45 and 75 were doing well and the arrival of the Zeds in 2001 really put MG Rover on the map. It all seemed so positive back then!
Liza Tarbuck herself is more well known for presenting shows but her first ever TV role was as an actress, playing the older sister, Pamela in the successful ITV drama Watching. Tarbuck is currently presenting a Saturday evening show on BBC Radio 2. Linda Green was very much a vehicle for Tarbuck, and the Beeb, so confident of her talents actually commissioned Series 2 before the first had even been aired!
The show sits between comedy and drama and attempted to cover many thought provoking storylines in the 20 half-hour episodes (10 per series) such as sexism in the workplace, dating older/younger men, teenage pregnancy and sudden death. All of these situations made Linda stop and think about life and the direction she was taking but at the start of each episode she was back at Lee Lane singing her heart out.
In many ways this was its downfall, with the show ending for similar reasons that the Firm did; there just wasn’t anything new. Linda kept working at Craven Lane Motors, she kept singing down at Lee Lane and she still kept going to her parents every Sunday for lunch. One cannot? The series was created by renowned television scripwriter Paul Abbott, and produced by Phil Collinson, himself now more famous for Coronation Street. Which makes us wonder if its not time we had an MG dealer in Weatherfield!