Cars in Film : Linda Green

A comedy-drama set in a Rover dealership? That’ll be Linda Green. Ben Adams remembers it well…

Liza Tarbuck was the undoubted star of Linda Green
Liza Tarbuck was the undoubted star of Linda Green

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!

Keith Adams
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  1. There was an 80s Central TV drama series, about a family run car manufacturing business, set in Brum, which used doctored production cars, so that they wouldn’t be mistaken for anything on sale – anyone remember what it was called? I’ve been searching the ‘net but can’t find any reference…..

  2. Simon – You might be thinking of “Chancer” with Clive Owen & Susannah Harker set in a factory making Morgan-style sports cars ?

  3. @1
    Simon, I think you’re referring to “On the Line”, which didn’t run for long and featured the ABM (Associated British Motors) Orbit. I think it was earlier than the eigthies, maybe late seventies. I have a vague memory of the Orbit being based on a Golf and being given away in a TV Times competition.

  4. @4 – Bingo! I even used to design ABM motors on my little A3 drawing board……wonder if anything’s on YouTube! Thanks for solving my mystery!!

  5. “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”
    Surely she was the dealership credit broker??
    The one and only time I bought an ex demo on the “drip” I did the deal with the salesman then was handed over to the geezer who did the credit agreement

  6. That “On the Line” show is reminding me of another fake car and damned if I can find it now – a German (I think) TV show about a car dealership. The car was a Fiat-based thing that looked vaguely Audi/Mercedes-esque. I think. Might be wrong about it being Fiat based too…

  7. Fascinating, I was abroad at that time and never knew this show. I also missed the documentary that followed the Rover Grp/ BMW relationship in the late 1990s.

    The show you were looking for might also be ‘Winning Streak’. It featured and ARG dealership and a rally Metro 6R4.
    Here’s a link for it:

    The car in Chancer was a Naylor, I think.

  8. hmmm… always thought Liza was a little bit of a hottie..

    I remember this show. The most memorable one I can think of was when she got hold of that mechanics car (XJ40 I think) after an argument, and quietly had the car sprayed from a nice discreet colour to a postbox ‘in-yer-face’ red… the following scene she hurriedly gets him to drive her somewhere – with him complaining that he was driving in a car made everybody think he looked “like an Estate agent”…

    You had to see just a garish the car looked! Quite amusing.

  9. I vaguely recall Linda Green, though not her driving a Gold 25 GTi (didnt know Rover did a 25 GTi!). The gold paint would have been “Sienna Gold”.

    While on about car related Films, I remember seeing a 1970s Cinema release starring Roy Dotrice and Judy Geeson(?) about a Norwegian manufacturer tying up with a Japanese maker, calling their company AUTO-NORD. Sounds like Alfa and Nissan’s liason with the Arna & Cherry.

  10. My favourite BMC>ARG related Comedy Drama was ITV’s “The Grimley’s” (1999-2001). Set in 1970’s West Midlands, the main character’s father (played by Nigel Planer) was (meant to) work at Longbridge, though on his very first day of work had a minor mishap resulting in him going on sick leave for a year. On the day he did eventually return to work, a strike was called, which was still going on a year later. A cameo appearance by Jim Bowen saw him playing a concerned Trade Union official who fussed around ensuring his members didn’t exert themselves in any way when called upon to attend to the smallest piece of work whilst an idle production line of Marina’s were lifelessly suspended in the background of an almost Victorian like factory.

  11. @12 Captured the essence well, that programme… needs to come back to our screens 🙂

  12. “On The Line” was a 13-part 1982 TV series by Central Television (formerly ATV) following “the struggles of an independent British car manufacturer, Associated British Motors in the run up to the launch of its make-or-break new car, the Orbit.” so there’s a Mini Metro theme in the mix. The cars were dressed-up Ford Fiesta Mk1s. This imcdb page rounds up a few pictures and background – . There is no known source of surviving footage.

    The Clive Owen series was “Chancer” from 1990-91, 20 episodes across 2 series, again from Central Television. The “Douglas Leopard” cars were JBA Falcons – Cortina/Sierra-based kits looking Morganish with a sprinkling of MG TC. The factory set was the old Velocette works in Hall Green (Birmingham) which had recently closed. Both S1 and S2 were released on DVD some years ago. Full imcdb page at .

    The only thing I can remember about The Grimleys was Noddy Holder (from Slade) playing a time-worn geography(?) teacher and in the final scene of the final episode playing a wonderful version of “Cum On Feel The Noize” on acoustic guitar in a deserted school gym – worth looking up on youtube.

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